The 2015 Buffalo Bandettes!

The 2015 Buffalo Bandettes!

Friday, May 22, 2015

2009 Buffalo Jills Congratulatory Party-revisited

In mid-May 2009, the Jills invaded Club Paradise for their annual Congratulatory Party, an event designed primarily to introduce their fans to the new squad. With the later date, it didn't coincide with any Bandits games and I was actually one of the 1st to arrive, helping Jills management with setting up before some of the Jills started arriving to pitch in, led by one of the rookies I hadn't met at the Draft Party, Alyssa B. By the time we had everything set up, the rest of the squad had arrived and the fans started showing up soon afterwards.
Eileen and Omarlla starting their 10th season together
Loren and Angelina
In addition to the fans who showed up, the emcee for the evening showed up in the form of Lydia Dominick. Currently on WGRZ, she was with CW23 at the time and did a series of reports on Jills tryouts for a 2nd season. After getting to know some of the Jills the previous season, her friend Heather joined the squad in 2009.
Heather, Lydia, and Katy
Jill, Jennifer, Omarlla, and Lisa
In truth, there were generally more family members and friends than fans at these events and sometimes we got to know them quite well over the years. Some of these friends decided that they loved what their friend on the squad was doing so much that they decided to try out for the squad themselves. Heather had met some of the Jills just out on the town but Lindsey C, who joined the squad in 2010, had become a regular attendee of Jills events in support of her friend Lisa.
Lisa and friends, including future Jills and Falcons cheerleader Lindsey
Kelly Ann, Michelle, and Kristen
Kaitlin, Anna, and Vincenza
The bulk of the party was spent mingling, selling raffle tickets, and, for me, taking lots and lots of photos. When there was probably about an hour left in the event, the raffle prizes were awarded and it was time for the most-highly awaited portion of the event, the dance performance, which was split up into 3 segments with vets dancing 1st, then rookies and ambassadors who switched to dance, and finishing up with more vets.

Squad photo with Lydia

Following the performances, fans got their chance to get photos taken with not 1 or 2 Jills, but the entire squad before things wound down and some of the Jills started leaving for the evening with others either still on duty or just feeling the need to dance some.
Alyssa B with some balloons
Murissa posing for the camera
You can see all the pics at https://buffaloprocheerbuffalojills.shutterfly.com/pictures/4256
Ayeshia, Vincenza, Laura, and Keisha with the owner of Club Paradise

From the Bandettes comes a photo from the January game vs Minnesota. The Bandits had a theme night every game this season and that game was their "Superhero night" where fans were encouraged to come dressed up as their favorite heroes. Shown posing with Hawkman and Ironman are members of Lauren's line before the game.
LaToya, Syidah, Hawkman, Stephanie, Iron Man, Janelle, Lauren, and Abby.

Friday, May 15, 2015

2009 Buffalo Bills Draft Party-revisited

Over the last few years, the Buffalo Bills having draft parties for their season ticket holders has become the norm but it wasn't always that way. In 2009, the last year that the draft was held completely on the weekend, the Bills held their first of these annual draft parties, holding it in the stadium for all their season ticket holders. Beforehand, the lots were open a few hours before it started, allowing fans to engage in a little bit of offseason tailgating before going inside. Even as we tailgated, other fans lined up to go in about an hour before they opened the gate. All during the tailgate, while we were parked near the stadium, the Jills dancers were practicing inside the stadium. I knew this only because the familiar tune of Kelli Wagner's remix of "Boom, Boom Pow" was playing over the stadium speakers. The Bills hadn't expected such a huge turnout apparently and only opened 1 gate that day so it was a slow-moving line once it got moving.
Ruby, Katy, Lindsay, Kristen, and Kelly Ann
Waiting in lines is far from anyone's favorite thing so my friends and I waited until the line died down to make our way in and we were greeted by 5 rookie members of the Jills ambassador squad. After we got inside the stadium, most of my group went up to check out the Jim Kelly Club while I went down on the field for a little while to take some more photos. Before I got far, I ran into Stefanie and Kaitlin, who introduced me to rookie beauty Julie. After I spent some time with them, taking some photos, I went over near the stage where several more of the Jills were posing with young fans. I took several more photos while visiting with the vets and meeting more of the rookies before I saw a few familiar faces. Justina of the Bandettes was there for the event with her sister as was 2003-06 Jills alum Lisa Y.
Stefanie, Julie, and Kaitlin
Stephanie B, Katie K, Omarlla, Lisa, Ayeshia, Jill, and Murissa
Jess, Jackie, Amanda F, and Nicole P
Eileen, Anna, Liz, and Angelina

After spending some time with various groups of Jills taking photos and meeting a few more rookies, it was time for the Jills dancers to do what they do best as they took the stage about a half hour into the actual draft for 4 dance performances.

After performing, the Jills went back to mingling with the fans until the Bills went on the clock for their 1st round pick, upon which most everyone in the became focused on the pick being made. Afterwards, they went back onstage for another pair of performances before the dancers were done for the day.
Joya, Kelly, Jenica, Caity, Ashley, and Gabrielle
The dancers may have been done for the day but the Ambassadors were still on hand as fans toured the Bills' gameday locker room. At the end of the tour, fans got to take a photo in the Bills Press Briefing room with a pair of the Jills Ambassadors. You can see all the pics at https://buffaloprocheerbuffalojills.shutterfly.com/pictures/4185
Lindsay, Danielle, and Kelly Ann

From the Bandettes comes a photo from the Bandits Home Opener against Edmonton. The 2015 squad featured 2 new captains, including 2nd year vet Mandy. Here she is posing with members of her line in a photo taken while they were greeting fans coming up to the 100 level for the game. Shown posing from left to right are Jennifer, MaKenzie, Mandy, Brittany, Melanie, and Chrissy.
Jennifer, MaKenzie, Mandy, Brittany, Melanie, and Chrissy

Friday, May 8, 2015

2009 Buffalo Jills 1st cuts-revisited

In 2009, for the 1st time in several years, the 1st round of Jills tryouts were open to the public. I had been able to attend since 2006 but chose not to after that first year because I admit to being a bit of a softie when it comes to the girls on the squad and hate seeing them disappointed upon missing the cut. Nine years later, there's still one reaction that haunts me from that year because I haven't seen her since. With tryouts being open to the public however, it would've been irresponsible to skip it that year. Held at the Town Ballroom, I rolled in about the same time the captains started showing up. Some of the sponsors were already there setting up and after the captains were all there, they got started warming up to demonstrate the routine that the hopefuls were to perform.
Jennifer, Loren, and Katy waiting to come in
It wasn't long before hopefuls and veterans alike were lining up waiting to come in along with members of the public on hand to watch the start of the tryout process. Among the first in line were about-to-be 2nd year vet Jennifer as well as Loren and Katy, both of whom made significant contributions to the Jills after they made the squad. Unlike the workshop, I recognized Katy right away this time around. In addition to the hopefuls and veterans showing up, the judges for this round of tryouts made their appearance. Included among the judges were Bills players Chris Kelsey, James Hardy, and Terrence McGee.
Kaitlin and Gabrielle
After the doors opened, the bar area of the Town Ballroom filled up fast and we got to meet another prospective rookie who wound up having a solid few years on the Jills in the form of Kaitlin's friend Gabrielle. In addition to Val and Lisa having matching outfits, many others did as well like Jennifer and Ayeshia, Jess and Stephanie, and even rookies Caity and Riley. Unfortunately, they didn't end up dancing together so it didn't have the same effect they desired...but they made the squad so it was all good.
matching Lisa and Val
Stephanie B and Jess
rookie hopeful Kristen E
Lydia interviewing Vincenza
Eileen and her guy Jeff
Kaitlin V wasn't the only alum making a return to the squad as 2003-04 alum Kelly Ann decided to come back to the squad as an ambassador. During the second portion of tryouts that day, the ambassadors were asked questions about the Bills and Kelly Ann got stumped on one, even though I was mouthing the answer in front of her until Lydia asked the crowd for some help. Another familiar face trying out was Heather, a friend of Lydia's, who I met a month before at the birthday party of a couple of the Jills.
Lydia with Kelly Ann
Jickster and his former intern Katy
Group shot!
Lydia with her pal Heather
Since it was my 1st time photographing tryouts, I was kind of working on the fly. I started out taking photos of everyone but eventually added in video of the vets and selected rookie hopefuls. There was one negative to that as Val and Lisa were the first pair up to perform and Val, in particular, was rather disappointed they didn't get video. She forgave me quickly though but didn't forget the next year when it came tryout time again and I ensured everyone got video. After tryouts were over for the day, we all waited around for the results to be posted while vets and aspiring rookies alike posed for photos and interviewed with Lydia. You can see all the pics at https://buffaloprocheerbuffalojills.shutterfly.com/pictures/3919
From the Bandettes comes a photo from the Bandits Home Opener against the Edmonton Rush. The Bandettes were greeting fans as they came in the gates as well as when they went up the escalators. Shown posing for this picture just inside the gates are Janelle, Stephanie, and Abby.
Janelle, Stephanie, and Abby

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
Cheri

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 http://buffaloprocheerbuffalobandettes.shutterfly.com/pictures/8731
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 https://buffaloprocheerbuffalojills.shutterfly.com/pictures/3829


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