For New York Jets Flight Crew member Nicole, cheerleading has been a part of her life since she was the age of 4. But she never imagined that one day she'd be performing for audiences of 80,000 people on gamedays at MetLife Stadium.
Growing up, cheerleading wasn't the only strong sport interest for Nicole. She also was a standout softball player for close to 10 years. However, once she entered high school she decided to drop softball and shift her entire focus toward cheerleading. The decision has proven to be a wise one.
"Cheerleading was the closest I could get to playing football and my love for the game is what sparked my initial interest," she said.
Now entering her fourth year with the Flight Crew, Nicole — this week's Gameday Girl for Saturday night's preseason home opener against the Giants — has seen her role expand to serving as a group leader. She says it is a blessing to be involved with the Jets franchise.
"Even after four years, I still have the same excitement, passion and appreciation for my spot on this team," she said. "I am so loyal to the Green & White and I take pride in the fact that I have dedicated my life to this organization for this long."
Nicole explained how she and her Flight Crew teammates began preparing for the upcoming season on June 1. Year in and year out, the squad learns over 60 dances throughout the course of a season.
"It is a lot more complicated than it looks," she said, "and for you football fanatics, you can compare it to the team calling plays. Each game has a different game plan, with different dances that require different positions on the field. No, we don't have a defense coming at us as we're executing, but there are last-minute play changes and many obstacles on the field to be aware of at all times."
Nicole said her favorite part about being a cheerleader for an NFL organization "is having season tickets for the best seats in the house!" She cheers each game from the 6-yard line.
While many exciting moments have transpired for her during her time with the team, nothing tops the 2009 "Win And We're In" game against the Bengals. That 37-0 win earned the Jets an AFC Wild Card berth and a game the following weekend at Cincinnati.
"It was the last game in the old stadium, on the coldest day of the year, but the energy kept fans there celebrating long after the game was over," Nicole said. "It was a significant night in New York Jets history, one that I am so fortunate to have been a part of."
After enduring another training camp of their own, Nicole and the Flight Crew are ecstatic about beginning the 2012 season.
"Personally, I can't wait to hit that field Saturday night," she said. "This is what we're in it for, the thrill of New York Jets football. And we are ready to go!"