Your 2016 Buffalo Bandettes!

Your 2016 Buffalo Bandettes!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Bandettes at the Bandits-Stealth Game

Coming off a bye after the win over Rochester 2 weeks ago, it was hard to say if the Bandits would be rusty or rested going into Friday night's game against Vancouver. They won against the Stealth 3 weeks ago at the Langley Events Centre but that was then and the Bandits were without the services of their captain, Billy Dee Smith, for a 2nd straight game due to a nagging injury. Both teams started out struggling on offense and the score remained 3-2 Buffalo until there were less than 5 minutes left in the 1st half. Carrying a 5-2 lead going into the 2nd half, the Bandits picked up the pace with the Stealth finding their scoring touch as well. Thankfully for Buffalo though, Vancouver doesn't have Dhane Smith who, in the midst of a possible record-setting season, poured in 6 goals and 12 overall points as the Bandits sent the Stealth back home losers with a final score of 17-10.
The Bandettes didn't suffer a slow start but they did have 1 noteworthy happening. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for pro cheerleading/dance squads to lose members during the season though it's rather rare with the Bandettes. It is, however, exceedingly rare that a girl will learn several weeks beforehand that they'd have to leave the squad. Sarah, a rookie on the squad this year, got a job offer almost a month ago that she just couldn't turn down. Over the last month, she's been getting prepared to make a big move away from Buffalo but still has been able to continue being a strong contributor to the Buffalo Bandettes squad. Besides being able to continue as a Bandette before leaving, Sarah has gotten something extra. Her squadmates have rallied around her  to ensure that her last month as a Bandette was a special one to show her that although they're happy for her getting a dream job, they'll also miss having her on the squad. This is my 11th season covering the Bandettes and as close-knit as the squad has always been in that time, I have to admit this has been pretty special and awe-inspiring to see.
Jessica and Sarah
The gorgeous MaKenzie, Mandy, and Janelle
When I got to the arena, I was greeted by Rachel and Deanna. Rachel has seemed to grow a lot since the start of the season and Deanna was almost disappointed the game was on a Friday, not for work but because her Bandette of The Week feature went live while she was busy getting ready for the game so she had to wait a little longer to see it. Hopefully she found it to be worth the wait. I headed upstairs next and came across the rest of Stephanie's line at the top of the east bank of escalators and normally, I head directly over to the captains but with it being Sarah's last game, I visited with her and Jessica first. All season long, Jessica has been grabbing squadmates to pose for photos before and during the game so of course she was sure to get some with her pal Sarah. It wasn't very busy on that end of the arena so after we grabbed a few more photos, we all went over to the other end of the escalator bank where Mandy's line was holding court right neat to a dance party run by DJ Milk. The crowd got especially lively when he played "Watch Me," a popular tune these days that gets a lot of play at Bandits games after Dhane Smith scores his goals.
squad posing with a fan
Tirzah checking out the stands
ready to perform
Eventually, it was time for the Bandettes to head down to their locker room and for me to catch up with a buddy and head down to our seats. When the Bandettes came out, they weren't alone as Erin Y was on hand for this game as well. Erin's been a part of Bandits games either as a Bandette or a Bandettes coach for 13 years but work and life have kept her from being able to be around as much this season and even had to miss the Tavares Night game. She wasn't going to miss tonight though as she would've hated missing Sarah's last game.
Deanna and Karley

A month and a half ago, during the Jr Bandettes game, a little girl was seated on the other side of the Bandettes and she was just glued to watching them all night long. Last night, it was a little boy who was just smitten with watching the Bandettes in action and he seemed especially taken with Mandy, for whom the feeling was mutual....I've said it many times and I'll continue to say it...that's what having pro cheerleaders/dancers is mostly about...having an impact on the children.
Mandy with a little fan
squad photo grouped around Sarah
Sarah and Erin
Before the Bandettes came out at halftime, I got a visit from a fan from a few sections over. He wanted to get some information. One of the most popular things the Bandettes do is spell out BANDITS with their poms at the end of one of their performances. It never fails to get a big response from the crowd and it requires plenty of practice to get everyone in sync and it's something they regard as being pretty special to do. This fan wanted to know if they'd be doing that again anytime soon and, as luck would have it, I already knew thanks to Deanna and Stephanie that they'd be doing that for 3rd intermission. I have to think that fan cheered louder than anyone when they did it.
Making the "T" in Bandits
one last best friends pic for Sarah and Jessica
Sarah is savoring every last moment
who doesn't love Karley's enthusiasm?
I have to confess...I love having the beautiful MaKenzie dancing right next to me
See all the pics at
After games, I'm usually heading straight out but I hung back a little bit last night because I wanted to say goodbye to Sarah and I got a bonus as Bandettes alum Chelsea was on hand...though I think she thought I was joking when I suggested she come back to fill Sarah's slot in the lineup.
Next up for the Bandettes, after the Bandits head to Georgia next week, they'll be back in action as the Knighthawks return to Buffalo on April 2 at 7:30pm at the First Niagara Center, back to Saturday night games.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bandette of The Week Deanna

This week, the lovely Deanna graces us with her beauty as the Buffalo Bandette of The Week. Deanna has that girl next door vibe about her and is about as friendly and easy to talk to as they come. She's been dancing since she was 6 and part of that was something that set her up to join the Bandettes...she started off as a Junior Bandette. She and her family have been long-time season ticket holders and after her experiences as a Jr Bandette and watching the squad perform, she talked about joining for years. Now that she has, she's one of the younger girls on the team and is enjoying the friendships she's building with the older girls and getting to learn from their life experiences and apply them to her own life. Some girls join a pro cheerleading/dance squad just to experience it and retire after a single season...though that happens very little with the Bandettes. Deanna is hoping to keep doing it for a few years while getting through college with her chemistry degree. As much as she's enjoyed going to games with her family over the years, nothing quite matches gamedays since she's been on the NLL's premier dance team! Deanna's secondary photo comes from the Opener back in January and was taken just before the girls headed out to perform at 3rd intermission. Shown posing for the camera are Deanna and Jessica.
Deanna and Jessica

From the Jills comes a photo from the 2012 Open Workshop held at the Bills Fieldhouse. While most of the ladies were warming up and getting stretched, a few posed for photos, including this one of the dance co-captains. Shown here are Lisa, Emily, and Loren.
Lisa, Emily, and Loren

Friday, March 18, 2016

Bandette of The Week Jackie

This week, our Bandette of The Week feature introduces you to Jackie. A rookie dancing on Mandy's line, the 1st thing you notice about her is her height, this blonde-haired, blue eyed gal is the tallest on the squad. Jackie had to wait just a bit longer than the rest of her squadmates to perform for the fans as she had a job interview the day of the Open Practice but finished up in time to see them perform. She's looking to advance in her job now and put her degree to good use as a physician's assistant. Dance has been a big part of her life for a long time and once even got to dance at the Orange Bowl with her high school dance team. Since graduating last spring, she had really gotten to miss dancing with a team and when she saw the chance to join the NLL's premier dance team, she went for it. Since doing so, she's had nothing but good experiences with the close-knit community the Bandettes are and loves getting to perform with them. She's also a big fan of the Jr Bandette program and loves getting to interact with the next generation of Bandettes.
One thing that's been trending of late is the heightened interest in superheroes on TV and in the movies with a couple dozen movies in theaters this year alone. One of the most successful of those movie franchises was the Dark Knight trilogy starring Christian Bale and it just so happens that Jackie was a huge fan of that trilogy. A tall blue-eyed athletic blond beauty isn't your typical comic book fan so if you think a guy could really hit the jackpot with a girl like that, you'd be right...and a bit too late since her guy popped the Rome.
Jackie's secondary photo comes from the Home Opener against Calgary. After a late Bandits goal, members of Mandy's line  are shown cheering on Dhane Smith's game-winning goal. Shown from left to right are Amanda, Jackie, and Rachel.
Amanda, Jackie, and Rachel

From the Jills comes a photo from the 2007 Jills Open Workshop, an event that we should be seeing now if not for Stejon Productions' decision to shut down operations. Shown posing for the camera are a pair of beauties who were about to embark on their 3rd season together, Brianne and Amanda P.
Brianne and Amanda P

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Bandettes at Tavares Night vs the Knighthawks

In October of 1991, as the Buffalo Bandits were preparing to start their first season in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League, they made a trade with the Detroit Turbos to acquire forward John Tavares. Tavares spent 24 seasons playing with the Bandits, garnering several MVP awards and setting records along the way. In September, John Tavares announced his retirement from the Buffalo Bandits and the NLL. Friday night, in front of over 18,000 fans in Banditland, the Bandits hung the #11 to the rafters and retired the number of the greatest player to ever play indoor lacrosse.
Going into Friday night's game, the Bandits were tied for the lead with New England in the Eastern Division and hosting their Thruway rivals, the Rochester Knighthawks. As is typical in a Bandits-Knighthawks matchup, the game never got out of hand for either side but other than a stretch of 22 seconds late in the third, Buffalo never trailed and sent their rivals back down the thruway after beating them by a final score of 13-10.
MaKenzie, Jessica, Janelle, Karley, and Stephanie
Jennifer and Syidah
Amanda, Tirzah, Sarah, Jackie, and Rachel pose with a future Bandette
When I got to the arena and through the gates, I was greeted by 5 of the Bandettes, led by Stephanie, who were handing out some literature commemorating the career of the legendary John Tavares. After catching up with the longest-tenured vet on the squad after she appeared on the news that morning, I grabbed a photo of her and her group before heading up to the top of the west bank of escalators to see another group of 5 Bandettes, led by Mandy. They were keeping pretty busy signing and handing out their posters and posing for photos with fans and after a few quick photos, it was off to the other side of the concourse. When I got there, the remainder of the squad was there with 4 rookies and Amanda, who was holding a little mini-reunion with Alicia, who she shared time with as a Bandette in 2013. I got a chance to talk to a few of the ladies about their Bandette of the Week features and the few that remain to be featured seem to be really excited to get their turn especially considering how much their squadmates have loved theirs.
Bandettes co-captains  Janelle and MaKenzie
Karley, Rachel, and Sarah in pregame
Tavares giving his speech
As the Bandettes headed downstairs to get ready, it was time to head to my seats to get ready for the game and to take lots more photos. Before the game itself started, the Bandits held their ceremony honoring Tavares and when he gave his speech thanking all those who had helped him along his career, he made sure to thank the Bandettes. In a world in which pro athletes make headlines for the wrong reasons all too often, it's great to see some greats who truly get it. Despite the well-deserved accolades about his accomplishments, Tavares has always remained humble and gracious towards everyone he's worked with, whether it be teammates, coaches, front office people, or the beautiful women who work as ambassadors for the organization through appearances and their dancing. Last season, with the new 716 Food and Sport opened up, the Bandits moved their post-game parties there but as packed as it always is, the Bandettes were kind  of squeezed out and remained at Cobblestone Bar where postgames had been held since 2012. Last season, I stopped by for a postgame at Cobblestone the night that the Bandettes alums joined the squad. and in addition to all the alums who were there, Tavares himself was there as well.
Reigning Bandette  of The Week Karley clearly enjoying the game
Syidah, Amanda, Jackie, and Rachel in action
someone just fell in love....and when you receive such an incredible smile from Mandy, who can blame him?
the stunning Tirzah
After the ceremony, it was pretty much business as usual as while I was watching the game, my peripheral vision kept me alerted for photo ops for the NLL's premier dance squad.
line shot! Sarah, MaKenzie, Jennifer, Stephanie, Jessica, Karley, and Deanna
ready to head out for 3rd intermission
the beautiful Janelle
the statuesque Jackie 
See all the photos at

After the game, I got a chance to catch up with Stephanie and Sarah on the way out before they enjoyed their post-game get-together. Next up, the Bandits have a week off and they and the Bandettes are back in action when the Vancouver Stealth come to town hoping to get revenge for the loss vs Buffalo at the Langley Events Centre a week ago. Faceoff is at 7:30 on March 25, another Friday night game at the First Niagara Center.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Bandette of The Week Karley

This week, our Bandette of The Week is the adorable Karley. Dancing on Stephanie's line on gamedays, Karley's enthusiasm for being a Bandette seems to be hard to top. I first got a chance to talk to her one-on-one briefly after the Open Practice when she was unable to perform. When the Opener rolled around, she couldn't be more excited and she looked ready to burst during pregame. Truth be told, she reminds me of Jills alum Jess L (2007-10)  in regards to her enthusiastic approach to performing. She just loves being on the field and performing in front of the crazy and devoted fans in Banditland and nothing gets her through life more than getting to dance. When she's not dancing or hanging out with the squadmates she's loved getting to know these past few months, she's an outdoorsy type of girl and it doesn't matter what time of year it is. The last few months, she's been out on her snowmobile but with the weather warming up, she's ready to jump in the truck and go find a nice spot to catch some fish. In the future, she's planning on finishing school and visiting Ireland one day, where her ancestors came from. Karley's secondary photo is from the recent home game against the Georgia Swarm. Prior to the game, the Bandettes signed their new posters for the fans. When there was a lull in the line, I grabbed a few photos, including this one of Amanda, Rachel, and Karley.
Amanda, Rachel, and Karley

From the Jills comes a photo from the 2007 Jills Open Workshop. One of the fun things about the Open Workshop is the reunions. In this case, the Jills' original 3 Musketeers joined together for a photo. Shown posing are Jessica Z, Kaitlin B, and Valerie. 2007 ended up being JZ's and Kaitlin's final seasons but Val went on to become a captain and a Pro Bowler before retiring after the 2012 season.
Jessica, Kaitlin, and Valerie

Friday, March 4, 2016

Bandette of The Week Amanda

This week, returning alum Amanda C takes the spotlight as our Buffalo Bandette of The Week. After spending a portion of the 2013 season as a Bandettes Ambassador, she returned to the squad with renewed focus and dancing up a storm on Mandy's line. Getting to dance again was what drove her to return to the squad and while she appreciated the opportunities she got by being an Ambassador, dancing was always her goal. She has been dancing since the age of 4, after all. This season, she's been loving being back on the squad with how crazy the games have been and her squadmates, only 2 of whom, Stephanie and MaKenzie, were on the squad with her in 2013. When she's not dancing, she's looking to finish her education and do a bit of Spain perhaps. Obviously that travel would have to be during the summer with Bandettes in the spring and Bills games in the fall. Yes, she's a big Bills fan as well, something which I would say runs in the family as I've known her uncle for years through Bills games and tailgating. It makes me wonder if she shares his love of cooking since she also shares his love of chicken wings. Amanda's secondary photo is from the game in Toronto a few weeks ago. Prior to the game, the Bandettes joined the Toronto Rock Cheerleaders in greeting fans coming into the game. Shown posing for a photo are Angela, Rachel, Amanda, Janelle, and Jackie.
Angela, Rachel, Amanda, Janelle, and Jackie.
From the Jills comes a photo from a 2009 Away Game party. That season, 103.3 The Edge held away game parties at The Aud Sports Bar in Depew and for the Jets game in October that season, Alyssa and Vincenza were on hand. Here they are trying out the DJ booth.
Alyssa and Vincenza