When the Golden State Warriors kicked off their regular season Tuesday night, Danville native Amira Mourad found herself in a familiar place at Oracle Arena, on the court energizing and entertaining the crowd as one of the leaders of the Warriors dance team.
A 2008 Monte Vista High School graduate, Mourad is entering her third season as a team captain for the Warriors' squad and her seventh overall performing with an NBA dance team.
"I'm excited for another highly anticipated season on #WarriorsGround," she said in an email interview over the weekend. "We are the Bay Area's team, and the excitement surrounding our team can be felt by everyone on the court. I'm excited to see how the new players on our team come together and create new memories for our fans."
Mourad helps lead the group of 20 women who practice three days a week and perform at Warriors home games, while on her off time away from working full-time as a marketing professional and maintaining her new personal health and fitness blog, Healthafied.com.
"It definitely is a balancing act but I love a busy schedule," she said. "It takes a lot of time management and good calendaring skills to stay afloat. Fortunately for me I work from home and make my own schedule, so it allows me the flexibility to have a full-time job, dance and even start a new adventure with my health and wellness website."
Dancing has almost always been an important part of Mourad's life.
She said she began dancing competitively as a young child and continued with it into high school, participating in the Monte Vista dance program all four years, plus two years on the cheerleading team followed by two years on varsity pom, including serving as captain her senior year.
Mourad also danced at Arizona State University, where she would earn a degree in nutrition and healthy living. While in Tempe, Ariz., she auditioned for the Phoenix Suns dance team as a sophomore but didn't make the cut.
She said that experience motivated her to work harder, and she captured a spot on the Suns' squad for the 2010-11 NBA season.
Upon moving back to the Bay Area, she tried out for the hometown Warriors for the 2011-12 season and has been donning the Dubs' signature royal blue and golden yellow ever since.
"It's been wonderful seeing Amira transform over the past five years," Warriors dance team director Sabrina Ellison said.
"She has grown into an exceptional leader, has opened herself up to others as a dependable teammate and caring friend, and has set an exemplary example for new dancers coming into the program about what it means to be a Warriors dancer and professional woman," Ellison added.
Mourad said she decided to pursue a captain's position two seasons ago because of her desire to mentor new team members, help the team grow and problem-solve when tough situations arise.
Ellison lauded Mourad for her reliable leadership and commitment to teammates.
"Amira brings passion and professionalism to the Warriors Dance Team; she sets the tone for our entire team every time she steps on the court," Ellison said. "As a leader, she helps me guide the team to see our collective vision and always keeps the integrity of our dance team program her top priority."
Mourad said some of her favorite memories as a Warriors team member have occurred off the court, including appearing at local food banks and parks and recreation departments and traveling to China three times and the Philippines once to serve as a team ambassador.
She has also appeared at dozens of community events, hosted an "#EatLikeWarriors" cooking segment on Warriors TV and last year joined Golden State forward Draymond Green on a Santa Claus visit to Kaiser Permanente's children's ward.
"I feel they are the most impactful because we are using our time, resources and visibility to make someone else's world brighter," she said of her Warriors community appearances.
And as for her on-the-court enjoyment, she said, "I'm addicted to the process of learning a new routine and getting on court and doing what I love most."
Mourad is also devoted to maintaining and promoting a healthy lifestyle despite her often-hectic schedule. With that in mind, she launched her Healthafied health and wellness website earlier this fall.
"The feedback thus far has been terrific," she added. "I have dreamed about having a place to put my ideas, insight and inspiration for others to enjoy for years, and am happy with the site's content thus far. Now that we're in-season, readers will also get a few behind-the-scenes insights into a Warriors Dance Team member."
The website venture allows her to share ideas for workout routines, healthy on-the-go snacks and healthy pantry staples.
"I want to help others make better (healthafied) choices in their daily lives," Mourad said. "If I can make an impact in one person's life by encouraging them to live a healthier lifestyle and giving them to tools to do so, it will all be worth it."
The Warriors open their 2016-17 regular season Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Oakland against the San Antonio Spurs, a game that airs on TNT.