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.

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