The 2015 Buffalo Bandettes!

The 2015 Buffalo Bandettes!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Bandettes at the Bandits Regular Season Finale

Last Saturday night when Buffalo hosted Vancouver, the game was only close through 3 quarters and when they traveled to Connecticut to face New England, that time dropped down to a half. The regular season closed up in Banditland with that same New England team traveling to Buffalo and the game was only close through about a quarter. The Bandits got hot down the stretch this season and Mitch Jones, acquired only 3 weeks ago, was a big factor in last night's finale tallying 4 goals. With Benesch, Hill, Dhane Smith, and Tavares leading the charge, the Blackwolves held a lead for a total of 13 seconds early in the 1st quarter. After former Bandit Brett Bucktooth's score, the Bandits poured in the goals on both of New England's beleaguered goaltenders and sent them home until December with a 20-10 beatdown.
MaKenzie and Janelle
Syidah and Melanie
It was also a regular season finale for the Bandettes as well, as they'll be waiting to see if Buffalo can get past Rochester to find out if they'll be back performing for the fans in Banditland in 2 weeks for the 1st game of  the NLL Eastern Finals. One thing I found out when I got to the arena, where the Bandettes were selling autographed lacrosse balls again, was that this will be the last season for 4th year vet and 1st year captain Lauren. Some girls come off as kind of shy when they first get in the pros, as they get acclimated to it all. Knowing Lauren these past 4 seasons, that was never the case with her. She's probably about as goal-oriented a person as anyone I've ever known and I wouldn't be surprised if she had planned on a 4-year career when she first tried out in October of 2011. That being said, I'd be far from upset if she changed her mind on retirement from the squad.

Janelle. Stephanie, and Lauren
Syidah and Stephanie

For the 3rd intermission performance, the girls donned jerseys, which always seems to excite the fans when it happens once a season. Last season when it happened, there was a bit of a jersey malfunction that went viral. There were no such issues this time around and the Bandettes had another outstanding performance to finish off the regular season.
Jennifer loving her Dhane Smith jersey
One last regular season squad photo for 2015

You can see all the pics at
Up next, the Bandits travel down the Thruway to Rochester Friday night for the 1st round of the NLL Playoffs. A loss ends their 2015 season while a win returns them home to Banditland and the support of the Bandettes with an NLL East Final matchup against Toronto.

Friday, May 1, 2015

2009 Jills Open Workshop-revisited

With the Bandits and Bandettes regular season winding down, we're kicking off our summer series with a look back at the 2009 Buffalo Jills, starting with the Jills Open Workshop. For the 2nd season in a row, we held it at Fusion Dance Studio, owned and operated by Jills Choreographer Kelli Wagner. When I arrived, Kelli and the captains were already hard at work getting things set up with gift bags for all the prospective Jills so I joined in to help the work go faster. There were some new faces among the captains as 3rd year vet Jill became a co-captain while Nicole P got promoted to captain. The previous season, Kelly H was the sole ambassador captain until she took ill and with her retirement, 4th year vet Danielle took over in 2009 with 3rd year vet Keisha as co-captain.
It wasn't long before the vets and prospective rookies started showing up, and Anna and Liz even introduced me to a friend of theirs, who not only made the squad but spent 4 seasons as a Jill, Alyssa B.
Anna, incoming rookie Alyssa B, and Liz
As it turned out, several ambassadors were trying out to make the switch to dance, including Liz, Amanda F, Vincenza, and returning alum Kaitlin V. Before things got started, while girls were still checking in, one potential rookie said hi like she knew me and I wished her luck but for the life of me, I didn't think I knew her. It didn't click until a few days later that it was former 97Rock intern Katy who wound up not only making the squad but landed the cover of the swimsuit calendar! Also on-hand for the workshop was CW23's Lydia Dominick. She was looking for someone to talk to whose story would really be worth telling so I directed her to Kaitlin.
Jill taking photos
Vincenza, Dr Amanda, returning alum Kaitlin V, and Jess

The captains and recently-retired Kelly H worked on helping everyone check in while everyone was getting re-acquainted. Jills alum Lisa Y (2003-06) was also on hand to help out Val and Lisa even showed up in matching outfits. Girls trying out in matching outfits was hardly new after Rachael and Autumn had done so in 2006 but Val and Lisa wanted to get a jump on things and start matching even at the workshop.
Val and Lydia
some of the girls working through the dance moves
listening to what Kelli has to say
Stephanie B, fresh from the Pro Bowl Jess, and Stefanie
Ambassador Squad captain Danielle with her predecessor Kelly H
See all the pics at

From the Bandettes comes a photo from last December's Open Practice. After 5 memorable seasons on the squad, LB stepped down but still made the occasional appearance this season, including the alumnae game and helping out at the Open Practice. Stephanie learned a lot from LB during their time together on the squad and had to get a pic with her and so, posing for this photo during the 1st half of the practice before the Bandettes went out to perform are LB and Stephanie.
LB and Stephanie

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bring Back The Jills!

This weekend, the Buffalo Bills are holding their annual Draft Party at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Saturday afternoon but there will be something notable missing...the Buffalo Jills. Missing will be the chance to meet these beautiful ambassadors for the Bills while you head into the stadium or go through the locker room tour. In past years, they've even performed on stage to lots and lots of applause. In 2009, when the Bills started this tradition of draft parties, veteran and rookie dancers alike performed on stage inside the stadium with the rookies showing off the routine that everyone had to learn to get through the 1st round of playoffs.
In 2014, the barren sidelines were a distraction and the lack of pro cheerleaders put the Bills in a minority in the NFL as only 3 other teams didn't have any pro-level cheerleaders at all. The Giants, Lions, and Browns all field unofficial squads who act as ambassadors for the teams without any compensation of any sort from the teams. There are some fans who may still be stuck on that high school stereotype that cheerleaders are stuck up but when it comes to the pros, nothing could be further from the truth. Helping others is what they're all about. The co-chair of the BvB organization, staging powder puff football games to raise money for Alzheimers, spent 8 season on the Jills. You'll see Jills alums participating in just about every charity event in WNYThere are some fans who don't believe we need them but they just lack the awareness that the rest of us have.
There are many reasons the Jills need to return to the sidelines.
When a girl grows up dancing and cheering, the avenues for continuing on with what she loves are limited and pro cheerleading is one of those avenues. The Buffalo Bandettes squad is currently the only active pro squad in Buffalo and as exclusive as an NFL Cheerleading squad is, the Bandettes dance team is even more so with a much smaller squad of around 15 girls as opposed to the 35-45 that the Jills have typically carried.
NFL Cheerleaders are a lot more than what is seen on the sidelines
o They visit US military bases across the country and overseas, providing service members with entertainment and a connection to home
o They participate in charity events across the region, helping to raise money for great causes
o They participate in community events with the players and, in many cases, in place of the players who are unable to due to practice and film study
o They visit schools to read to children and encourage them to do well in school and exercise
When not cheering, they’re students, nurses, teachers, business people, and business owners among other things
Cheerleading encourages hard work, dedication, teamwork, and attention to detail

What can we do to ensure that the Jills return? Educate those around you as to the benefits of having pro cheerleaders representing the Bills again. Let the Bills organization know that bringing back the Jills is important. Season ticket holders can do this easily through their ticket reps, who are there to address your concerns and pass them along to team officials.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Bandettes at the Bandits-Stealth Game

It's been an up-and-down season for the Buffalo Bandits in 2015 as they've been hovering around .500 all season, never dipping more than a game below that mark but never going more than a game above either. With Toronto and Rochester locked in at the top 2 spots, the Bandits only needed a win in its final 3 games or a single loss by New England to grab the final playoff spot.  After having last weekend off, the worry was that rust could set in and that the Bandits would start their final 3 games poorly. The game started off slowly as the Bandits and Stealth never got more than a few goals away from each other and going into the 4th quarter, the hometown Bandits held a 9-7 lead. Whether it be some change in tactics from head coach Troy Cordingly or just a case where the Bandits got into a groove finally, they started pouring in the goals behind fan favorite Mark Steenhuis and Ryan Benesch, beating the Stealth back to Vancouver with a 17-9 score, locking Buffalo into the 3rd spot in the NLL's Eastern Division.
Stephanie and Abby before the game
Lauren with autographed lacrosse balls for sale!
When I got to the arena I discovered it was lacrosse ball sale day. Every season, the Bandettes sell autographed lacrosse balls to help raise funds for not only their program, but for charity as well. The Bandettes will sell the lacrosse balls in small bags and after purchasing, you can open it and see whose autograph you got. After grabbing a few photos, I got my own ball from Stephanie and Abby, which turned out to have Bandits goalie Anthony Cosmo's signature on it. The girls were pretty busy with sales so I didn't get the chance to visit much though I did talk to Erin and welcome Janelle back, who had, along with Mandy, missed the last game due to a scheduling conflict. Speaking of Erin, the beautiful Bandettes coach is our current Bandette of The Week. The Bandette of The Week feature was, like the Jill of The Week feature, started not only to keep the content of this Blog fresh, but to allow the individuals who make up these squads a chance to shine on their own. As a team, they deservedly get many accolades but each of these young women have put in countless hours of hard work to make the squad and continue to show they belong there. For that, each one of them deserves plenty of recognition and accolades. Knowing that they love these features, and I have often asked for their opinions on them, is the greatest reward for doing them.
Lauren, Syidah, Mandy, and Abby in action
spelling out Bandits at 1st intermission
Brittany and Chrissy
This season, the Bandits have held a theme night every home game and this week was a Fight Cancer night with a very particular focus. Last season, then-Bandits asst captain Shawn Williams' son Tucker was diagnosed with Stage III Burkitt Lymphoma. He fought it bravely, never losing his smile and positive attitude, until he lost his fight in December. The entire NLL rallied around Tucker and the Williams family last season and the Braver Than Brave Foundation was formed. Shawn and his family were onhand for last night's game and were introduced before the game in a special ceremony. The Bandits wore special jerseys that were designed by Tucker's brother and his best friend and a Shawn delivered a speech via video before the game.

In addition, Tucker's sister Dylana got to sing the Canadian National Anthem and fans were encouraged to bring in posters that were available through social media showing who in their family is fighting or has fought cancer.
MaKenzie and Mandy
Chrissy and Jennifer
The Bandettes holding up their cards
all those beautiful smiles

You can see all the pics at

Next up, the Bandits travel to Connecticut today to face off against the New England Blackwolves before returning home next Saturday night for the regular season finale against those same opponents. While the standings can't change for the Bandits, win or lose, they hope to keep winning and ride that momentum into the playoffs which start in 2 weeks!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Bandette of The Week Erin

While we may have finished up our look at the dancers that make up the Buffalo Bandettes last week, it goes without saying that their coach deserves some love as well. Erin's been doing the job basically on her own most of the season and with a small amount of experience among the girls on the squad, it must be a challenging job but with well-chosen captains in Lauren, Mandy, and Cheri, things have run as smoothly as they would with 2 coaches. She started off her pro career in 2003 as a member of the Buffalo Bombshells, cheering on the Arena Football League's Buffalo Destroyers and came to the Bandettes in 2004, where she made captain in only her 2nd season. In 2010, she stepped away from the spotlight and became the Bandettes assistant coach and head choreographer before becoming the head coach last season. Away from the squad, she's a happily married mother who likely has all Disney stuff in the baby's room. Erin is a huge Disney fan and even missed a few Open Practices in the past because of previously scheduled trips to Disney World. Erin's secondary photo comes from the recent game against New England. Posing for a quick photo before the game are Erin and Stephanie.
Erin and Stephanie

From the Jills comes a photo from the 2010 Buffalo Bills Open Practice. Several of the Jills dancers greeted fans as they came in for the practice before performing onfield. Shown posing for a photo are Natalie and Loren. Sometimes, a pair of Jills or Bandettes develop a pretty special bond beyond the ones they develop with the rest of their squadmates and pictures like these of a pair that became the best of friends are not only special to them, but a blessing to be able to take.
Natalie and Loren