Flight Crew Member Ryann at Pro Bowl 2009
A week in Hawaii sounds like fun. But it can be hard work as well.
I'm not talking about myself. Sure, I'm hiking 30 miles from Honolulu to Kapolei and Ko Olina and back every day to bring you some inspirational stories of the half-dozen Jets participating in Sunday's Pro Bowl.
But that's nothing compared to the schedule for Ryann of the Jets' Flight Crew as she and 25 other NFL cheerleaders prepare to perform at the final game of the 2008 season.
"We got here Monday around 4 o'clock," Ryann said when our timetables finally coincided late this morning. "All the girls got together to get to know each other a little bit. Tuesday was our first rehearsal. It was a nine-hour rehearsal that was definitely intense. We worked out and learned all the routines.
"Everything changes on a day-to-day basis. Yesterday we visited a military base and some of the other girls made hospital visits."
How about tonight and Saturday, the day before the game? Any down time there?
"Tonight we perform at 'Sunset on the Beach'," she said of a Pro Bowl activity put on by the Waikiki Improvement Association and the city and county of Honolulu. "On Saturday night we're performing at the Pro Bowl All-Star Block Party in Waikiki."
But Ryann's not complaining. She, like all the Flight Crew members I've met and no doubt all of the similar outfits around the NFL, seem to thrive on the blend of practice, dance, performance and service. They are truly outstanding young women.
"Actually, I'm having a lot of fun," she said. "Honestly, it's so amazing how well we all have gotten along. We came from all over the U.S. here and after one or two days, we're already a team, like we've been a team for years. And it's just great to meet people from all over the world."
Ryann has had some spare moments. This morning she and some of her teammates got out onto the Oahu beach. Her mom and uncle flew in Thursday, as did some cousins from Las Vegas. And she won't be leaving the Islands late next week.
But before next week comes Sunday. The Pro Bowl is an important stage for the state of Hawaii, and it's a national stage with the game being shown on NBC. Yet Ryann is handling the buildup to the big day just like she and all the Flight Crew members handled buildups to Sundays at the Meadowlands.
"I don't believe I'll be nervous-nervous," she said. "I think we all have nerves before we go out and perform, but it's more out of excitement. There will be energy pumping through our veins, and it's an honor to be here and a wonderful experience."