It's amazing how far a nickname can go.
When Flight Crew member Gina G. was just 2 years old, her mother gave her an adorably rhythmic identity that would, in time, influence the rest of her life.
"My mother used to call me 'Gina Ballerina' because I used to always walk around on my tippytoes," she explained. "So she put me into dance classes and from there it just escalated into competitions and then auditioning for dance jobs and now I'm here with the Jets."
The tale of "Gina Ballerina" from Kings Park, N.Y., to Gina G, member of the inaugural New York Jets Flight Crew, isn't quite that simple.
The full-time St. Joseph's student has a prolific résumé, including working as a dance instructor at Encore Dance Academy in Kings Park for five years as well as working with the Handicapped Services of Suffolk County.
"I definitely enjoy helping people," she said of her job with Handicapped Services. "I basically help out anyway I can. It feels great helping them out because I know a lot of people around me that have handicaps so it feels good to help them."
Gina also has some serious braggin' rights. In fact, only the elite players of the NFL can identify with an experience that she went through.
In 2000 she was one of just a few performers handpicked from a dance competition to perform at the NFL's annual Pro Bowl game in Hawaii.
"It was definitely interesting but I was young at the time so it was kind of difficult to take everything in," Gina recalled. "It was definitely a great experience and I would love to do it again if I ever could. It was definitely an honor and it gave me the confidence to take my dancing to the next level."
Gina has yet to return to the annual all star event, but she's on the right track. In 2006 she was a member of the Flight Crew's predecessor, the Jets Flag Girls, making her one of just four from that group on this squad.
"It's a huge sense of accomplishment, becoming a part of the NFL. It's something I have always wanted to do," she told newyorkjets.com. "As a kid growing up I always idolized the girls that were a part of the NFL and everything that they do."
While last year's experience was memorable, Gina claims it is incomparable to this season's Flight Crew, crediting choreographer Denise Garvey and her teammates for such an amazing transition.
"She helps us with everything, as opposed to last year, when we were kind of all by ourselves. It's a lot more organized and we're brought together through her," Gina said of the former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. "She's an asset to the team. She's always there for us. She's always encouraging us to do better and is truly the greatest part of this team. She holds us together."
Prior to her first year with the Jets, Gina made a name for herself in the biz while performing across the street from Jets HQ at Nassau Veterans Coliseum. There, she was a New York Dragons Fire Dancer for three years and served as captain last season.
"It was a great experience that has led me into a lot of other things," she said. "I also learned a lot and gained confidence over there."
Working with the Dragons led her to a position with the New York Islanders, who call the Coliseum their home as well. Gina performed at special events off of the ice, although not with the Islanders' popular "Ice Girls."
Before she knew it, she was dancing for professional teams practically year-round. But that's just how Gina likes it.
"I consider myself very dedicated when it comes to being on a team," explained the brunette sparkplug. "I always put the team and the rest of the girls ahead of anything else that's going on.
"It gets to be a lot, though," she added. "With all of my homework, the practices and promotions and routines, it gets to be a lot. But it's worth it, without a doubt."
Another tough aspect for Gina is the celebrated flag-carrying duties. While it looks simple, ask any kicker or quarterback who has played in the gusty confines of the Meadowlands and they'll agree the wind can play havoc with any role on the field.
"Carrying the flag is definitely hard!" she said. "There have been times where I have literally almost fallen over because of the flag catching the wind. Being a petite girl, it's difficult carrying the flag, but you have to keep going no matter what."
For Gina, to "keep going" appears to come with ease. That's exactly what she's been doing since her tippytoe days in Kings Park.