Five members of the Ice Bears hockey team organization in Knoxville hail from Blount County, but they wont be skating, passing the puck or throwing punches during Blount County night at the Knoxville Coliseum on Friday, Jan. 19.
These individuals will be turning, twisting, dancing and
entertaining the crowd during intermission. The five from Blount
up part of the Ice Bears Hunnies dance team sponsored by the hockey team.
The Hunnies from Blount are Amanda McElmeel, Amber DeLozier, Brittany Rinehart, Hayley Henry and Laura Broyles.
The team members practice at least twice a week for three hours at a
time and must also attend and perform at each home
hockey game. The pay is small -- $20 per game.
DeLozier, 19, a sophomore at the University of Tennessee, said she has always loved to dance. She has either been involved in gymnastics or dance her entire life.
"I didnt want as big a commitment as it took to be on the University of Tennessee dance team," DeLozier said. "My freshmen year, I didnt dance at all. I just wanted to get involved in dance again."
DeLozier said that while they are paid, it is not much. "We do get paid, very, very little; $20 a game, but its lots of fun," the Maryville High School grad said.
McElmeel, 19, graduated Heritage High School in 2005, is a sophomore at UT and works part-time at Airport Honda. McElmeel said she joined after her friend Hayley Henry encouraged her to do so.
"We all cheered in high school, and she said we needed to do something to be part of a team," McElmeel said. "I just really like being part of a group or team. I knew nothing about hockey. Now that were in it, I love it. When I see it on TV, I actually stop and watch it."
Rinehart, 19, graduated Heritage High School in 2005. She said she tried out for the team because of her passion for dance. "Last year I went to UT, and I wasnt on any team and in high school I was involved in everything. I had missed being on a team. Amber and Hayley and Amanda called me and wanted me to try out. We made it," she said.
Rinehart said shes been dancing since she was 3. She is minoring in dance at UT.
"I love it," she said of dancing.
Broyles, 18, graduated Heritage High School in 2006. Her reason for trying out for the team was simple.
"I love to dance. Its one of my passions. I wish I could be a professional dancer, but Im not that good," she said. "I just love to dance, and I cheered all through high school."
Henry, 19, graduated Heritage High School in 2005. She didnt
dance on a team her freshman year of college and missed it.
"I love to perform, and I looked for something my freshmen year of college. I didnt do it last year," she said.
Henry was at an Icebears game with her boyfriend in 2006, saw the dancers and told him she wanted to be on the team, but the minimum age to tryout was 21. This summer they lowered the age requirement, and she tried out for the team.
Henry is a sophomore at UT and is majoring in political science. She wants to go to law school and become an attorney.
The young ladies said training is a big requirement of being on the team. Besides learning new routines for each game, they also lift weights and do different exercises like Pilates, Delozier said.
McElmeel said, "We learn at a very, very fast past. Youve got be able learn quick and perform it or youre behind."
Rinehart said the workouts, practices and games are part of a routine she likes. "With school, I took 17 hours last semester.
I was really proud of myself. I came out with five As and a B. Its been really hard, but Ive always been busy. I hate to not be busy, I like having things to do," she said.
Henry said the rigorous practices are nothing new for her and her Blount teammates. "Its stuff weve been doing all our lives. Its just more technical," she said. "Its the hours we put in and the hours we spend trying to work as a squad that is hard work now."
The dance team members said they believed the experience with the Ice Bears Hunnies helps them achieve their goals.
DeLozier said having this knowledge and experience could help if she moved to bigger city after college. "I would love to try out for another dance team, but it would definitely be outside of a full-time job," she said.
Rinehart said she didnt know if she would do anything with her dancing once she moved on from the team. Just being on the team was a goal in itself. "Right now Im in speech pathology and double minoring in psychology and dance," she said. "I could work with little kids and help with speech or help the elderly who had a heart attacks and help them speak."
Henry said that through the Ice Bear organization, team members have
met so many people through the promotions they
do at places like East Tennessee Childrens Hospital. In addition, the team owners are connected to other influential people the dance team members get to meet. "We meet so many people. Its really helped me learn how to meet people and network," Henry said.
Broyles said the dance team teaches valuable life skills. "Working with people, you need to be a leader and being on this team helps you to cooperate with people and work as a team," she said. "Coming together as a team, you work together, but you also stand out."
McElmeel said the job has taught her a lot about responsibility, given her new friends and instilled a love of the game of hockey. "It has helped me to mature and have time management," she said.
Blount County Chamber of Commerce Ice Bears Night
- Friday, Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m.
- Cost per ticket for Blount County residents is $8 (adults) and $7
(children 14 and younger).
- To get that special price, Blount County residents must call ahead at 525-PUCK (7825) and ask for Brandon Hays for tickets.