Waltham resident Jessica Aiello is proud to be part of the New England Patriots's cheerleading team, and Patch has a Q&A with her. See below.
Name: Jessica Aiello
When did Aiello start cheerleading and why does she enjoy it?: Wanting to be just like her older cousins, Aiello said she started cheerleading for Waltham’s Pop Warner team when she was 8 years old. She continued cheering throughout high school and was the captain of s team.
Aiello said she loves everything about cheering, from the relationships she builds with team members to the annual trip to shoot the Patriots’ swimsuit calendar.
“We get to perform in one of the greatest venues with the world’s best fans, travel the world and build great memories and life-long friendships along the way,” she said.
Is this her first season on the Patriots’ squad?: Aiello said that this will be her third season cheering for the Patriots, but it will also be her last because of rule that allows cheerleaders to stay for a maximum of three years. Still, Aiello believes the three-year system has a positive effect on the team and gives others a a chance to join the squad.
“It’s probably good that they do it this way or we would all keep trying out,” she said. “It’s such an amazing experience you never want to stop.”
Describe your experience auditioning for the team?: Aiello said that the audition process takes about five weeks, including a preliminary round where about 500 hopefuls audition. After several rounds of cuts, 70 girls make it to the selection stage.
Girls who have previously been on the the squad enter the process at the final round, where they are required to audition with cheerleaders who have never been on the team. Then, the group travels to a cheerleading camp for two weeks where they hone their dancing and media relations skills. After that, the final team is picked.
Is cheerleading a part-time gig? What is the time commitment like?
Aiello said that while cheering for the Patriots is technically part-time, it involves an extensive time commitment. The squad practices twice per week and each cheerleader must also complete 50 team promotions throughout the year.
The pace is so grueling, Aiello said, that the team never really has an off-season. During the summer months, they preparing for the next season. When the season ends in February, the girls start prepping for next year’s tryouts.
What does Aiello do besides cheerleading?
Aiello is a full-time student at Middlesex Community College where she is studying to become a dental hygienist. She will graduate in a few weeks and plans to spend her free time studying for the board exams schedule for June.
When she is not cheering or studying, Aiello said she frequents the gym or sleeps late.
What is the dynamic among the cheerleading team?
Aiello said that the 31 girls on the squad come from diverse backgrounds and from various parts of New England. They have various jobs outside of cheerleading, but nevertheless, they are all passionate about dancing and performing.
“We all get along great and many of them have become my best friends,” she said
Does the cheer squad socialize with the football players?
Aiello said that the cheerleaders have almost no interaction with any of the Patriots football players.
“The cheerleaders and the players have completely opposite practice schedules, so we virtually never see them except during the games,” she said.