As the Raiderettes say goodbye to 12 retiring dancers, here is Raiderette Taylor's send-off to Raider Nation in her own words.
"When I began this journey five years ago, I never imagined all of the memories I'd get to make with so many incredible women and the world that I would get to become a part of. At just 18 years old, I auditioned for the Raiderettes not knowing anyone or what to really expect. Growing up, my dance teachers were also Raiderettes, but I never thought that would be me out there cheering on such an incredible team. After making the team, I was so intimidated by all of the veteran Raiderettes who seemed to have it all. At our very first practice, I truthfully thought I didn't belong there—there was no way. All of my new Raiderette sisters quickly took me under their wings and made it clear to me that I did belong and that I was there for a reason. They made sure I was at every extra practice the vets held for the rookies and didn't stop working with me until I resembled a true Raiderette. After experiencing first-hand the love and support from my sisters, I knew that each year I would work hard to make sure every rookie had that same fulfilling feeling that they too were meant to be there and had a purpose. Our team is unlike any other in that way, we all want to see each other succeed both on our team and in all other aspects of our lives. I have never seen a large group of women support and lift each other up in the way that the Raiderettes do.
I want to thank everyone who has supported me during my time on this team. My former directors and choreographers as well as our current directors, my family, my dance family, my Raiderette sisters, the Raiders organization, and of course, the best fans in football, the Raider Nation. I have been so blessed to meet so many amazing people during these five years, I truthfully could not have done it without the love and support from all of them. You all have contributed to my success and happiness during my time as a Raiderette and have made me feel like family.
Even though I will deeply miss being a part of this team, I feel so content knowing that I was able to have the same impact on the rookies my last four years that my vets had on me during my rookie season. Ending my fifth season as a team captain could not have been any more rewarding and I feel extremely confident that whoever steps into our captain positions will continue to lead our team in the right direction, showing the rookies what it means to be a Raiderette. I will miss being on the sidelines and out in the community so much and I would give anything to step out on that field just one more time, however, I cannot wait to cheer on our girls (and the team, of course!) from the stands! As I close this chapter of my life and begin a new exciting journey, I know that the Raiders and the Raiderettes will always have a special place in my heart. If I could choose one word to sum up my years as a Raiderette, it would be grateful. Thank you, Raider Nation, for an absolutely unforgettable five years.
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.