2012 Raiderette Finals

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2012 Raiderettes. Photo by Tony Gonzales

The 2012 Raiderettes were announced on Sunday, April 22, at the final auditions held at the Hilton-Oakland Airport. During the finals, 125 candidates, including veterans, interviewed with and danced for the judges in their attempt to make the 40-member squad. After a long, exhausting day of auditions, 25 veterans and 15 rookies received the good news that they are members of Football's Fabulous Females.

Sisters Natalie and Jenna went through the audition process together and both made the team. Natalie, the 2010 Raiderette of the Year, was excited to learn that she'd be spending her fifth season with her older sister. "I heard Jenna's name called and then I kind of lost track and I forgot what my number was," said Natalie. "This was probably the most emotional audition experience I've ever had. So a lot of tears of joy and a little bit of bittersweetness and sadness, but I'm really happy my sister is here and we can experience this together."

"I couldn't stop squeezing her arm," said Jenna about hearing the numbers called. "I'm just really excited that this is happening and I'm experiencing it with Natalie and the rest of the girls that made it too."

Jalina, a Raiderette rookie, was extremely nervous when her number was called. "When they called my number there was just something in my stomach that just went down, like you're on a roller coaster, like, 'whoa, did that just happen?' It was crazy," said Jalina. "It was a good moment, but it made me so nervous. I'm really happy, and excited and blessed and humbled to be here right now."

Now entering her second season, Bess is looking forward to the challenge of being a Raiderette veteran. "I was feeling really relieved [when my number was called], but honestly, somewhat nervous that now I'm a vet and I have to uphold everything that all the vets did for me my rookie year," said Bess. "I think they are big shoes to fill, but I'm excited for the challenge."

Jenna is ready for her rookie season as a Fabulous Female. "This is new for me, being on a football team and experiencing the ropes and experiencing this with my sister," said Jenna. "Being a rookie too, it's like starting all over again, so it'll be interesting but I'm real excited to start the season."

Natalie is just as eager for the season to begin. "I can't believe I'm saying that this is going to be my fifth year," said Natalie. "I'm most looking forward to just watching the rookies go through what I experienced five years ago because as you get older, it means more to you being on this team. I'm really excited to see my older sister go through it."

As the 40 cheerleaders begin the 50th- anniversary season of the Raiderettes, Bess imparted a message for the rookies. "Have fun and let it all sink in," said Bess. "I seriously feel like rookie season went by in a flash and the best thing you can do is just have fun in every single moment and literally remember everything because you're never going to have another rookie season. There's always a chance to come back as a vet, but you're only a rookie once."

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