As the Raiderettes say goodbye to 12 retiring dancers, here is Raiderette Sheila's send-off to Raider Nation in her own words.
"Becoming a Raiderette was the best thing that could ever happen to me. I still remember my first year auditioning like it was yesterday. I won't forget when they called my audition number 128. I stood there thinking they called the wrong number. But when they repeated the numbers a second time, they called 128 again. I started to tear up with joy and was overwhelmed with a wave of emotions. Reality hit me when we finally took a team photo together. 39 amazing women stood amongst me and I still look back at that photo from time to time to remind myself how far I've come. Putting on that silver and black Raiders jacket was surreal, and I didn't want to take that jacket off. Sleep was impossible that night since it was definitely the happiest day of my life.
Cheerleading has always been part of my life since I was 11. Cheerleading forced me to get out of my comfort zone. My voice got louder, my dancing came naturally, and I made many friends. Raiderettes have taught me to be confident in myself, to give back to the community, to support others especially my sisters, and to work hard even when things get tough and never give up. Practices weren't always easy. They were long, full of sweat and fatigue, but we always remembered to laugh and have fun. I will miss being together with those late-night practices and early Saturday mornings struggling to wake up, but we always pushed through it. When we hit those routines on the field, we were unstoppable! I am going to miss standing on the sidelines waiting for the announcer to introduce us with "Raiderettes take the field!", as we walk together in line to do Senorita or Back in Black. While dancing we would vibe off one another and shout out guide! or get it, girls! The bond we had was unbreakable and I am so lucky to be part of this sisterhood. My sisters have always been my inspiration. They are all beautiful, kind, intelligent, thoughtful, funny, that list goes on and on. But I am thankful to have danced with so many talented women over the last 4 years.
When I put on my uniform, it always felt magical. From the makeup and hair to the small details like the diamond earrings and medallions that made us sparkle. It was an honor to wear it every game. I will miss getting ready with my sisters in the locker room blasting Bay Area songs. Then, walking down the hallways of the Coliseum to the field, and as tradition goes, hitting the top of each doorway we walk through for good luck. I still got butterflies before we were about to hit the field, even as a Vet. But once we walked out as a team and shook those silver poms towards the fans, the nerves went away. I won't forget these feelings.
For all the girls with big dreams, I say go for it especially if it involves becoming a Raiderette! You'll never know the results until you try. Reach out to previous Raiderette sisters. We are here for you! I am here for you! We know you can do it. Just believe in yourself as I did. I am thrilled about the new stadium in Vegas and I cannot wait to see the Raiderettes and Raiders in action. Even though I'll be in the stands, you know I'll still be doing the Autumn Wind when we make those touchdowns!
Ultimately, I want to say thank you to my previous coaches Jeanette, Laura, and Shauna for believing in me and making me part of the Raiders family. Thank you Mandy and Mallorie for making my last two seasons inspiring with positivity, love, and support. You are all incredible women and I am blessed to have learned from all of you! Thank you to my Raiderette Sisters for always bringing the best out of me. Thank you to my family and friends for supporting me. I am appreciative to have had the opportunity to travel to Mexico City and London, serve the Raider community, and represent the best NFL team out there! I can't forget, Raider Nation for being the best fans ever and always being the loudest fans! You have given me 4 incredible years filled with many memories and experiences that I will never forget. I had the best time of my life!
Once a Raiderette, Always a Raiderette!
As finalists prepare for the 2020 Raiderette Final Auditions, the Raiderettes would like to honor the 12 dancers who will be hanging up their boots and pom-poms this upcoming season.