By Tiffany White
On the eve of the 2013 NFL Draft, nearly 2,000 Rams season-ticket holders wrapped around the team’s facility, eagerly awaiting last minute insight from general manager Les Snead on the draft process.
When the doors finally opened, the masses made their way inside and quickly paced down the hall that led to the team’s indoor practice field. Upon arrival to the field, they were welcomed by cheerleaders and a theatrical scene of blue and gold.
While fans enjoyed special guest appearances and ate a hefty barbecue dinner, Keely Fimbres, the Rams’ director of special events, worked vigorously behind the scenes to ensure a smooth operation. Once the evening ended and the fans disseminated to their cars with hope and optimism for the ensuing draft, Fimbres let out a sigh of relief. After catching her breath for a second, ideas spun in her head as to how she could build and improve the event for next year.
Her train never slows.
Without much time for someone on the outside to process, she is already on to a new staple of productions.
“It’s not so bad,” Fimbres said. “You kind of get into a rhythm. Once you get in the rhythm its fine. It’s just getting to that rhythm.”
Fimbres had already completed 65 events before the start of the 2012 season and immediately prior to the Rams pre-draft event, Fimbres orchestrated the 2013 Rams cheerleading tryouts, which culminated in a grand finale at The Pageant a week earlier. Under her tutelage the Rams have selected worthy cheerleading candidates with full-time jobs as doctors, scientists, lawyers and nurses, amongst other professions.
According to Fimbres, managing the cheerleaders is a day-to-day element with late-night practices twice a week and over 800 appearances each season. Someone walking in her shoes for a day may think she is leveled with the daunting challenge of those long hours. As for Fimbres, she would describe it as nothing short of a dream job.
“It’s never the same,” Fimbres said. “It’s very different and it’s a lot of fun—always.”
Fimbres has been with the Rams for 20 years and in her current role she is responsible for all corporate events in addition to the Rams Cheerleaders. Before joining the team, she was a member of the Long Beach State University dance team, where they were twice crowned national champions. She also dipped her foot in entertainment and has been featured in commercials and two movies – Last Boy Scout and Lethal Weapon III.
Despite her experiences in sports and entertainment, Fimbres had aspirations of a career in the health science field.
“I started as a cheerleader back in Los Angeles and the girl who had the cheerleader assistant job quit the week of opening day,” Fimbres said. “My boss at the time said, ‘You have a little bit of free time, you’re in school. Would you mind helping and I’ll let you study when we’re not busy?’
“Ultimately, it was not what I wanted to do, but it’s what I love to do.”
With such a heavy load, Fimbres has found a group of helpers who make her job easier.
“I have some people that help, which is great,” Fimbres said. “Sarah Rouland, who also works in community relations, and then we have what we call ‘Rambassadors,’ which are former cheerleaders who have experience and knowledge of what it takes and what’s necessary. They just come back and help us on gameday.”
Game days for Fimbres can be a 15-hour roller coaster ride in itself. She may open the day preparing for a tailgate across the street from the Edward Jones Dome, then engage with season-ticket holders inside the building until kickoff before making the cheerleaders her priority for the remainder of the game.
“Last year we had 24 cheerleaders on the field per game,” Fimbres said. “Three would sit and do promotions and calendar sales. They would do suite visits and sell calendars and do community events. They became a promotional piece for us.”
Fimbres makes it a point to find new and innovative ways to engage fans and is already working around the clock in preparation for the upcoming season.
“Sometimes you go with two hours of sleep and you just have to keep it moving,” Fimbres said. “You have to be able to come early and stay late because ultimately it’s your show from beginning to end.”