A decade ago they were called "Jets Flag Girls" and used rally towels in place of pom-poms.
In short order they became the New York Jets Flight Crew Cheerleaders. Each year they added a little more glitz and polish, and they grew in numbers and influence. Suddenly they were appearing all around the New York area and island-hopping the Caribbean for swimsuit calendar shoots.
All the while their performances caught more eyes and captured more hearts during Jets games.
Fans can experience the glorious past and glamorous present of the Jets Flight Crew this Saturday night with "Celebrating 10 Years of the New York Jets Flight Crew Special." The 30-minute show airs on New York's CBS 2 at 11:35 p.m.
"Starting small and building has been an adventure day by day and season by season," said Denise Garvey, the director of New York's only pro sports cheerleading squad and the only director the Flight Crew has had since its inception. "And through each year, to work hard on something that you really believe in and are passionate about is truly exciting."
All this year, Garvey and the Flight Crew have been celebrating their milestone season together. A thrilling event still ahead will be a performance at halftime of the late afternoon game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Nov. 27, that will bring together more than 100 current and former squad members. These young women all have strong emotions and fond memories of what it means to be called a Flight Crew Cheerleader.
Catch the Jets Flight Crew 10-Year Anniversary Special on CBS 2 Saturday at 11:35 p.m.
"Stepping onto the field for the first time was absolutely an amazing experience that I will never forget," said Ashley S., a Crew member since 2013. "Every time we head out of that tunnel my heart stops!"
"Being a part of the Flight Crew is like belonging to a true sisterhood of traditions," said Nancy M, in her fifth season on the squad. "It's an honor to carry the legacy that was created by our alumni. I love the bond the team has and all the strong friendships I've made over the seasons."
Linda, whose last Flight Crew season was 2011, recalled she had been going to Jets games for many years growing up. "Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would one day be down on the field cheering for my team every home game for five seasons," she said.
And Laura V., a seven-year veteran through 2013, recalled: "From the first day of tryouts in 2007, I knew this was going to be a special and exciting experience. I didn't know what to expect but I soon learned what was needed to achieve the level of success I was hoping for. Denise Garvey was invaluable in instilling the discipline, confidence and coaching to help me climb that ladder."
Garvey spent time as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and a Knicks City Dancer, "life-defining years for me," she said. And she has passed on her passion and her sense of the squad's history each year, right through to this year's edition, of which she says, "I think all the other squads will be proud that this is the 10-year squad."
As for visually capturing the essence of the Flight Crew's journey, Garvey said there was only one place to go for one of this year's special events, a photo shoot that produced the stunning pullout poster in the 2016 New York Jets Yearbook printed right before the start of training camp.
"Bringing the 2016 photo shoot back to New York City just felt right," she said. "Scouting these city street locations and choosing places that were familiar to Jets fans made incorporating the spirit of the city into the photo natural for our anniversary shoot.
"This is the New York that Jets fans know. The gritty, the real — the juxtaposition of the city streets with these beautiful women captures our spirit perfectly."