For some, cheerleading isn’t always first perceived as a love. Rather it’s considered an outlet.
That certainly proved to be the case for Liz, this week’s New York Jets Flight Crew Gameday Girl.
“Cheerleading started out as a way just to make friends,” Liz said, “and it turned into a career.”
Before ninth grade, the rookie Flight Crew member said she had never had been associated with a team. But trying out as a freshman in high school, she earned a spot on her junior varsity squad. The next year she advanced to the varsity roster.
“I just persevered,” she said, “and was one of those kids that was up until 10 at night practicing the same skill over and over and over until I got it.”
Liz began cheering later than most of her fellow Flight Crew companions, but it wasn’t necessarily by choice. During her childhood, she moved over 20 times because her parents were property managers who worked on different types of properties such as campgrounds, resorts and private estates.
Most of the moves weren’t major, just in between towns in South Jersey, but one was more drastic and memorable than the others. At the age of 12, Liz’s family spent six months in Sunnybrook, Ky. Adjusting to life in Sunnybrook was quite a transition, especially considering the closest stores were 45 minutes from home.
“I think me and my little brother, we had a good attitude about it,” she said. “We made it an adventure.”
The moving came to an end prior to the start of high school when Liz’s parents made her and her little brother a promise.
“They said we’re only going to accept jobs where we can keep you put,” she recalled. “They kind of gave us a quote-unquote normal teenage childhood instead of a military-style family. That was very kind of them.”
Liz attended high school in Royersford, Pa., before starting college at West Chester University. She would later transfer to Kean University, where today she is a senior and will graduate in May with a degree in health and physical education. Aside from her busy schedule with the Flight Crew and as a student, Liz also is a devoted wife who just recently opened her own business in the wellness industry.
“I’m a massage therapist by trade,” she said.
She typically works at her business 10-15 hours a week and following graduation plans on becoming a wellness professional. At the same time, one of her other primary goals is to attain a masters’ degree in nutrition.
For Liz, being selected as this week’s Gameday Girl is a flattering honor and not just because the Jets happen to be facing the New England Patriots. More important, it’s an honor because the game will be played on her favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.
“I’m very family-oriented,” Liz said. “Obviously, growing up with my family and having nothing else to kind of grasp onto, I became close to them. I look forward to it because there’s nothing else to get distracted in. I feel like a lot of the other holidays have kind of hubbub around them, a lot of built-up hype, whereas Thanksgiving stays true to itself in that you should be thankful for things.”
Liz has plenty to be thankful for and although her childhood wasn’t as smooth as most of her peers due to the constant cycle of moving, she said she wouldn’t change the journey.
“So many people try to turn it into a pity thing, poor you,” she said. “And I really don’t want it to sound that way. That’s one of the things I’m most proud of in my life, being able to say that you grew up with your family through thick and thin and you were able to develop a foundation."
Yes, technically a rookie on paper, but clearly not in actions and in words.