News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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July 30, 2012

Local woman earns spot on Pacers dance squad

TERRE HAUTE — The Pacer fans of Terre Haute will see a familiar face dancing on the floor this season.

Elizabeth Shafer, 19, learned Thursday she’s been selected as a Pacemate for the 2012 season. Entering her sophomore year at Indiana University in Bloomington, the 2011 Terre Haute South Vigo High School graduate said she looks forward to a season full of work and fun.

“I’m not sure what doors it’s going to open for me yet,” she said Sunday afternoon. But beyond career opportunities, her role as a performer in the National Basketball Association will give her the chance to continue her passion for dance.

Shafer began dance lessons at the age of 3, continuing her study through high school at The Academy of Dance in Terre Haute. A member of the dance team at Honey Creek Middle School, she was a Spirette at Terre Haute South and appeared as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” her senior year.

“I want to get a minor in dance, too,” she said, explaining her current plans include a major in apparel merchandising.

Clinics and workshops for Pacemate auditions ran from June through July 10, with selections beginning the 16th. More than 200 women participated in the tryouts, with that number narrowing to 27 by the final rounds. Thursday Shafer learned online she’d been selected as one of the 14 finalists.

In addition to live auditions, competitors solicited fan support online and through Facebook. That end of the process shows the judges how hard the potential Pacemate will work to promote the team, she explained.

Shafer is one of the team’s two youngest at 19, with the oldest Pacemate at 29. Four of the women are rookies while 10 are returning members. The Pacers open their season Nov. 3 and Shafer will perform at each of the team’s 40 home games, as well those that extend into the late spring if they advance in the playoffs.

Practices begin this week, and she said the team rehearses from 6 to 10 p.m. twice a week throughout the season. Meanwhile, hair appointments and photo shoots are already being arranged, and some of the Pacemates will travel to China this month for publicity tours.

“They have some really awesome opportunities,” she said.

Shafer said the Pacers have long been her family’s favorite team. Her parents, Karen and Gene, as well as her siblings Jason, Emily and Megan, have been cheering Indiana basketball since she was a little girl. Starting next week, she’ll get a chance to cheer from the floor.

“It’s hit the ground running,” she said.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.

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