When one Muncie native graduated from high school and couldn’t be on her competition team anymore, she turned to professional sports as an outlet.
Now, Brooke Rees is in her third season as a Pacemate for the Indiana Pacers.
Rees, who has been dancing since she was four, originally auditioned for the L.A. Laker Girls. After those plans fell through, she auditioned for the Pacemate team.
“Auditioning is terrifying,” Rees said. “The first time wasn’t as scary because I didn’t know exactly what it was. But now I’ve built a family with the girls on the team and the people in the Pacers organization. The thought of losing them is scary.”
Rees has practice twice a week in the evening, and has to factor an hour and a half of driving time into her schedule as well.
In addition to games, she and the team can also be hired to make appearances at different events.
Along with being a Pacemate, she is a student at Ivy Tech, working to get into the physical therapist assistant program.
She also has two jobs, one at a tanning salon and another at Dazzle Dance and Cheer in Muncie.
“It’s very time consuming, and my coach actually had to help me with time management,” Rees said. “It’s worth it though. It’s not that bad because it’s something I enjoy doing.”
Nick Reifel, a senior organizational communication major at Ball State, is Rees' boyfriend. He said Rees being able to juggle everything shows she as a tremendous work ethic.
"Driving to Indy and back three times a week and then having to study or get up before the sun comes up for another job is no easy task for anybody," Reifel said. "She's a wonderful human being."
The experience forced her to grow up faster, she said. When she started her first season in 2014, she was the youngest person on the team, and had to adapt quickly.
“I really had to step up,” she said. “Before dance was a hobby, but now it [is] part of my job.”
Stepping up includes knowing the routines and being ready for practices, which Rees said is the hardest part.
“We have over 30 games, and do two different routines at each game,” she said. “We try not to repeat the routines, that way there’s always something fresh on the court. Keeping up with the routines goes back to time management, because you have to practice outside of practice to be ready.”
For Rees, being a Pacemate means getting to do what she’s passionate about, and be a part of a team she loves.
“It’s fun and exciting to dance in front of that many people,” Rees said. “It’s a loving atmosphere, where there’s tough love when you’ve got to do better. But you know you can go to these people for anything. I love dancing and it’s my passion, but it’s mainly about the people.”