BOSTON — When she showed up in Waltham in early June, the idea was to tag along with one of her friends and get used to the audition process.
Things didn’t go as planned.
Methuen’s Melissa Driscoll made it through the first rounds of auditions and was headed to Foxwoods on July 8 for the final tryouts to become a Boston Celtics dancer.
“I just wanted to get my feet wet and go through auditions, get used to auditions basically,” said Driscoll, 22. “As soon as I got (to Waltham) I was like, ‘Wow, this is a big deal,’ and then all of a sudden I’m going to Foxwoods. I’m like, ‘Whoa!’ because at Foxwoods, no word of a lie, there was not one girl that didn’t deserve a spot. They were all amazing.”
It wasn’t just a matter of showing up in Connecticut, though.
“They sent a DVD of the audition number we had to do and we were instructed to learn the dance through the DVD,” Driscoll explained. “They also told us what to wear and what not to wear to the audition. I went to the gym every day to get into shape and I had to learn the routine.”, THE BROADCASTER Body:
After a weekend of grueling auditions, Driscoll was selected on July 11 as one of the 21 first Celtics dancers.
“We danced all weekend from six o’clock in the morning until 11 o’clock at night,” Driscoll said while getting ready to perform at the Celtics game against the Clippers at the TD Banknorth Garden on Feb. 2. “At the end they picked 21 girls and I made it. I was so excited.”
Driscoll remembered she almost gave up the opportunity because she was performing with a modern ballet dance company based in Northampton, and needed to leave the Waltham audition early to be there on time.
Driscoll kept looking at the clock, trying to decide what to do.
“I kind of got nervous, but it was worth it,” Driscoll said. “I stayed and at the end I went up to Marina (Ortega, dance team director) saying that I had a performance and needed to leave, but then I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to stay. I want this so bad.’ And I ended up staying and thank goodness I did because that was a life-changing (event).”
Life changing is not an exaggeration.
“I looked around and said, ‘These are my girls now, a new family.’ I can’t even tell you; it was just so exciting,” Driscoll said. “I think Marina has a very good sense of character with people. I think she picked an amazing group of girls. We all get along; we love each other; we do everything together; we go out together. Dancing for me is such a big thing in my life and if you’re dancing with someone, you have a connection with that person and it’s a very special relationship that all of us share together.”
Driscoll grew up in Methuen and still lives there today while attending classes at the University of Massachusetts Lowell for her degree in psychology and dance.
Even if you have seen her on the court at the Celtics games, you may not recognize her on campus.
“I look horrible when I go to school,” Driscoll said, laughing. “I wake up, just put a hat on and put my hood on. I just do my work and go … It’s just me being humble. I don’t like to flaunt it. I’m proud of (being a Celtics dancer) and I’ll say it to anybody but I don’t like to brag.”
Driscoll, who has been dancing since she was 3, said basketball and baseball are her two favorite sports to watch and play.
“I’m not good,” Driscoll said. “Well actually, I didn’t play basketball but I did play softball when I was kid, but they are my favorite sports to watch.”
Driscoll, who said Larry Bird is her favorite basketball player, said being a part of the organization she grew up watching with her family is amazing.
“I remember when I was little, my Uncle Chad used to have this little ceramic thing, something of the Celtics and I just remember always looking at it,” Driscoll said. “I remember thinking it’s so much bigger than that, and then when you’re involved, it is absolutely amazing to be a part of something like this.”
Before transferring to UMass Lowell, Driscoll attended UMass Amherst. When she got the position on the dance team she moved back home and switched schools.
With classes, practice, rehearsals and games, it’s a wonder Driscoll even has time to sleep.
“I’ve always been very busy,” Driscoll explained. “Like when I went to school in Amherst, I worked full time and went to school full time. I took as many classes as I could, probably more than I should have. Then I was in the dance company and I would have rehearsal on top of that because I’m a dance major and then concerts and all these things.
“So, I’m used to being so busy that I handle things better if I’m busy. If I’m not busy I don’t know what to do with myself so I think it fits my personality.”