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O.K. you guys. In case you haven't noticed, the UCLA song girls are over by the men's gym working on their halftime routine for Saturday's game. That's Renée Gibson in the electric-yellow designer sweats. Hi, Renée! Love your sweats! And there's Jayne Papac—she's the captain of the squad, O.K.?—discussing the music for the group's next performance with Hazel Bracey and Diane Bessée.
"O.K., you guys, Mongo and Rock Lobster are out," says Jayne, pronounced Jayne.
"But we can still do Enough Is Enough."
Today is very important, because the song girls' new basketball sweaters have arrived. That's Julie Hayek over there trying one on now. The sweaters are cobalt blue and have UCLA stitched across the chest. Julie's best letters happen to be U and A. Has anyone since Lana Turner looked better in a sweater than Julie Hayek? No.
Many of these particular sweaters don't fit, however. They look all droopy and hideous, and they are causing paroxysms of grief where hope once lived. What a disappointment! "Look at this, you guys," shrieks Renée, her face accent grave. "No way! This is gross! Oh, Julie. Look, you guys. Oh, Julie! You'll have to pin that. Maybe we can get them taken in. You guys?"
It's important that the sweaters fit, of course. Just as it's important that the pompons shake, the eyes flash, the smiles brighten entire arenas and the legs kick impossibly high. Everything the UCLA song girls do, in fact, has taken on an added degree of importance since the NCAA finals in Indianapolis last March, when they accompanied the Bruin basketball team to the final four and got themselves discovered.
Despite an unimpressive regular season, the Bruins qualified for the NCAA's 857-team tournament field, and played exceedingly well before finally being beaten by Louisville 59-54 in the championship game. But if Indianapolis' Market Square Arena was the UCLA basketball team's Waterloo, it was the song girls' very own Schwab's Drugstore. Every time they walked onto the floor, some of the less well-hinged members of the Louisville band held up numbers rating their performance, as if they were scoring a diving meet. Jaded old sportswriters actually left their free cold cuts in the press room and caught the song girls' halftime show. Is it any wonder that a lot of people are rooting for the UCLA song girls to make it to this year's NCAA final four in Philadelphia? No.
"All the publicity we got last year was weird," says Azeldria (A.Z.) McCarns. "We had never been exposed to anything like that. It seemed kind of out of place, because it was as if we were the stars and the basketball team was backing us up."