After the visit to the hospital, we rushed across town for a rehearsal. Before home games, the Nuggets practice two nights a week, once in the city and the other night at a motel in San Mateo. For many of the girls it means 60 or 70 miles of driving a night. Berg used to have a rule that girls who missed rehearsals would not receive their three free tickets for Sunday's game. Last year he dropped the rule.
"We don't do it anymore because we really haven't had to," he said. "Besides, I hate to do anything like that because Nuggets don't get salaries." Work without pay is the rule, not the exception, with NFL pep groups.
In addition to a run-through of our two songs for halftime, the rehearsal included a simulated tryout for me. News of the regular tryouts, normally held in April, was spread by word of mouth and by any friend of the 49ers who happened to see a pretty girl who might be able to sing. Judges included reporters, former Nuggets and friends of Dick Berg.
For my midseason tryout. Berg had assembled Glenn Thomas, the executive director of the San Francisco March of Dimes; Bill Lynch, a Coca-Cola executive; and Mike Olmstead, a pompon-routine teacher and sometime composer.
Prospective Nuggets, who must be at least 21, fill out an application that includes "Describe yourself in three words," and "What kind of animal best describes your personality?" I conveniently managed to lose my application between the hospital and rehearsal. Applicants are allowed a cocktail or two while they are being interviewed. The drinks supposedly put them in the right frame of mind for the remaining two-thirds of the tryout: singing two solos and doing a simple dance routine.
All I got was more California chablis as my judges asked, "What would you do if a married player asked you to dance at a team party and his wife was there?"
"Smile and say 'No thanks.' "
"What if a single player asked to take you home?"
"I'd let him."
"Do you realize that if there were any conflict between you and a player's wife, the organization would automatically side with the wife?"