The Team Behind the Team…

Getting to Know: The Liberty Torch Patrol

Whenever fans come to Madison Square Garden to see a Liberty match-up, they get much more than just a basketball game. The players keep the energy on high on the court, but during timeouts, its time to shine for a different team. We’re talking about the Liberty Torch Patrol, the dance team comprised of both men and women with extensive experience in professional dance or cheerleading. The 16-member Torch Patrol entertains fans with their great dance choreography, high-flying cheerleading stunts and acrobatics.

NYLiberty.com caught up with the Torch Patrol’s leader, Michelle Harris, the team’s Entertainment Marketing Manager, to find out what it takes to put together each in-game performance to keep fans energized during the game.

How long has the Torch Patrol been a part of the Liberty family and whose idea was it for its creation?
The Torch Patrol was tested out in the WNBA inaugural year in 1997, but the team was formally introduced in 1998. With the success of the Knicks City Dancers on the NBA side, we made the decision to bring the same energy and enthusiasm to Liberty games and its fans. Ever since then, fans have come to expect the Liberty Torch Patrol's high flying stunts, energetic routines and fun T-shirt throwing during “Gotta Get Up.”

How do you feel about the amount of success that the Torch Patrol has gained over the years?
I'm very proud of the evolution of the Torch Patrol. I actually danced with them in 1998, so I know first hand where we came from. With the introduction of strong cheerleading stunts (basket tosses, pyramids, partner stunts, etc.), I feel the Torch Patrol has set a new standard and continues to impress Liberty fans game after game. I think the routines are also designed to enhance the energy in the arena. The Torch Patrol makes you want cheer for your team!

What routine really gets The Garden crowd going?
This season, I think "Rock This Party" has the best energy out of the Liberty Torch Patrol's entire repertoire. It calls out to the fans: EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!

What is the team’s favorite song to dance to and why?
The Torch Patrol's favorite routine is “Just Got Paid” – it's fun, it has great energy and the choreography is awesome. And for a professional dancer that "just gets paid" to do what they love to do...there's nothing better in life!

Who is responsible for the choreography?
Our captain, Michelle Caputo, is responsible for most of the dance choreography. The co-captain Brandon Fye is responsible for the cheerleading stunts. We hire a few choreographers to assist in giving the team new material, but the captains deserve most of the credit.

What can aspiring Torches do if they wish to become a part of the team?
We have auditions every March at our practice facility, Just Cheer, in New Jersey. You have to have a strong background in cheerleading and/or gymnastics and dance, so my advice would be to take dance classes or go to open gyms to practice your partner stunts and tumbling during the off-season. Check out NYLiberty.com in late February for specific details.

Catch the Liberty Torch Patrol at every home game this season. Score your tickets now for the next Liberty match-up. Buy them online, visit The Garden Box Office or call 877-WNBA-TIX.