At New York Jets Flight Crew tryouts cheerleaders hope NFL dreams take flight

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By Elizabeth Hays, Staff Writer
The New York Daily News
May 3rd 2009

Photo Gallery: New York Jets Flight Crew tryouts

There’s more to these wanna-be cheerleaders than just another pretty face.

A civil engineer, a banker, a medical student and a global contracts expert were among the nearly 150 women who flocked to this year’s tryouts for the New York Jets Flight Crew cheerleading squad.

“I didn’t tell anyone at work I was doing this,” laughed Julie Rogyom, 26, a civil engineer from Warren, N.J., who wowed the judges with her gravity-defying jumps, spins and kicks. “I go from being a tomboy at work mixing concrete to this – fluffing my hair, putting on rhinestones and getting spray-tanned.”

Rogyom was one of 73 hopefuls who made the first cut Saturday and will return Sunday morning to Fairleigh Dickinson University for another round of auditions.

The 30 or so finalists from Sunday will compete next Saturday alongside the squad’s current 22 members for a chance to perform in front of 80,000 fans at Jets home games.

“It keeps you in shape,” said Alicia Gamble, 24, an advertising coordinator from Manhattan, who turned in her work suits for a turquoise halter top and hot pants.

Reiko Nishimura, 29, who negotiates global contracts for Bloomberg, LP, said getting up in front of the judges was harder than anything she faces at work.

“I was so nervous, I have no idea what I did,” said Nishimura, who performed a dizzying string of front and back flips during her 90-second routine, though she ultimately wasn’t chosen. “It felt like two hours.”

Jets officials wouldn’t divulge what the dancers would earn, though hopefuls said they heard it was less than $100 per game.

“It’s kind of sad that players get paid millions and the dancers get paid pennies, but we don’t do it for the money,” said Jessica Montoya, 21, a college student from Manhattan, who threw in some salsa and break-dancing moves into her routine. “Dancers are a dime a dozen. You have to have that extra spice.”

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