The New York Jets Flight Crew provided a sneak preview in front of an audience for the first time Tuesday afternoon. About a dozen reporters and a couple of photographers and videographers watched eight of the 10 members of the flag/dance group perform to a pair of songs at Hofstra University.
"I think it went very well," said Linda, an interior design major at the Fashion Institute of Technology. "It is very different than being in the [Jets' practice] bubble, where it's confined and nobody is there to having reporters and people looking at us. We love to perform, so this is what we do best. It's fun."
The two-song set began with a flag routine accompanied by Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" on the loudspeakers. The young women, adorned in warmup outfits composed of mint-colored tops and Jets Green pants with mint stripes, ran out of the end zone to near midfield before returning to the other end and swinging the flags.
"They will be involved from the very beginning of the game — player introductions all the way through the very end of the game," said Denise Garvey, the Flight Crew's choreographer. "They are running the flags for touchdowns, field goals, player introductions, things like that. So they are really part of the whole gameday experience."
A Jets-themed song was the second number and that's the piece the young women danced to. When asked if the Jets were trying to avoid a cheerleader label, Garvey talked about the distinctiveness of her group.
"We are not trying to stay away from that, but we are really excited about the unique idea that we have, which is a flag crew. And the idea that they are running flags throughout the course of the game is really an integral part of what they do, so that's why we are proud to call them a flag crew," she said. "They do choreographed sequences on the sideline, but that's only one part of what they do. I think the flags are what set them apart."
Garvey, who was hired in March, held a closed audition in June and made the selections shortly thereafter. The 10 members have had their noses to the grindstone since.
"We have been practicing three times a week: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. It's been a lot of work," Linda said. "We have been running laps, doing pushups, doing crunches, learning the new routines. There has been a lot of memorizing. There is a lot of stuff to learn, but we learn it as a group and we look pretty good together. We're a good team and everyone really likes each other."
The Flight Crew will be part of the gameday festivities Friday night when the Jets host the Atlanta Falcons at the Meadowlands in the preseason opener for both clubs. Linda and her teammates will debut their snazzy uniforms when the regular season kicks off against the New England Patriots on Sept. 9.
"It's very exciting," Linda said. "I'm a bit nervous, but I love performing in front of large crowds. The adrenaline is pumping and it will be a really great game, so I'm excited."