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Tinker Airman chases Thunder, becomes devoted fan

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Senior Airman Ke-turah "Joi" Floyd "clicks" with Oklahoma City Thunder fans. That's right; she "Communicates courteously, Listens to learn, Initiates immediately, Creates connections and Knows her stuff."

The 72nd Security Forces Squadron member is a Storm Chaser.

A part of the pep squad since the beginning of the current basketball season, Floyd runs through the stands of the Oklahoma City Arena cheering for the home team. She encourages guests to root for the Thunder and tosses promotional freebies to them. Floyd auditioned for the spot and credits the security forces squadron for giving her the confidence to audition.

"You have to be confident enough to greet strangers and working security forces helped with that," said Floyd, 26. "Working the gate and welcoming people to Tinker prepared me for the Thunder."

Floyd, a California native, grew up as a Los Angeles Lakers fan. She participated in cheerleading in middle and high school and dreamed of one day becoming a Laker Girl. But, that day never came. Instead, Floyd joined the Air Force and was disappointed to learn the Air Force didn't offer any cheerleading programs. Additionally, assignments landed her in North Dakota and Greenland, where there was no NBA team or known professional athletic team.

In 2008, her luck changed. She was reassigned to Tinker, the same year the Seattle SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. Her allegiance to the Lakers began to shift and Floyd found herself cheering for the likes of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Last season Floyd said she attended seven games and one of her friends, an Oklahoma City Thunder Girl, encouraged her to audition for Storm Chasers.

"She said it was an opportunity to do something like cheerleading," Floyd said. "It was interactive."

That caught Floyd's interest. After all, Floyd works a shift schedule, is the mother of a toddler and is in college studying for her bachelor's in criminal justice. Flexibility was key.
This past July, she was one of more than 200 people who participated in a four-part audition to become a Storm Chaser. After successfully surviving the dancing, improvisation, dance battle and talent -- where she performed a hip-hop routine -- portions of try-outs, Floyd said she is one of 26 Storm Chasers who entertain Thunder crowds during each home game.

Working a schedule of Sunday through Tuesday and alternating Wednesdays, Floyd sees up to 18,203 ticketholders each game. Even though there are highlights like being on the floor with the players and hearing the crowd roar, Floyd said the job does have it challenges.

"It's tough to still cheer on the team when they're losing, no one likes to lose," Floyd said. "But, I really do love the team."

In fact, Floyd said she is no longer a Lakers fan. While her allegiance was torn during the 2010 playoffs, she is rooting for the home team.

"I've completely converted. I'm now for Oklahoma City," she said, "completely."