Although Amanda, this week’s Gameday Girl, was born and raised 3,000 miles away in the San Francisco suburbs, she always thought she’d end up in New York.
“When I was little, I used to come to New York for a week or even a month at a time to take dance classes and train here,” she said. “My parents would take me to Broadway shows. We’d go see the Rockettes. I loved the city and I knew from a very young age that this was where I needed to be.”
So when it came time to find the college that was right for her, she had her eyes on Hofstra University, home for the Green & White prior to the team’s move to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, NJ, in 2008.
“The first time I went to visit was during training camp,” Amanda recalled. “My dad made me take a picture in front of a green New York Jets sign. Little did I know, a little over a year later, I’d be cheering for them. I look at that picture all the time.”
Receiving a tuition scholarship made her decision a no-brainer, so she ended up moving to the East Coast and enrolling at Hofstra.
Amanda had always been a dancer. In fact, at 13 years old, she traveled to Italy for the tap-dancing world championship.
And she won.
“I was competing against people in their 20s and I became the youngest person ever to win,” she said. “I definitely didn’t realize how big of a deal that accomplishment was at the time.”
She’d grown up a sports fan as well, and football was her favorite sport, too, since her family had Oakland Raiders season tickets.
After hearing that one of her former dance club teammates had been selected for the Jets Flight Crew and loved it, Amanda became interested in following suit.
“I had never cheered in my life,” she said, “but when I searched for their videos online and saw that the cheerleaders were really great dancers, I was intrigued.”
She combined her dance talent with her love of football. And now in her fifth year with the Flight Crew, Amanda couldn’t be happier.
For the past two years, she’s been one of the team’s four group leaders. She’s responsible for calling the shots for the eight or nine cheerleaders in her corner of the end zone on gamedays, among other responsibilities.
“It’s a huge honor,” she said of director Denise Garvey’s decision to make her a group leader. “I absolutely love it and get chills even talking about it. You learn a lot from being on the team for so long, but being a group leader, you learn so much more.”
In addition, Amanda has taken on another role for the Flight Crew. She’s the team’s DJ.
“It kind of just happened,” she explained. “We needed music and I volunteered for it. That kind of started it almost three years ago now. It’s something that I really love doing. Standing in MetLife Stadium with 80,000 people around and hearing music play that I had in my head at my apartment, it’s a really cool experience.”
Since joining the Flight Crew, Amanda has continued tap dancing, teaching classes throughout the country during the offseason.
But some things simply had to change once Amanda joined the team. Fortunately, things changed for the better.
“My parents are now focused solely on the Jets,” she said.
They no longer own Raiders season tickets, she added. They attend quite a few Jets games each year, and all things silver and black have been replaced by green and white.