Cayman is arguably the most beautiful place in the world.
But even the white sands, clear azure seas and year-round sunshine can be improved.
How? Add cheerleaders, of course.
That would be the New York Jets’ Flight Crew, who came to Cayman recently to shoot their 2014 calendar. Needless to say, the girls were mostly excited about meeting Weekender, so we did our best to make that dream come true.
“We had our calendar shoot at different locations,” explains Natalie N. (the ladies only use the first letter of their surnames for security reasons.)
“We have been having an amazing time and had extravagant excursions which is a great plus. We are very blessed to be here.”
Shoots took place in a number of locations including Little Cayman, the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and of course the beautiful waterscape that makes the Cayman Islands world-famous. There was even time for a Jet Pack session – scary, but fun, apparently.
It’s clear the girls loved their time in Cayman, even if their schedules were pretty much work, work and more work.
“The park is 65 acres of wonderful tropical, beautiful land,” offers Roselinda G.
“I had a lot of colourful leaves behind my shoot, it was such an amazing experience. We met the Blue Iguanas and also met the Rock Iguanas on Little Cayman.”
The Flight Crew also added a New York sign to the post up at Rum Point. Danielle S. says that she has taken care to process the surroundings and enjoy the experience as much as possible.
“We took a moment when we were paddleboarding to just enjoy the scenery, to take in the water and the blue sky. It will take a while to process but when we are back in New York it will sink in that we had such an awesome time.”
Cheerleading, Roselinda says, was a natural next step as she is a dancer.
“I feel like all activities like dance, cheerleading, performing – it takes a long time and a lot of dedication. You have to work hard and keep the standards up.
“Every year we re-audition to keep your spot. In the post-season you just reflect on an awesome season and just want to be out there again. You train, work hard and pray, hope and cross your fingers that you get your spot back and the dream comes true all over again,” she says.
Natalie’s in her first season as a cheerleader and says she always remembers her first performance.
“It was with the Junior Flight Crew, in our home opener against the Giants. My heart nearly stopped beating for a second as I was running on to the field with the girls. As soon as I started performing, everything fit into place and I realised it was where I wanted to be and where I wanted to do.
“People do not realise how much hard work we put into it. There is so much training but when everything fell into place it was one of the happiest moments of my life.”
During the season, the cheerleaders rehearse three times a week, explains Danielle.
“Two of those days are working in the studio with choreographers, getting to know routines, preparing new rookies and so on. Then we go outside into the elements to learn doing that outside which can be the hard part. You train and work hard during the summer but you perform when it is cold and it could be snowing or raining which makes it more difficult.”
Of course, the girls are primarily there to whip up the crowd and add atmosphere to the games themselves, Danielle continues.
“The players know we are there for them, to cheer the team on and help them to win. We help to bring the fans closer to the players because we all want the same thing – we all want the Jets to win in the end. It’s a big family.”
As for the budding Cayman cheerleaders. Natalie has some sage advice.
“Always follow your heart and follow your passions. Even if you think you can’t do it [go for it], if you can imagine it, you can do it.
“There is a girl who has just made the team and she tried out four times before she was successful. Keep trying; work your hardest, train your hardest and you will get what you want one day.
“Never give up – it is a cliche, but it’s the truth.”
The 2014 calendar will be released at pre-season toward the end of the summer. The trip was arranged in conjunction with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.