|Anna was voted 2011 Raiderette of the Year. Photo by Tony Gonzales
During halftime of the Raiders home game versus the Detroit Lions on December 18, the Raiderettes announced their 2011 award winners, which included third-year veteran Anna as Raiderette of the Year, Jennifer as Dancer of the Year, and Ashley as Rookie of the Year.
The Raiderette of the Year will represent the Raiders at the 2012 Pro Bowl in Hawaii. "I'm super excited," said Anna. "I'm really proud and honored that I get to do it. I'm going to work my hardest to dance as well as I can and do the best for The Oakland Raiders and my teammates and everybody and make sure I represent well."
The veteran Raiderette auditioned for the team three years ago after meeting fellow teammate Alli in a dance class at a local city college. "I honestly was looking up the different dance teams in the area," said Anna. "I loved the Raiderette uniforms and then I met Alli, who is on the team now. I met her in a dance class and I had told her that I was kind of interested in trying out for one of the Bay Area dance teams. She was like, 'I'm a Raiderette, you have to try out, you're perfect for it.' So she really encouraged me and she helped me through the whole thing. Sometimes I just think you need that little push because I think I saw the Raiderettes and thought I could never do that, they're so glamorous, they're so this and so that. And what you don't realize is we're just normal people."
Since becoming a Raiderette, Anna feels as though her experience has far surpassed what she hoped it would be. "I feel so lucky," she said. "I feel like I've had the best experience that you could have as a Raiderette. I've been really lucky – I got to go to Japan and Austria and travel and I got Rookie of Year and Raiderette of the Year and then last year the Wanetta Horton which is the Most Inspirational Raiderette. So I feel like I've had a really lucky experience. I feel like I came into it with my whole heart so I feel like I'm getting the best experience out of it."
Her trips to Austria (2011) and Japan (2010) were two of her Raiderette highlights. "After my rookie year I got to go to Japan and visit the troops at the Naval Base and that was so cool," said Anna. "You could just tell the troops needed a little inspiration. We got to watch the Super Bowl with them and it was really cool to be there with the troops and hear their stories and where they came from. We got to go on an F-18, not ride in one, but walk on it. We got to do the simulator like you're flying an F-18 and I crashed into the water every time. I could not land to save my life and I was like, 'good thing I dance and don't do this.'"
This past spring, Anna and five other Raiderettes traveled to Innsbruk, Austria, to cheer in the Euro Bowl for the SWARCO Raiders. "The Euro Bowl was so cool. I'd never been to Europe so it was my first time there," explained Anna. "They were just so excited to have us there and people were just so warm and welcoming. It was so cute, we were like mini celebrities. Just to go see another game and get to cheer with the SWARCO Raider cheerleaders; that game was just awesome. The fans were very passionate."
Anna is ecstatic to have been selected as Raiderette of the Year and looks forward to her trip to Hawaii in a few weeks. "I still wake up and think, 'Oh my God, I'm Raiderette of the Year, this is nuts,'" said Anna. "It was really cool that the team picked me and I know that it's all my friends' votes so that means a lot to me. But still keep thinking, 'is this real?' I feel like I'm going to wake up and the game is going to be in two days."