Your 2016 Buffalo Bandettes!

Your 2016 Buffalo Bandettes!

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

A former Buffalo Jill on her time as a Bills cheerleader

It's been more than a year since we've seen the Buffalo Jills in action. One former Jill recalls her time with the squad in this interview.
Every fan of the Buffalo Bills can reminisce back to a time where walking into Ralph Wilson Stadium for a game meant seeing bright, peppy Buffalo Jills cheering on the sidelines. Extravagant uniforms, decked out in Bills gear, and in constant possession of a smile, there was never a dull moment with the Jills.
But what actually happened when the football games ended and the cheer practices wrapped? Sure, these women were always perky, spirited, and full of life out on the field, but what about off the field? Over the past month, I have had the pleasure of catching up with a former Jill named Jeanne, learning that although the Jills may no longer be on the field, they are livelier than ever, and have absolutely no intention of fading away.
Read the rest of the interview at

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Not About The Benjamins-a review

Last year, an article was published in the NY Post about the rash of Cheerleader lawsuits that canvassed the NFL last year and for whatever reason, it's getting a lot of traction now.
You can read that article at

Currently, we are working on ways to get the Jills reinstated. While it's unlikely that anything will happen while the lawsuit is resolved, which currently has 6 plaintiffs instead of the original 5, public awareness of the strong value of having a professional cheerleading squad is still needed. The hope is that once the suit is resolved, the Pegulas will move to bring back the Jills but under full control of the Bills organization. The San Francisco 49ers used to contract out their Gold Rush Cheerleaders in the same way the Jills were but they ended that practice in light of all the lawsuits. Their thinking was that, in taking full control back, they could ensure that no outside party would be able to do anything that wasn't on the up-and-up in regards to running a squad in their name.

We should be seeing sights like this at this time of year
Currently, squads across the NFL are in the midst of tryout season with 25 official squads and 3 unofficial ones, leaving 4 without cheerleaders for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately Buffalo is one of those after Stejon Productions President Stephanie Mateczun made the decision to shut down Jills operations. The question is why she did so. When 5 former Jills filed a lawsuit against Stejon and other parties, the suit contained some rather disturbing allegations far beyond the lack of monetary compensation. The Buffalo Bills had, just prior to the suit, agreed to pay Stejon $30,000 in 2014 to help provide proper monetary compensation for the members of the Buffalo Jills. Unfortunately, once the allegations in the lawsuit came to light, they withdrew that offer, which would require Stejon to continue not paying the Jills. Ms Mateczun went to local businessman and former Jills sponsor Russell Salvatore with a request for $70-80,000 to fund the Jills but when he refused for whatever reason, she shut the squad down. Why she went to him with a much larger request than she was going to get from the Bills remains a mystery though speculation is that other sponsors may have pulled away from Stejon's operations in light of the allegations in the lawsuit.
Alyssa B and Miranda with a young fan at the 2011 Bills Uniform Unveiling
Let's be clear that having this lawsuit in place sucks to put it bluntly. The only people who truly win in a lawsuit are the lawyers. Most everyone reading this wants the squad to come back and didn't want the squad shut down in the first place, and that includes the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Out of them, 2 spent multiple years on the squad and thoroughly enjoyed their time there prior to Stejon Productions taking control of the squad. This was despite the lack of pay and they even wanted to return to the squad a 4th season, hoping that the way things were handled in 2012 was an anomaly. There were several rules changes in 2012 that they and several others, afraid to speak up out of fear of being ostracized, took issue with. Simply put, the lawsuit isn't just about money but about working conditions more than anything else.
No matter whether you side with the plaintiffs or the defendants, the fact of the matter is that the focus needs to be on returning the Jills to the sidelines. A unified front is needed and placing blame on anyone involved with the suit will do nothing to improve the situation. It's up to the courts to decide whether the lawsuit is frivolous or if Stephanie Mateczun abused her power. The rest of us should be focused on getting the squad reinstated and besides letting the Bills organization know how important it is to us, educating the rest of the public on the merits of pro cheerleaders so that they can't claim ignorance as an excuse not to support our efforts.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Bandette of The Week Mandy

This week, we finish up our look at the 2015 Buffalo Bandettes squad by featuring 2nd year vet Mandy as our Bandette of The Week. Mandy's one who isn't willing to wait to be handed things in life, instead choosing to go after what she wants through hard work and dedication. Perhaps the biggest proof of that is the fact that she made captain in only her 2nd season, no small feat for anyone. She's also used that drive to earn degrees in dance and communications and is putting them to good use as a dance teacher and as a fitness instructor. Always smiling, Mandy was noted for a high level of enthusiasm her rookie season, something that hasn't changed in her 2nd year. One thing that has changed is her comfort level, though. Early in her rookie season, she was actually a little on the shy side, being 1 of only 2 rookies on the squad. Now that she's not only a vet, but a captain, she's a fearless leader who sets high standards for herself and the people around her. You can read more about Mandy at  Mandy's secondary photo comes from the Home Opener against Edmonton. Members of Mandy's line were greeting fans as they came up the west bank of escalators. Posing for this photo are Jennifer, MaKenzie, Mandy, Brittany, Melanie, and Chrissy.
Jennifer, MaKenzie, Mandy, Brittany, Melanie, and Chrissy

From the Jills comes a photo from the 2005 squad. My season tickets are in the tunnel endzone and I can occasionally get some outstanding shots like this one. Shown cheering on the Bills from the endzone area are Katie K and Nicole P.
Katie K and Nicole P

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bandette of The Week Stephanie

This week, we take a look at 4th year vet Stephanie as our Buffalo Bandette of The Week. A co-captain this season, she's not the type of gal to rest on past accomplishments, though she's still extremely, and justifiably, proud of the NLL  Girl of the Year award she won her rookie season. Now, in addition to her role on the Bandettes and working towards becoming every student's favorite history teacher, she's dabbling in the modeling world with 26Shirts, helping raise money for families in need. She's a perfect choice for the job because even her mother has a hard time saying no to that face. She's more than her looks though as she's about as genuine and down-to-earth as can be and easy to get along with. She says her biggest strength is her sense of humor but her sense of responsibility is up there as well. She's great at taking care of her younger siblings and is now showing her mettle as a leader on the Bandettes, something she was perhaps groomed for as she spent her formative years learning dance and cheerleading from Bandettes alums Meghan and Beth, respectively. You can read more about Stephanie at Stephanie''s secondary photo comes from last week's game against the Blackwolves. Before the game, the Bandettes were stationed along the concourse signing their posters for the fans. Shown smiling for a photo are Stephanie, MaKenzie, and Abby.
Stephanie, MaKenzie, and Abby
From the Jills comes a photo from the 2008 squad. SoHo Bar was the spot to be on a late September evening as the Jills held a fundraiser to help raise funds for their 2009 Calendar trip. Pizzas and wings were donated to the cause along with plenty to drink. Out front to greet fans as they came in are Lisa, Anna, Ali, and Katherine.
Lisa, Anna, Ali,, and Katherine

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Bandettes at the Bandits-Blackwolves game

After having last week off, the Bandits came into their matchup with New England at 7-6, hoping to go to 2 games above .500 for the 1st time all season. Unfortunately, the time off showed as passing was out of sync most all game long as the visiting Blackwolves kept the Bandits at bay most of the night, never allowing the Bandits to take the lead and utilizing a stifling defense to take advantage of the Bandits' miscues. With a 12-8 deficit with 8 minutes left in the game, the Bandits started connecting on passes more as well as some goals, enough to bring them to within 1. Unfortunately, it was too little too late and the Blackwolves were able to clamp down on the Bandits offense enough to maintain their lead and went home to Connecticut with a 12-11 win.
While the Bandits struggled, the NLL's premier dance team excelled even short 3 girls with Mandy, Janelle, and LaToya not in attendance. MaKenzie stepped up and helped Chrissy in running Mandy's line and the Bandettes never missed a beat. When we got to the game, we were greeted by Brittany and reigning Bandette of The Week Syidah, who were selling programs to the fans coming in the gates.
Reigning Bandette of The Week Syidah
After getting photos of those two beauties, it was up to the 100 level where the rest of the squad was stationed to sign their posters which, if you haven't heard, are pretty exceptional this season with the girls grouped by line on the posters. While waiting for the line to die down so I could grab a few photos, I caught up with Erin a bit, who was really looking forward to the 80s Night songs the girls would be dancing to all evening. While there, we even got a visit from Bandettes alum and 26Shirts model Ashley who was even showing off the Tavares shirt that she, Stephanie, Lauren, and Mandy modeled for the advertisements.
Cheri, Chrissy, and Lauren
Erin and Ashley
MaKenzie and Stephanie
After things got going, the Bandettes got into the spirit of 80s night as they spent half the game in 80s-themed workout gear, almost like in the video for the 1981 song "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John. MaKenzie stepped up in Mandy's absence, calling cadence in the 2nd quarter, keeping things running smoothly and showing she's more than just a beautiful dancer.
Syidah, Abby, and Stephanie in action
Brittany, MaKenzie, and Melanie

Finishing up spelling out Bandits during 3rd intermission
After their 3rd intermission performance, in which they spelled out Bandits with their pom-poms, always a crowd pleaser, the full squad spent the 4th quarter performing in the tunnel with Chrissy calling out cadence for the 1st half and Stephanie taking it for the 2nd half. When Stephanie was calling cadence, with Cheri to her left and my immediate right, I made sure to get a pic of Cheri cheering on a goal. Her 1st two seasons on the squad, she was always in position to get on camera cheering on a goal, and with her beauty, I know everyone loves seeing those pics.
Cheri cheering on a goal
Syidah, Stephanie, and Lauren
Brittany, Abby, and Chrissy
Late in the game, a little girl of about 4 or 5 years was sitting behind us and got the girls' attention for a photo. The Bandettes were more than happy to pose for her, bringing a huge smile to her face. Beyond the dancing and cheering on the team, making a positive impression on the younger generation like that is what it's all about. I'd wager that little girl will remember that moment for far longer than she will her Easter bunny visit.
posing for a photo for a little girl...she's probably still more excited about this than what the Easter Bunny brought her

See all the pics at
Up next for the Bandits, they're heading to Minnesota next Saturday night to swat the Swarm a 3rd time this season before taking a week off. They'll then be back at First Niagara Center with the beautiful Bandettes to play host to the Vancouver Stealth on Fight Cancer Night on April 25th.
As a little added bonus this week, a buddy came along with me to the game and took several photos of the game and the Bandettes....we'll be sharing some of those Bandettes pics over the next few weeks on our Facebook page at

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bandette of The Week Syidah

This week, we take a look at the beautiful Syidah as our Buffalo Bandette of The Week. Dancing on Lauren's line on gamedays, she always seems to have a smile on her face. She's been dancing for many years and was excited to make the Bandettes and take her dance career to the professional level. A big part of what attracted her to the squad is how excited the fans are when they're performing on the field, something she saw partly from our videos. Since joining the Bandettes, one of the things she's enjoyed the most is learning new dances on an almost weekly basis because she loves learning new things. Syidah's secondary photo comes from the home game against the Toronto Rock. The Bandettes were signing their new posters for the fans coming in the gates. Shown clustered together for a photo are Syidah, Janelle, and Mandy.
Syidah, Janelle, and Mandy
From the Jills comes a photo from 2011 Bills training camp. The Jills have typically made an appearance at camp the 1st Saturday as well as a few other select dates. On this day a quartet of the girls were on hand greeting fans in the merchandise tent. Shown posing for a photo are Christina, Jami, Omarlla, and Gina. After their shift was done, Christina and Omarlla switched into civilian attire to take in the rest of practice themselves. For Christina, this was a regular occurrence but this was Omarlla's 1st time getting to do this since she'd been on the squad since 2000. The last time she had been able to watch practice as a fan was back in 1999, when camp was in Fredonia.
Christina, Jami, Omarlla, and Gina