Buffalo Jill of The Month Melissa

Our Buffalo Jill of The Month is only finishing up her second season with the Jills but has been on the professional level dancing and cheering longer than anyone in Buffalo except thirteen-year veteran Jills captain Omarlla. The reason for that is the nearly seven seasons Melissa put in as a member of the NLL’s Buffalo Bandettes. As a Bandette, she was a co-captain for four seasons and a captain her last season on the squad but she contributed a lot more than leadership and dance skills to the NLL’s premier dance squad. A number of times over the years she contributed some of her journalistic skills to NLL.com when they featured one of her Bandettes squadmates as their NLL Girl Of The Week. In her early years on the Bandettes, when she was starting out in college, she had plans of becoming a television news anchor. However, after a few years in college, she decided to focus on Integrated Marketing Communications and is now working in Fundraising and Development for a non-profit organization with one of her Jills squadmates.

Dancing since the age of 2 in various forms of dance including on various competition teams, it was only natural that Melissa would dance on the big stage as a member of the Bandettes. On a squad that shows off several dance styles and includes choreography from the Bandettes themselves, Melissa was not only a great fit but even expanded her repertoire having to dance in 4 big performances per game with a total of about 20 different performances per season, a lot more than an NFL Cheerleading squad has to learn. With all that, one would think that her career with the Bandettes would be all she could want.

However, fate played its hand as, in 2010, the Buffalo Jills were slated to perform at halftime of the Bills’ game in Toronto along with music group Hinder. Even with one of the largest squads in the NFL, there weren’t enough dancers to make the show big enough so the Jills called in several alumni, some dancers from the Jills choreographer’s dance studio, and the Buffalo Bandettes, whose 2011 squad had just been selected. In working with the Jills to put together the performance, it got Melissa and a couple of other Bandettes thinking about what it would be like to cheer with the Jills on a regular basis so, in the spring, late in the Bandits season and just prior to Jills tryouts, they took a chance and gave up the Bandettes to try out for the Jills.

Melissa and long-time Bandettes squadmate Beth made the cut for the 2011 Buffalo Jills and, with the support of their husbands and the help of a few friends who were already vets with the Jills, they made a very nice adjustment going from a dance-heavy squad to a cheerleading squad. There was a lot to adjust to as well: more cheering, which Melissa spent all high school doing but had more of a dance focus in the time since graduating; a larger squad which isn’t as close-knit as a smaller one; and cheering outdoors instead of in the cozy confines of the First Niagara Center. She’s always loved getting to experience all four seasons in Western NY but the season finale between the Bills and the Jets will be the 2nd time she’s cheered in the snow in her professional career and last year’s snowfall during the December game against Miami was pretty light. One would think that would be a deterrent but there are a lot of Jills alumni who label some snow games as their favorite games they got to cheer in.

Looking back over her career, whether she chooses to go on with the Jills or retire from the spotlight, Melissa will have gotten to achieve a lot more than any Jills or Bandettes squadmate she’s had. She’s gotten to dance and cheer on the professional level for 9 seasons, including a championship season in 2008 for the Bandits. She’s danced in huge halftime performances in two of her three trips to Toronto and made dozens of friendships and met thousands of people that she wouldn’t have had she not done both.  You can read more about Melissa here and get a look at some of the photos taken over the course of her career by clicking here. Hopefully she’ll be adding to that for a number of years yet to come. Even though she hasn’t always been a vocal leader, she’s always set a solid example for her squadmates and all she comes in contact with.

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