by MIKE CHAIKEN
Each year, Karen Link of Terryville not only gets to be a New England Patriots cheerleader. She gets to be a model.
Before the cheerleaders step out onto the field at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro for the NFL home opener– and after they have been picked to be one of the chosen few—they fly off to somewhere exotic to photograph a souvenir calendar for their fans.
This year, said Link—a three year veteran who is now a captain of the squad—the Pats’ cheerleaders flew off to Bimini, Bahamas.
“We’ll shoot the full calendar and also participate in video interviews and promotional appearances with other guests and locals,” said Link, a Holy Cross High School in Waterbury graduate.
Link, who is a former Teen Miss Bristol and former Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen said, “The calendar trips have certainly made me more comfortable with modeling. Our crew that comes each year is incredibly talented and have become great friends. They bring a ton of creativity and we learn a lot from them, which is really helpful.”
“It’s really exciting to see the final product each year,” said Link of that moment she sees the calendar for the first time. “All of the girls go to each other’s shoots and we stop by to see hair, makeup, and wardrobe. Getting to see the behind the scenes makes it even more fun to see what the final images look like at the calendar reveal later this year.”
For the Pats’ cheerleaders, explained Link, the trip for the calendar shoot also is about more than looking good for the camera.
“This is the first experience where we all get to spend time with each other,” said Link. “It’s where the team really gets to bond. While we’re there we’ll hold dance practices, daily team workouts, and promotional appearances but we also get to have down time just hanging out with each other by the beach or grab meals together.”
“Our director also pairs up rookies with veterans for roommates so it gives you a chance to get to be a ‘big sister’ to one of the girls,” said Link. “I’m still really close with my calendar trip roommates from the past two years. The sisterhood is a really special part about our team.”
For images behind the scenes of last year’s Patriots’ cheerleaders’ calendar shoot, go to Behind the scenes of a Patriots’ cheerleaders calendar shoot