Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dancing with the Grizzlies: Ashley Nations

We at 3 Shades of Blue have been fortunate in the past and gotten some really nice stories about the Grizzlies. Once again luck shined on us as we were able to meet Ashley Nations, one of the original members of the Grizzlies Dance Team. Of course I had to hurt my back to be so fortunate but you take the good with the bad in life.

Ashley retired from the dance team this year and is a full-time physical therapist now. She was kind enough to answer some questions from the 3SoB's crack investigative staff (hopefully she doesn't refer to us that way).

3SoB: So tell us Ashley, when did you start dancing?
AN: I started tap, ballet and gymnastics at 4 years old. I cheered in Junior High and High School and started pom pom in my Junior year of High School.

3Sob: Wow, four seems real young! Is that normal for the dance team or did you start younger than most?
AN : My parents put me in a studio at that age, which is pretty common. I danced in a studio until I was 14 - competing in local competitions and doing recitals. Then when I got to Junior High School, cheer was the only school option and I enjoyed that. From there I went to pom and never looked back after that!

3 SoB: After 6 years on the dance team, what was your favorite team?
AN: The first year was fun and exciting and I met some of my best friends on that team. As far as having a team that got along, I would have to say last season was the best, hands down. There was almost no competitiveness and we did a good job of building each other up.

3 SoB: What was the main attraction to being a Grizzlies Dance Team member?
AN: Being able to keep dancing!! Learning dances from great choreographers in LA, and being a part of all the action!!

3SoB: What was the funniest experience you have had as a member?
AN: I guess when my wig came off during intro and I looked like a fairly decent drag queen!!

3SoB: When was that?
AN: I think the wig session was season 4. That was the last time I wore the afro wig. I banned the wig last year and some of us got to wear the 70's flybacks instead.

3SoB: Who was the most famous person you met in your role as a Grizzlies dance team member?
AN: I've been on the stage with some good ones (Morgan Freeman, Justin Timberlake, Danny Glover), but my favorite one was Andy Roddick!!!

3SoB: What? Andy Roddick? Not LeBron or Kobe?
AN: As far as audience attendees. He was front center, hard to miss, and we got the chance to talk to him and meet him that night. As far as players. Unfortunately, we sign a contract that we are not allowed to fraternize with the players so I was not able to "meet" many of them. My absolute favorite was sitting beside Michael Jordan and seeing John Stockton before he left the scene!

3SoB: What do you do when you aren’t dancing?
AN: I am a physical therapist and I manage the clinic I work at. I am getting my doctorate. I am starting to train for triathlons. I was recently baptised and I am really enjoying the extra time with family and friends and enjoying watching the game from the stands!! I also have a personal trainer's license, but I don't have time for that much anymore. I enjoy working out, running and playing tennis (no, I'm not good!). I just finished the infamous Chicago marathon in October, which was my second marathon. I love to travel and SCUBA dive, but I don't get to do that much either (I have issues with not having enough time).

3SoB: Is that all?
AN: I forgot to talk about the competition. It is a cheer and dance competition for youth and high school age kids. All of the proceeds go to St Jude. We raised over $3,000 in our first year! We look forward to having all of the squads in the Midsouth next year! It is called St Jude Cheer for the Kids and some of our sponsors were UCA, Varsity, Mcdowell marketing, Tabor Orthopedics, and Rehab Etc.

3SoB: With all of those hobbies and activities I don’t know where to start. Where are the best places to dive in your opinion since tennis isn’t high on my activity charts these days and my doctor told me to slow down on dance routines and marathons?
AN: I haven't had the opportunity to do much. I have only been to the Great Barrier reef which was excellent! I would love to go to Turks and Caicos. I look forward to much more travelling now. I have three trips already planned for next year!!

3SoB: If you were talking to someone interested in becoming a dance team member what advice would you give and why?
AN: Practice!! Get in a dance class. Study it. And HAVE FUN with it! Stay true to who you are and don't change into what others want you to be, because in the end, it really is worth it to have your integrity and not the approval of those who don't matter.

3SoB: What experience are you most grateful for from your time as a dancer?
AN: Meeting my lifelong friends and having the opportunity to do something I have dreamed of since I was little!

3SoB: What was your favorite Grizzlies game? Does one game stand out among the rest for sheer excitement?
AN: The first was probably the best! Justin singing and sitting mere feet away from me and all those fans!! The first few playoff games were amazing. There was so much energy!!

3SoB: What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?
AN: Going for another doctorate or PHD, having a family, and SCUBA diving a lot or maybe even sailing and owning my own boat.

3SoB: You are beautiful, talented, smart and want a boat to go SCUBA diving around the world, is there any chance you would marry me?
AN: Haha. I am very flattered!

Maybe I should have taken off my wedding ring before asking that last question!