Waltham Woman Ready to Cheer on the Pats

Joyce Kelly
Daily News

It wasn’t long ago that 20-year-old Jessica Aiello stood in line at the Burlington Mall, eagerly awaiting a chance to meet Patriots Cheerleaders and snag a few autographs.

Now, Aiello is signing autographs for young girls, juggling a hectic schedule of cheerleading practice and promotions for the Patriots.

In mid-March, Aiello, who captained the cheerleading team at Waltham High School before she graduated in 2007, beat out about 300 women for a spot on the New England Patriots cheerleading team.


The competition was stiff, with cheerleaders from all over Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York City and one even hailing from China – vying for a coveted position, she said.

“I was very nervous. You never really know what’s going to happen. It all depends on that day, if you perform to your best. It was very nerve-wracking,” said Aiello.

Aiello has been perfecting the art of cheering since she was just 9 years old, rooting in the Pop Warner League. She continued cheering in middle school and at Waltham High, helping bring home second place in the Greater Boston League cheering competition her sophomore year.

“I definitely always wanted to be a Patriots Cheerleader, being a huge Patriots fan,” she said.

Aiello is studying dental hygiene at Middlesex Community College, where there is no cheerleading squad, she said.

So rather than waiting until she finished college to pursue her dream of being a Patriots Cheerleader, she tried out her first year of college.

She made the finals last year, but didn’t make the cut.

After speaking with other Patriots Cheerleaders, she learned that a number of young women didn’t make it the first time they tried out. Pats Cheerleaders have to try out every year to stay on the team, she said.

Aiello, who says her best moves are jumps and tumbles, is still getting used to her dream being a reality.

Her days are filled with college classes, practices twice a week, a lot of training camp promotions, selling calendars and signing autographs for fans, she said.

“It’s really weird – I always think, ‘They want an autograph from me?’ It’s a very surreal feeling,” she said, laughing.”

“But it’s a lot of fun,” she said.

The Cheerleaders certainly have a good contingent of male fans, she said, but the biggest fans seem to be young Cheerleaders, like she was.

The best part of being a Patriots Cheerleader, she said, “is meeting all the girls and having so many new friends, and being able to talk to all these Patriots fans – we love them.”

“Being able to cheer at the Patriots’ games it’s very exciting,” she said.

Aiello will make her debut on the team on Aug. 20, at the preseason football game.

Tracy Sormanti, the Cheerleader Director for the New England Patriots Cheerleading Squad, called Aiello “a talented performer with a wonderful personality.”

“She works hard at rehearsals, is very personable at appearances and is a great asset to the New England Patriots Cheerleading Squad,” Sormanti said.

Aiello has already done a promotion with the Patriots in early July, she said, but the Cheerleaders don’t really mingle with the football players.

Said Aiello: “I just love the whole team aspect of it, and just performing and getting the crowing going for the football game.”

[Jessica at Patriots.com]

Former Patriots Cheerleaders Succeeds Her Sister as Mrs. Massachusetts

This past weekend Rosalie Allain-Morris (former New England Patriots Cheerleader) was named Mrs. Massachusetts 2009. Her twin sister, Robin Allain-Moody (also a former New England Patriots Cheerleader) was the 2008 Mrs. Massachusetts and handed the crown down to her twin sister!

From the 1997 Patriots Cheerleader Calendar

From the 1998 Patriots Cheerleader Calendar

Bucs Cheerleaders Abroad

Spreading the Word: Cheerleaders in London

Jul 14, 2009 – Their outfits drew looks, as is usually the case, frankly. In this case, however, some of the stares were born of confusion.

As it turns out, a Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders outfit is a real attention-getter in London, even more so than those wearing the uniforms expected. That’s true throughout the United Kingdom, actually…and that’s a good thing, because the half-dozen Buccaneers Cheerleaders who recently took a five-day promotional tour of the U.K. were there specifically to draw attention.

“Everyone loved us when we were there,” beamed Kelli Jones, one of the six Bucs Cheerleaders to make the trip in late June and early July along with Cheerleading Manager Sandy Charboneau. “At first, people didn’t really know why we were there or why we were dressed the way we were, because American football is not as big in Europe as soccer.”

Jones and her teammates were happy to fill in the blanks for any interested onlookers: They were in the U.K. to promote the 2009 American Bowl game between the Buccaneers and the New England Patriots. The Bucs and Patriots will face each other in London’s Wembley Stadium on October 25, marking the third consecutive year in which the NFL has staged one of its regular-season games at that site.

The first two American Bowl games in London — Miami vs. the New York Giants in 2007 and New Orleans vs. San Diego last year — were big hits among NFL fans in the United Kingdom. The league expects intense interest in the Tampa Bay-New England clash, too, and the Bucs’ Cheerleaders aimed to add to the growing excitement.

“We were there promoting the game, promoting the Buccaneers and trying to rally support for the game in October,” explained Jones. “So far I hear they’ve sold 70,000 tickets and they’re looking to sell at least 10,000 more. I think with our P.R. tour around U.K. we did a pretty good job.”

Jones and Charboneau were joined on the trip by fellow cheerleaders Anna Duncan, Roseanne Strobel, Tiffany Jimenez, Sara Tetzler and Stephanie Mookas. The Bucs’ most enthusiastic rooters have been globetrotters of late; another group of 12 cheerleaders recently returned form a tour of military bases in Japan and Guam.

The crew that went to Europe didn’t confine their efforts to London; they toured much of the United Kingdom, spreading the word about the Bucs’ impending visit from Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland to Brighton, Sheffield, Newcastle and other spots in England. When the Buccaneers return as a full team in October, their six visiting cheerleaders from the summer will be able to show the rest of the squad around. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders plan to arrive in London a week before the game to attend various events and promote the game again.

For Jones, the return visit will be a welcome one. Her advance trip with a handful of teammates was a five-day whirlwind of appearances and sightseeing, and unlike anything she had experienced before.

“I had never been overseas before, so it was very exciting me to make the trip,” gushed Jones. “I can actually say, ‘Oh, I was in London last week.’ How cool is that? It was nonstop but it was totally worth it. How often can you say you went to Europe and you got to see Scotland and all these castles and Buckingham Palace? Everybody can’t say that. It was an awesome trip. All the girls had such a good time.”

They made sure the people they met did, too. That was especially true during a trio of stops in Glasgow, Newcastle and Brighton, where the cheerleaders held clinics on their craft with groups of local children. Conducting such camps is nothing new to the cheerleaders, but it was a novel experience for the kids they encountered.

“It’s always fun to be around kids and see how excited they can be. I think that was probably the best part of the trip. Most of the kids were unfamiliar with American football, and cheerleaders in particular because cheerleading isn’t a big thing in the U.K. So they received us very well. They were so excited for us to be there. That was a lot of fun, hanging out with the kids. The surroundings were different, but kids like to have fun no matter where you are, so that was great. That was probably where we made the biggest impact.”

Whether in schools, on the streets or at Wimbledon — where they were interviewed for a British television network — the visiting cheerleaders did their best to represent the Buccaneers proudly.

“When we’re in uniform, we’re in a Buccaneers mindset,” said Jones. “It’s the Buccaneers, 24/7, no matter where we go. Just walking into a hotel, we know we’re representing the Buccaneers. That is constantly on our minds. We always knew what our purpose was while we were there: to represent the Bucs and the NFL as a whole in Europe. We’re trying to help spread American football around the world.”

That is the NFL’s ultimate goal, of course, and it has found a strong foothold in London. The games in 2007 and 2008 drew huge crowds, and the Buccaneers already have an impressive and loyal fan base in London. From the feedback she and her teammates received during their five days in the U.K., Jones believes this year’s game will prove to be very popular.

“I’m told the previous two games have been sold out, and I think we drummed up some more support with our media blitz,” said Jones. “We at least got the word out, so hopefully that will lead to some word-of-mouth and some added interest. I think it’s going to be a pretty big deal by the time we get there.”

Fomer Knicks City Dancer/Patriots Cheerleader Sarah Mitchell on Dance Your A** Off

courtneyknicksDance Your A** Off is a cross between The Biggest Loser meets So You Think You Can Dance.

The show features teams of overweight contestants will attempt to drop the extra pounds by dancing.

“Teams will get a new dance challenge each week that helps them sweat off those extra pounds,” Oxygen explained in a press release. “They will also learn how to incorporate healthy cuisine into their lifestyle. Each episode culminates with a weigh-in and dance-off.”

Sarah isn’t one of the contestants trying to drop a few pounds; she’s one of the professional dancers paired up with a contestant.

The show premieres Monday, June 29th at 10pm E/PT on Oxygen.

[Dance Your A** Off]

(Former Pats Cheerleader) and Local Bride and Groom Duke it out for Wedding on ‘Today Show’s’ Tab

By Jill Harmacinski
The Eagle-Tribune

Deeply in love, hometown sweethearts Alyssa Manzi and Gary Ritter are definitely getting married. But where and when is a question the nation will now answer for them.

Finalists in the “Today Show Throws a Wedding” competition, the North Andover High School graduates just might be the lucky winners of an all expenses paid wedding and honeymoon. If they win, that means their wedding date moves from October to sometime during the week of July 15.


While wedding planning is often considered time-consuming and stressful, the public would do all the heavy lifting for them, voting on everything from their wedding attire, attendants’ clothes, venue and flowers to the cake and honeymoon destination.

“Everything is really up in the air right now,” said the jubilant mother of the groom, Roseann Ritter, a retired Lawrence school teacher who now lives at Salisbury Beach. “America has to vote.”

Manzi, 30, a public relations executive, and Ritter, 27, an energy sales analyst, were originally among 100 couples selected for the 10th annual “Today Show” wedding contest. Hurdling a series of fun challenges, the couple made it to the final four and voting starts tomorrow morning on www.TodayShow.com for the winning bride and groom.

Already its been quite a journey for a man and woman who grew up similarly but were strangers for decades. Manzi and Ritter both attended the same high school; she graduated in 1997 and Gary got his diploma in 2000. They also both attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst but had never met until three years ago when they were introduced by Alyssa’s cousin. The rest is history, Roseann Ritter said.


Manzi, a former New England Patriots Cheerleader, is “just as nice as she is pretty. They are really a handsome couple together,” she said.

She is the daughter of state police Trooper Albert Manzi and his wife, Kathy, who live in North Andover.

Alyssa and Gary got engaged during a visit to St. Thomas. After shopping for the perfect ring, Gary previously had his mother hide the three-diamond sparkler in her attic until their trip.

“He shopped for weeks for the ring. He really got into it,” Roseann said.

After arriving at the Marriott resort on the Caribbean island, Gary asked Alyssa to marry him.

“He proposed right on the beach in St. Thomas,” his mom said. “It’s a cute little story.”

The lovebirds entered the “Today Show” contest by submitting a homemade video, which included a song they composed together. When they made the top 10, a “Today Show” crew came to Boston and filmed the couple on a date at the Boston Common with the swan boats, Roseann said.

Now Boston residents, the couple this week traveled to the “Today Show” studio at Rockefeller Plaza, New York City, to meet the other finalists.

“I think it’s been a very nice experience for them, even if it doesn’t materialize. It’s been a great adventure. And I suppose they’ll develop some nice friendships, too,” Roseann said.

If they don’t make the final cut, Manzi and Ritter will be married on Oct. 15, at St. Michael Church in North Andover. A reception of family and friends will follow at the Lanam Club in Andover.

Update: A reader informs us that Alyssa also cheered for the Miami Dolphins during the 2002-03 season.