By MIKE CHAIKEN
Connecticut once again will be represented on the sidelines of the New England Patriots’ as the cheerleader squad welcomes a freshman from the Nutmeg State.
Jonet Nichelle, a North Haven, Conn. resident and a 2017 graduate of Post College in Waterbury, Conn., has joined the cheerleading squad that will dance on the sidelines and spur Tom Brady and the team to victory.
Nichelle, in an email interview, said she wanted to be part of the Patriots’ organization after “the first workshop I attended in 2017. I knew I wanted to be a part of the squad… the amount of professionalism that was displayed from each individual involved was incredible. ”
To become a Patriots’ cheerleader, Nichelle said, “The audition process began in March with the preliminary round with about 400 candidates. It began with a freestyle round. The judges made a cut and the selected women moved forward to the next round in which we learned a choreographed routine and performed it for the judges. That was the final cut of the day and those women moved on to group interviews. From there, we went into the final round of auditions, which was basically a mini pageant held at Foxwoods Casino. At the end of the night, 65 young women were chosen to advance to boot camp, which was a two week process, at the end of that the squad was chosen for the year.”
Even before she tried out, Nichelle said she knew she wanted to be on a dance team like the Patriots’ cheerleaders.
“I’ve been a dancer since the age of 2 and have always been a part of a team,” said Nichelle. “The first year I auditioned (for the Pats’ squad) I was still in college and a member of the track and field team. I honestly did not know how much work and dedication it took to be a member of the team. When I didn’t make it the first year, of course, I was very discouraged but it was all I could think about. So it wasn’t just something on my bucket list but a dream that I was determined to accomplish.”
Now that she is a Patriots’ cheerleader, Nichelle has been working at full speed to prepare for the upcoming season.
“Training is very intense,” said Nichelle. “But I always gladly accept a challenge and remind myself that it’s ‘mind over matter.’ Every young lady on the team is extremely fit, not only physically but mentally as well which is so important. As a personal trainer, I was really excited to be trained by another professional.”
As for her squad mates this year, Nichelle, “I love that each and every one of us are so very different but we are able to work together as a team. We all uplift, encourage, and support one another on the field and off.”
Nichelle, as noted is a trained dancer. She also competed for Miss Connecticut, this year as Miss Litchfield County, reaching the top five. She also competed this past year at Miss Connecticut USA.
“Everything I’ve set out to accomplish thus far has helped me in every aspect in my life,” said Nichelle. “I’ve been blessed to have an amazing support system who have made my dreams there’s as well.”
The Patriots were due to play a preseason game at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 9 against the Washington Redskins. And the regular season home opener was set for Sept. 9 against the Houston Texans.
When she steps out onto to the sidelines of Foxboro for the first time as a Patriots’ cheerleader Nichelle said “Honestly, I think it will be absolutely amazing. Last week (from July 30 to Aug. 3) I was able to participate in the Patriots Junior cheerleaders clinic, which was a fun filled day with young cheerleaders who aspire to one day be on the squad… that was also my first time dancing on the field, I had so many emotions but I mostly felt proud of myself. ”