As someone with a bit of a commitment issue, I seriously can’t fathom doing something consistently for eight years, but Buffalo Bills cheerleader (known as the Buffalo Jills), Christina isn’t quite the commitment-phobe I am. Since the earliest allowable age (18), Christina has served as a beautiful Buffalo Jill as well as a line captain for the past four years.
Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, the 5’6″ strawberry blonde with an abundance of energy and personality to match is no stranger to Bills football, in particular HOF’er Jim Kelly. “My favorite player growing up was Jim Kelly mostly because my father enjoyed watching him. Growing up, I thought it was an annual holiday that the Bills made it to Super Bowl just because of how much Buffalo Bills football was played in our household,” Christina says as we talk about the Bills being the only team to win four consecutive AFC Championships and make it to the Super Bowl four consecutive times in the early ’90s. She begins to brag, but with a record of such, I have to admit, it’s brag-worthy. Or at least it used to be.
Christina and I talk more about the Bills, their traditions and their cold weather temperatures, but then back to her love and appreciation of Jim Kelly. “Jim Kelly was the quarterback who led our team to those same four consecutive Super Bowls and inducted into the pro-football Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible. He now resides in western New York and watches from the sidelines every home game,” she gushes. The same sidelines she cheers from, no less.
The Bills are the only NFL team who plays their home games in the state of New York, and the only team who plays one regular season home game in Toronto, CA (as of 2008). So clearly no stranger to cold weather.
I ask Christina to describe the crowd and the fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium and she talks about one of my favorite things in the sporting world – wild fans and their obsession with body paint. “Honestly, there is not one snowstorm that will keep Bills fans from showing off their body paint in the stands. No matter the weather, no matter the score, our fans are one of the most loyal and dedicated in the league. Of the stadiums in the league, Ralph Wilson Stadium is the stadium with the catchiest touchdown song in the league. We call it the shout song. If you don’t know how it goes, watch the first ten minutes of Wedding Crashers,” she says, which of course gets the song, and the scene stuck in my head.
It’s been a while since the Bills legacy has come even close to that stretch of four consecutive years of winning football, I imagine making the life of a cheerleader more difficult. “I think that when you become a Buffalo Jills cheerleader, you need to be a die hard fan. We are considered the support system between the team and our fans and if that support system fails our will to win vanishes. We go by the motto that no matter what, you always need to Billieve,’ Christina says on how important it is to continue cheering and keeping a smile on your face at all times.
“My favorite player to watch is our running back, Fred Jackson. His drive to lead his team to success has been inspiring to me since we first walked out on the field. His motivation he gives his teammates on a constant basis makes him one of the leading role models in the Bills locker room,” she says.
Christina spends her workdays as an HR Analyst and admits that dirty martinis, doing laundry and shoe shopping are her guilty pleasures. Throughout her eight years as an NFL cheerleader, her best memory was being selected to represent the Jills at the 2010 NFL Pro Bowl. “It means nothing more than to have your own teammates grant you that honor. I am truly blessed they chose me. Most cheerleaders look to going to the NFL Pro Bowl as the Super Bowl for the cheerleaders in that only one girl gets to go from each NFL team who has cheerleaders,” she says.
Christina also enjoys playing broomball in her spare time. “Yes that involves running on ice with a broom shaped as a stick,” she says in response to my puzzled face. There’s a lot about Christina that shows me she loves and knows football, she’s pretty and dainty and guys love her, but the girl could probably get down and get feisty if need be, so watch out.
As always, we talk about all the awesome opportunities Christina has been able to take part in over the last eight years, but all the commitment and energy that go into this lifestyle. “I think any girl who has lived the NFL cheerleader life would back me when I say that being a professional cheerleader is a part-time job full-time commitment. Many people on the outside are not aware of what kind of time and commitment it takes just to be an NFL cheerleader. Most of us have full-time jobs, second jobs, are students, and live on our own. Keeping the balance between your commitments as a cheerleader and your life can be challenging. However, as tough as the hectic schedule can be, time management is almost the best life lesson I have learned while being on the Jills,” she says positively.
Be sure to check out my favorite feisty Buffalo Jills cheerleader the rest of this NFL season, as it will be her last. Just like the players, the cheerleaders also retire after a great career and Christina informed me this will be her last season before retiring. “And as I move on with my next chapter in my life I would like to personally thank my number one support system who has been with me from day one, the Buffalo Jills cheerleading organization,” she closes.
Jayme Lamm is a freelance sports and travel writer based in Houston and is currently in a full-court press writing her hugely opinionated sports column, The Blonde Side. Follow her travels for sporting events and check her out on Twitter.
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