The National Football League's Pro Bowl voting is ending this week, but the Jets have already been informed that one member of their organization is headed to Honolulu in February.
"It was kind of shocking," said Flight Crew member Linda of her all-star designation. "We didn't know this was happening, and then to find out that I'm going to Hawaii in two months was kind of insane."
The Flight Crew, the 10-member team that carries Jets flags at home games and performs dance routines under the watchful eye of choreographer Denise Garvey, made a lasting impact in its first season.
"The league recognized us as being an official dance team in the NFL and they wanted to invite us to participate at the Pro Bowl in February," Garvey said.
More than happy with the results of all her young ladies, Garvey had a somewhat difficult choice of selecting just one allocation.
"I think Linda all-around is a very good representative for the Flight Crew. Any of the girls on the team would have been an excellent choice," Garvey said. "I sat down with people in the organization and we went through some names out there. It wasn't as easy as you might think because each girl each has different special qualities."
The Jets couldn't go wrong with any member, but Linda just seemed to be a perfect fit.
"She is genuinely a nice person — she's a gem. Personality-wise she's a dream, and I think that's most important," Garvey said. "She's going to be mingling and I think you could put her with many different groups of people and she'll be able to hold her own. She'll be able to have conversations and be an intellectual and yet still have that fun energy. And she's athletic and she can learn choreography quickly."
So before a late November rehearsal, Garvey huddled her group together and an announcement was made.
"Other girls reacted before I did," Linda said. "I didn't even know anything about this, that anyone was going. It was kind of like 'What? Really? Are you sure?' Then it hit me and I was really excited."
It is customary practice to invite a loved one or close friend after receiving a Pro Bowl invitation. Linda, who resides in Massapequa, N.Y., with her family, will have both her parents in the stands at Aloha Stadium.
"They didn't know I could get them tickets to go. They were just in shock also, especially my dad," she said. "This whole thing is just insane to him and now going to the Pro Bowl is a huge deal."
In preparation for her trip, Linda has looked to see what she can expect of the Hawaii weather in February. She also has visited other teams' Web sites and read past Pro Bowl blogs from cheerleaders so she'll have an idea what to expect with practices and charitable events.
"It's going to be a lot different. I'm going to go from a team of 10 girls — bonding and being so close with these girls for months now — to a team of 25 complete different strangers, and they all have their own separate teams," Linda said. "Everyone is going to put their own touch and it's going to be a brand new team."
Her uniform won't be new, though. Linda will display the Jets' green and white for the first time when the Pro Bowl cheerleaders perform and she knows she'll have strong support from nine young ladies back home.
"They're all very excited, as I would be if one of the other girls was chosen. We all really love each other, we're such close friends, and there was no hesitation as to why I got to go," Linda said. "Everyone was really happy that we as a team had someone going for the first time to represent the Jets and to represent the Flight Crew. It's a big deal for the entire team to have someone there and I think everyone was happy."
Garvey has chosen not to assign any homework for her student.
"I've never had the opportunity to go the Pro Bowl, so I'm very curious to hear how amazing her experience is," said Garvey, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. "I think the reporting back will be less about what the other teams are doing and more what her experience is all about."
Linda, who is studying interior design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, has had quite a first season and she'll reap even more rewards in Hawaii.
"I didn't think this was ever going to happen. Just being a part of the Flight Crew was the biggest deal of my life," she said. "Now taking it a step further and getting the chance to represent the Jets — in Hawaii! — is completely out of this world. It's just amazing."