Friday, May 29, 2009

Nuggets Dancer Krista Schneider

Skyline High School graduate Krista Schneider, front, never expected to find herself on the Denver Nuggets’ dance squad — but now, she’s got a courtside view of the team’s historic journey through the NBA playoffs. Courtesy Garrett Ellwood Photography

Dancing with the NBA stars

By Justin Williams
© 2009 Longmont Times-Call

All right, all right. Stop gawking. Yes, she’s a pretty girl.

And you might be asking yourself what she’s doing on the front of the sports page. Don’t worry about it. Just enjoy and move on.

Oh, and pat yourself on the back for taking time away from the pretty picture to actually read this — because, trust me, behind the good looks and great dance moves, Krista Schneider has an interesting story to tell.

She was born on the edge of Longmont and raised on a ranch by a cowboy whose rugged ways rubbed off on her. Sure, Schneider did the dance recitals, ballets and all that other girly stuff — but you know what they say: You can take the girl away from the farm, but ...

“I was always such a tomboy. I never could have dreamed of being this pretty girl on posters and signing autographs,” Schneider says, almost apologizing to that inner child who can’t wait to grow up and wrestle steer like dad.

Schneider attended Skyline High School, graduating in 2005. She was on the school’s dance team all four years, and in her mind, that’s where her dancing career would end.

But her first year at Colorado State was a tough one that included the sudden passing of her father. She needed an outlet, and dancing came calling once again.

She tried out and made the Colorado Eagles’ dance team and eventually fulfilled the lifelong dream of many a little girl: becoming a dancer on an NBA team.

The 22-year-old has been along for nearly every minute of Denver’s historic ride to the Western Conference finals — and recently, Schneider made this sportswriter’s lifelong dream by giving me a few minutes of her time.


JW: Tell me a little about yourself, other than your dancing life.

KS: I enjoy long walks on the beach, candlelight dinners ... just kidding! I am attending Colorado State University, majoring in business marketing with a minor in merchandising.

I don’t have much time between school and dance, but when I do, you will rarely find me resting.

I like to get out and experience life with those around me. I’m very close with my family and enjoy spending time with them. My mom, sister, niece and I usually are out shopping together at least once a week, and I see my entire extended family at least once a month.

I also try to visit my boyfriend as much as possible, which can be difficult because he is from, and currently resides in, Alberta, Canada.

JW: Dang you, Canada! First you take Roy Halladay — now this?

... All right, what are some of your favorite memories of Skyline High School?

KS: I was on the Skyline Dance Team all four years and was captain my senior year. While I was on the dance team, I started a tradition where any senior guy who was brave enough to sign up would get to come learn a dance and perform at a few games with us.

I headed that up for three years, and I am sure you can imagine that was quite the experience and probably one of my favorite memories.

JW: So how did you go from that to becoming a Denver Nuggets dancer?

KS: I had been dancing my entire life and then decided to take a year off when I went to college. I had an extremely tough first year ... and decided I needed to start dancing again as a way to release all the emotions I was feeling.

I was very shy, but I felt like at this point, I had nothing to lose, so I started trying out for professional teams. I was elated when I made the Nuggets dancers, to say the least.

Now that I am nearing the end of my rookie season, I have to say that being a Nuggets dancer is more amazing than I could ever put into words.

JW: That’s a pretty competitive process, right?

KS: If I had to describe the tryout experience in one word, it would be “overwhelming.” Hundreds of girls show up and put everything they have on the line for a shot at their dream. The process is different for everyone but easy for no one.

I get very nervous, so tryouts are a little stressful for me, but it is worth it in the end.

JW: Did you ever imagine you’d end up as a dancer on a professional team?

KS: I actually had no idea that I could dance on a pro team, as strange as that sounds. To me, the girls that danced for the Nuggets were almost unreal, something that was unattainable.

Once I realized that I had similarities to a lot of the girls on the team, I immediately started trying out.

JW: So: How many times are you hit on during a game?

KS: Hmmmm ... I think the last tally was at 12,987. Just kidding!

JW: Who is your favorite Nuggets player, and why?

KS: It’s a tie between Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith.

Chauncey Billups because he is an amazing player and leader. The change was unbelievable when he stepped out on the court wearing that No. 7 jersey, and I don’t know if we would be in the position we are now without him.

J.R. Smith, because you can see his love for what he does. He always looks like he is enjoying life — plus, he is a great player.

JW: Who has the best dance moves on the Nuggets?

KS: I have to say J.R. Smith, because he is the only player I’ve caught dancing on the practice court.

JW: Of course I have to ask you: Who is going to win this Western Conference finals series between the Nuggets and Lakers?

KS: I think that the Nuggets will not only win the Western Conference finals, but I think they are going to win it all.

As Kobe (Bryant) said about the Nuggets: “They have depth. They have the toughness. They have the camaraderie. It’s no surprise to me that they’re here.”


There you have it, folks. Good looks and she knows her sports. Again — dang you, Canada.