Chivas Girls auditions

Chivas Girls auditions

Published Jan. 21, 2012 4:50 p.m. ET

Football teams have professional dance and cheer squads. So do basketball teams. And -- at least in the US -- a few soccer teams do, too.

Founded in 2004, the Mexican-owned Chivas USA debuted in Los Angeles as the MLS's 11th team. The team's actually a sister organization of Club Deportivo Guadalajara, Mexico's most popular soccer club.

The Chivas Girls debuted in 2004 along with the team. Though, internationally, soccer clubs don't have cheerleaders, the Chivas organization made the decision to have a professional dance team in order to appeal and relate to their American fans.

Their current director, Aimee Edmunson, has been involved since the creation of the team and took over her current position in 2008. She brought to the table years of professional dance experience, including time spent as a Laker Girl during the "Showtime" era. Years of working for a Los Angeles based sports agent and as a choreographer for several NBA and NFL cheer teams has allowed her to carefully craft and build the Chivas Girls brand and image even amongst the saturated Los Angeles market.

"I feel like in this industry there are a lot of girls who are really talented and there really is enough to go around," said Edmunson. "I think that if you have your mind and your focus set in the right place, and you're running a good show, then people will show up. We've been really lucky. I feel like every year keeps getting better."

This year, about 65 young ladies – returners and newcomers – showed up for a chance to be chosen by a panel of judges that included everyone from one lucky Chivas fan to Laker Girl director Lisa Estrada.

"This is a great organization, and it's a great outlet for young ladies that are pursuing the industry or maybe students or even executives that just want to continue dancing," said Edmunson.

The girls themselves are all professional dancers or are good enough to be, but want to do more with their time.

Take returning Chivas Girl, Whitney, for instance. She spent four years as a Clippers Spirit Girl while in school, but when it was time to pursue her masters in education, which included student teaching, she realized she wouldn't be able to stay on an NBA dance team. The MLS schedule, which includes only about 1 to 3 games a month, fits well into her schedule.

Now she is an elementary school teacher and still wearing the Chivas uniform.

"Some of [my students] play soccer for their local AYSO team. AYSO is a big supporter of Chivas USA, so we see them at the games. They have a blast and we get to take pictures with them after they come off holding the players' hands after the national anthem," said the veteran dancer. "They are very supportive. They value it because it's not often you get to have a teacher with a professional career outside the classroom."

That balance is what USC student Sujan Pang and alumni Traci Murakami and Alyson Berro hope to find if they make the team. All former members of USC's competitive dance team "Trojan Dance Force," they all are preparing to enter -- or are already in -- the business world, but don't want to leave something that they have devoted years of their life to.

"I think once we graduated we missed the team aspect and dancing and performing at games," said Berro.

"I think that Chivas is a great transition from college because it's not as big of a time commitment as some of the NBA teams and it allows you to have a full-time job. It actually recommends that you have a full-time job on top of it," said Murakami, who spends her days as a marketing and PR specialist for an engagement ring company.

Because who said you can't have the best of both words? The Chivas Girls are professionals at it.