So it's a beautiful fall day in North Texas and what better place to be than the amazing pool on the seventh floor of the swanky Cirque Luxury high-rise in Victory Park. Not only does it provide for some of the most breathtaking views of the downtown Dallas skyline reflecting off the infinity pool, but it is the chosen location for a "prelude to the season" Dallas Stars Ice Girls photo shoot.
The Ice Girls are so much more than cheerleaders who can skate. The NHL mandates that the ice surface be cleaned during the three TV timeouts each period in four designated areas, including in front of the goal. By removing the loose ice, it can help speed up the pace of the game and increase scoring chances. Therefore, the Ice Girls have a direct impact on the game. The league put this policy into play eight years ago and while some teams have ice 'crews' (translation: dudes!), the Stars know that this is the South and beautiful women and Texas go hand-in-hand. And they have two minutes to get out on the ice with their snow shovels, plows and buckets, clean up the ice and get back into the tunnel.
How does one become an Ice Girl? The team held auditions in early August and 81 hopefuls showed up. That group was narrowed to 22, before the final squad of 19 was selected. Of the 19 girls that comprise the 2010-11 Ice Girls, they all either work full-time or go to college. Kamwin, in her rookie season, does both.
I chatted with a few of the girls during a break in the photo shoot and asked them what was the most exciting part of being in this exclusive group. I got everything from "Getting to perform in front of thousands of people" (Whitney, rookie), to "I joined a family with 18 new sisters" (Christina, rookie). Another rookie, Robbyn, grew up in Fort Worth and loved hockey after attending her first Fort Worth Fire game. She instantly became a Stars fan and has great memories of watching the 1999 Stanley Cup run.
The Ice Girls do not just skate and dance at the Stars games at American Airlines Center. They make appearances at TCU and SMU football tailgating, do charity work and take part in the Veteran's Day parade. One of their biggest off-the-ice events is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light The Night Walk.
When they're on the ice, Rachael, a five year veteran, says, "It's definitely intimidating to share the ice with professional athletes. But your adrenaline just takes over." She grew up in Maine, and has followed hockey all her life. Her dad was a coach and her brother played. And now, as an Ice Girl, "I get front row seats to every Stars game," she says, with a smile. "And I get paid for it."
The 2010-11 Dallas Stars Ice Girls are made up of four veterans (Meagan, Rachael, Kaime and Erin) and 15 rookies (Andrea, Alisha, Candace, Christina, Robbyn, Kamwin, Carolina, Danica, Katharina, Shanelle, Shahriela, Laura, Whitney, Jamie and Megan).
Wendy Dutton, in her third year as the team's coordinator, says: "watching the rookies and veterans bond into a sisterhood is very special. It's only adding to the excitement of the upcoming hockey season."
The Stars home opener is Thursday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 pm at American Airlines Center. They play former Stars legend Mike Modano and the Detroit Red Wings.