NATALIE: This Sunshine Girl Reflects on 2013


One of my favorite parts of being a Jets Flight Crew Cheerleader this season, other than our passionate fans, was being the squad's Sunshine Girl! This season, Donna Marie and I had the honor of holding this position. Just as all 33 Flight Crew Cheerleaders bring excitement and spirit to all 10 home games, we did the same for our squad off of the field.

The title came with a big responsibility — we baked for every Flight Crew Cheerleader's birthday and did special things for our teammates throughout the season.

My experience as Sunshine Girl is one I will cherish forever. After I applied for the position through our Director, Denise Garvey, I waited to find out if I was selected. Donna and I compiled a list of the Flight Crew birthdays along with their favorite treats. We also kept an eye out for special events in any of our teammates' lives.

Behind the scenes as a Flight Crew Cheerleader, there are traditions that we have. This year, we started a new tradition for the Sunshine Girls. Just like a spirit stick, we passed one set of gold poms at the beginning of every week. One new cheerleader got to rehearse with the gold poms until it was time to award them to another cheerleader the following Monday. The "passing of the poms" gave us something to look forward to.

As for baking, I was a little nervous that my baking skills were a little rusty. Donna and I made sure to make every birthday special and unique to each individual Flight Crew Cheerleader. I would bake the morning of each birthday and would have the supplies ready the night before. My favorite things to make were:

■ Cake balls

■ Chocolate-covered strawberries

■ Chocolate-covered pretzels

■ Mini cupcakes

At the end of rehearsal, we would surprise the birthday girl with her treats! It really brought the whole team closer and gave us something to look forward to.

Being Sunshine Girl enabled me to be a positive influence and showed me that I could actually bake for 33 women! As the season progressed, I began experimenting and baking became second nature to me.

Donna and I also held a holiday baking day. We invited the Jets Flight Crew Cheerleaders to join us to bake treats for the staff at our Dec. 8 game against Oakland. Maybe our holiday was contagious because we won that game, 37-27!

Being Sunshine Girl taught me to be a positive person no matter what and reminded me that making others happy makes you happy! As Walt Whitman said, "Keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you."


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