By Ashley Ioveno
It may not be football season just yet, but there is plenty of action going on at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. While the New York Jets are working on putting together its 2014 roster, the Flight Crew (the Jets’ dance and cheer team) is hosting auditions for this season’s cheerleading team. Kirstin McDonough, a senior Health Science major and a four-year member of the LIU Post Dance Team, is now in the final round of auditions with hopes as high as her kicks.
The Jets’ Flight Crew auditions consist of three rounds: preliminaries, semi-finals and finals. Saturday, March 29, and Sunday, March 30, marked the beginning of the tryout process. Cuts were made each day in order to find the 40 girls who will be inducted into this year’s Flight Crew. 200 girls auditioned. Of them, 102 made it to the semi-finals, and only 63 made it to the final round, which will take place on Thursday, April 10.
McDonough is one of the 63 contestants headed to the finals. McDonough tried out for the crew last year, but was cut in the semi- finals round. She used last year’s cut as motivation to work even harder this year. “The biggest struggle with preparing for auditions is time management. I have to balance school, dance, work, and being able to train and work out. It isn’t easy,” McDonough said.
“Tryouts went great this year,” she added. “I attended one of the three prep classes offered before tryouts and received a boarding pass.” The boarding pass enabled McDonough to skip the preliminary round and go directly to the semi-finals. “Being able to skip that was a relief, but [it] meant I was [entering a] harder competition,” she said.
Auditions for semi-finals were held on Sunday, March 30, in the Lexus Club at MetLife Stadium. The day began with a brief introduction, followed by a choreographed routine the participants would perform for the judges later on. After learning the choreography, the cheerleaders were given plenty of time to rehearse and get ready to perform.
“I’m really excited about this group. I’m probably more excited about this group of finalists than I have been in a while,” said Denise Garvey, the director of Flight Crew, in a recent interview with a Jets spokesperson.
“They’re always tough because you know how badly people want to be a part of the team,” Garvey added. “It’s always hard, and you just hope that they can use it as a learning experience, and if they really want it, they’ll grow and develop…as…performer[s] and come back [stronger next year].”
McDonough did just that. “It was hard to walk in feeling confident after last year’s auditions, but I’ve trained 10 times harder, and I know that I have what it takes. It feels so incredible and wonderful to see my hard work finally pay off,” McDonough said. “I feel thankful knowing that I made it to finals, but I know that the competition isn’t over just yet.”
On April 10, McDonough will perform the routines that were taught at the semis, as well as a 90-second solo in which she will showcase her own style of dance for the judges.
“She really deserves it; she is always training and working so hard. I know if she makes it onto the team, she will be a great teammate and asset [to] the Crew,” said Ashley Munford, a junior Education major and member of the LIU Post Dance Team.
“I know she has what it takes. She has the look, the body, the strength, the skills, and the showmanship,” said Alyssa Clarkin, an alumni LIU Post Dance Team member and close friend of McDonough. “I believe that Kirstin will make it through the final round with no trouble at all, and if she doesn’t, I know that she will work even harder for next year’s auditions; nothing will stop her.”
“I feel like it’s anybody’s game,” said Garvey about the competition. “We have a lot of retiring cheerleaders, but that doesn’t mean that anybody is safe.”
“I’m genuinely excited for finals; I really think I have a good chance of making the team,” McDonough said. Her journey to become a Jet Flight Crew member began a year ago and now it all has come down to one final round.