Friday, December 19, 2014

2011-12 Buffalo Bandettes tryouts-revisited

This week, we take a look back at the tryouts for the 2012 Bandettes. Going to tryouts was pretty unexpected for me that year as Jaclyn invited me to come by just that morning. Since I didn't have anything else going on to speak of, I took her up on it after charging up my camera batteries for a couple of hours. When I got there, they were still checking girls in so I hung around by Jaclyn and Jessica, who was there helping out before she officially retired, while Erin and Meghan warmed up to teach the tryout routine.
Jaclyn, Erin Y, Meghan, and Jessica
Erin and Meghan warming up
As the vets came in, they were both surprised and excited to see me but none seemed as excited as Chrissy, going into her 2nd season. Her rookie season, Chrissy seemed very quiet and subdued most of the year, getting her feet wet in the pros and taking it all in as a rookie with several girls on the squad with a lot of experience. We barely talked her rookie season so when she came up and gave me a big smile and a hug, it was definitely a shock but she was just so excited to see everyone and ready to get back to work as a veteran Bandette.
It was my 1st time working with the Bandettes at tryouts so I wasn't totally sure how different it would be from Jills tryouts. The biggest difference is the timeframe. With the Jills, girls learn the routine at the Open Workshop, perform it for the judges about a week later, and then go through several more rounds until the 90 or so girls that 1st tried out are whittled down to 35-45 girls on the final squad. With the Bandettes, they learn the routine on Saturday and then come back the following day to perform and talk to the judges before the final squad is selected. For a few years, it was usually around 30 girls that tried out before the squad was selected but 2011 had around 45 hopefuls so we had a pretty full room for the few hours of the workshop. As with Jills tryouts, I stayed off to the side, grabbing a few photos here and there. With the lighting in the room, I didn't have to use a flash thankfully so it didn't distract anyone.
Several prospective rookies working through the routine including Alecia, Stephanie C, and Amanda
Jessica and her sister
See all the pics at https://buffaloprocheerbuffalobandettes.shutterfly.com/pictures/4071 
While there, I made sure to get video of the routine so that I could not only share it with the fans, but with the girls trying out by putting it on the Bandettes' Facebook page. Judging by the number of views it got by the next morning, those young ladies were definitely watching!

From the 2013 Jills comes a photo from the Jets game, a game in which the Jills did their Salute to Service after Veteran's Day. They did a special performance for their 3rd quarter break routine in military-type garb and then stayed in those outfits the rest of the game. In this photo, we see Allysha and Emmy as they come off the field near the end of the game.
Allysha and Emmy

Friday, December 12, 2014

The 3rd Annual Blondes Vs Brunettes Buffalo game-revisited

In 2011, the Blondes Vs Brunettes organization held their 3rd Annual game at Sweet Home High School and for that year, they had members of the Buffalo Bandettes dance team on hand to cheer them on and help out. For me, it was pretty cool to have the Bandettes there instead of the Jills only because I hadn't seen any of the Bandettes since the end of the Bandits season. I also was able to get a few updates as far as Bandettes tryouts and the news that Lauren S was calling it a career. Also, Noelle told me that she wasn't sure about returning for a 2nd season and was thinking about giving the Jills a shot. As it turned out, she did return to the Bandettes but a few years later, she made the 2014 Buffalo Jills. Of course she never got to take the field but hopefully will return for 2015 once the suit is settled and a new team-run squad is set up by the Buffalo Bills.
Bandettes at the BvB Game
waiting for the balloon release
While the Bandettes were selling raffle tickets, cheering, and interacting with a fraternity from UB that was on hand as cheerleaders themselves, there was a game going on. Bandettes alum Jenn C (2001) and the Brunettes took down the Blondes by a score of 15-7 in a game that featured not only Jenn, but several more former Buffalo pro cheerleaders/dancers. Danielle H and Tammy helped Jenn rep the Brunettes after all had spent time on the Jills while Jills alum Desiree joined an injured Amanda F (Jills 2001-03, Bandettes 2006-07) in repping the Blondes.
on the sidelines
Halftime posing with the cheerleaders
with Bandettes alum Amanda F
You can see all the pics at https://buffaloprocheerbuffalobandettes.shutterfly.com/pictures/3912
Of course with an outstanding dance squad like the Bandettes on hand, they just had to do a halftime dance performance and obliged the fans with a great routine led off with some of Noelle's gymnastics.

From the Jills comes a photo from the 2013 game against the Chiefs. Occasionally, I've been able to get a few outstanding shots of the girls coming out of the tunnel, like this one taken at the start of the game. Shown on their way out to the field are Emmy and Allysha.
Emmy and Allysha

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Buffalo Bills Cheerleaders’ Fight for Wages and Respect

Here's another story on the Jills lawsuit, this time from the New York Times.


Alyssa cannot recall the precise moment she realized her dream gig as a Buffalo Bills cheerleader had turned into a nightmare.
Each week held so many indignities.
Supervisors ordered the cheerleaders, known as the Buffalo Jills, to warm up in a frigid, grubby stadium storeroom that smelled of gasoline. They demanded that cheerleaders pay $650 for uniforms. They told the cheerleaders to do jumping jacks to see if flesh jiggled.
Read the rest at  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/11/sports/football/buffalo-bills-cheerleaders-fight-for-wages-and-respect.html

There's not a lot of info that hasn't been out there in the public already, although the conditions in which they warmed up are a bit of an eye-opener.
There is a little bit of misinformation in the article as the writer mentions that the Bills shut down the Jills' operations. The fact of the matter is, it was Stejon Productions that made that call. The Bills had been planning to give Stejon Productions $30K for 2014 to assist with paying the girls, finally, and withdrew that offer after the allegations brought forth in the lawsuit came to light. Considering the Bills hadn't given the Jills anything more than a game ticket and a parking pass for each girl for the past 3 decades as it is, the fact that they withdrew their offer of giving them money hardly seems like it was their call to shut things down. They certainly should have been ensuring the Jills were paid all along though when you consider how profitable NFL franchises, including the Bills, are. The largest way in which pro cheerleaders help NFL teams is in public relations and paying young ladies to represent the team like the Jills have for over 50 years seems like money well-spent. Also, the idea that 150 women tried out is a serious exaggeration as from 2006 on, the number never topped 120 and never made it past 90 from 2009 on. Is it a position that a lot of young women have been wanting to have? Of course, but many have been turned off from it by the lack of compensation.
As far as the girls involved in the lawsuit, they want the Jills back on the field as much as anyone else. They just want to ensure that future Jills are properly compensated and treated fairly instead of "like commodities" in the words of one former Jill. Odds are against the Jills being brought back before the suit is settled but once that's done, we can hope that Bills owner Kim Pegula, a former Houghton College cheerleader herself, will move to #BringBackTheJills and it's up to the fans to keep the Bills aware of how much we want the Jills brought back. I myself have heard from several parents asking about the future of the Jills and the Jr Jills programs as they have been hopeful to get their daughters involved in Jr Jills and eventually the Jills.
You can do your part to help the cause at http://www.bringbackthejills.com/ The best part of the shirts sold at that site is that they not only help get the word out, but profits from the shirts goes to the Hunter's Hope Foundation.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Giving some props to a former Jill

Here at the Buffalo Pro Cheer Blog, we haven't held back from praising the Jills and Bandettes as well as members of other Buffalo squads for all their hard work. When they leave the squad, we generally respect their privacy as they've left the spotlight but will definitely promote their businesses when they want the attention. We've got alumnae from these squads running their own businesses in Buffalo, NYC, Charlotte, NC, and Kentucky to name a few places. There are also alumnae who kept performing like actress Theresa Joy and singers Ashlee A and Aimee L but there are also some who have made their mark in a big way without fanfare. Jills alum Jenn C (1997-2004) is a co-chair for the Buffalo chapter of the Blondes Vs Brunettes organization and under the leadership of Jenn and co-chair Deanna Bednarz, they've raised over $200,000 for the Alzheimer's Association of Western NY.
Desiree and Chelsea, a 2012 Jills alum who was on hand to support her friend's cause
Saturday, after the Bandits Open Practice and the 716ers game, I stopped by Bottoms Up, a club on Chippewa Avenue in Buffalo. The reason for this wasn't to go clubbing or anything but I was invited to the birthday party that a former Jill was throwing for her mother. It wasn't a typical birthday party though as Desiree (2005 Jills) and her mother are huge on doing a lot for our furry friends. Instead of just a regular party, Desiree had a chinese auction set up and a 50-50 drawing with all the proceeds going to benefit the Buffalo Animal Shelter. When all was said and done, Desiree's party raised well over $1000 to help take care of the animals in Buffalo and to find them good homes. None of this surprises me as since I've gotten to know Desiree the last few years, I've noticed that she's almost like Buffalo's answer to Joanna Krupa, a model/actress who uses her fame to help out animal causes around the world. Desiree may not have the fame Joanna does, but it's great to see people doing their part on behalf of charity, proof that she's not just a pretty face.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Introducing the Buffalo 716ers Dancers!

Professional basketball has had an up-and-down existence in Buffalo. The Buffalo Braves still have a devoted fanbase who want to see an NBA team return to Buffalo after the Braves left for the west coast to play in San Diego and then LA as the Clippers. In the past decade, three seperate minor league franchises have set up shop in Buffalo before folding and the 716ers are hoping the 4th one is the charm, playing in the Premier Basketball League for a 2nd season. Playing their home games at Tapestry Charter School just south of Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo just off Delaware Avenue, the games are affordable at $7 a ticket and this season feature a dance team that performs at intermissions and halftime.
With this being my 1st game covering the 716ers Girls, I had no idea what to expect so I kind of played it by ear. I never saw the squad's coaches when I was there which I found different but the squad seemed to be well-prepared from what I could tell. When I got there, I grabbed a seat in the stands not far from a rookie on the Bandettes who knows some members of the squad as well as some of the players.
Since I wasn't totally sure how to approach working with a brand new squad like this, I stuck to shooting video of their performances as well as a few stills of them in action. Hopefully as the season goes on, I'll get more photos and video of them in action.

For the people who really want to lure the NBA back to Buffalo, I definitely encourage you to go to these games. Besides the fact that these are professional basketball players representing Buffalo who deserve the support, a top league like the NBA will only take notice if the passion for pro basketball is high in the area. Back in the mid-90s, when MLB was looking at expanding, Buffalo had a strong shot at getting a franchise for one reason...Buffalo Bisons games had a lot of support. The support the AAFC Buffalo Bills got is also a huge reason that Ralph Wilson Jr placed the AFL's Bills in Buffalo as well.
As far as the game itself, Buffalo took an early lead behind Antonio Speed and Glenroy Carr and never looked back, sending the Titans back to Lynchburg after getting crushed by a score of 127-82 in front of a sold-out crowd for the Home Opener.
Coming up next for the 716ers and 716ers Girls, the Erie Hurricane blow into Buffalo Saturday at 2pm!