Jaguars cheerleaders do more than get fans hyped
Words By Ambar Ramirez
Their teal and white costumes glitter against the lush green grass, their movements graceful yet powerful like a jaguar. These women are so good at what they do, in fact, you might forget they are just people doing what they love. While the Jaguars football team deserves the praise for the W’s, it’s time to grab some pom-poms and cheer on the cheerleaders who make up The Roar, the Jaguars cheer squad.
The Roar cheer squad is full of empowering women, but they are more than that. And for some, being an NFL cheerleader is a dream. Belinda Pierre has been a cheerleader for The Roar for six years all while also working as a paralegal.
“My favorite thing about being a member of The Roar is fulfilling my lifelong dream of being an NFL cheerleader and being given the opportunity to be a part of the Jaguars organization that has connected me to the most amazing women,” Pierre said. “My teammates are an astonishing group of women. We have teachers, lawyers, hair stylists, dance teachers, students and so much more.”
Before making it to the big leagues, Pierre started dancing and cheering at the age of six, then went on to cheer competitively through middle school, high school and freshman year of college. Still, it wasn’t until she became an NFL cheerleader that she started to consider cheerleading a job. And after six years of working with the team, her hard work and dedication have paid off: This season, Pierre was voted by her team to be one of four cheer captains.
“I was completely shocked at first! I think every member of my team has what it takes to be a captain,” Pierre said. “I feel honored that they put their trust in me.”
At the head of it all is Director of Branded Entertainment Christy S. Zynda, who also serves as cheer coach of The Roar, a position that didn’t even exist before her. Having been a member of The Roar herself from 1998-2000, she knows what it’s like to be in their shoes.
“Dance and cheerleading have been a huge part of my life for over 35 years. I started dance training in the second grade and began cheerleading in the fourth grade,” Zynda said. She danced and cheered through grade school, high school and college before making it as a member of The Roar.
Like with any team, working together is critical for success. But with The Roar, they work together on and off the field, doing community work throughout Northeast Florida. Every week, members of The Roar are at schools, inspiring the students, helping the schools reach their goals, and doing reading and fitness programs. The Roar also make appearances at charitable events with the Jaguars Foundation and Community Impact, helping out with food drives, football camp and more.
“The community events we participate in are at the core of what we do,” Zynda said. “ We are ambassadors for the Jaguars, the NFL, and our city!”
For Pierre one of her favorite parts of being on the team is participating in the Junior Roar event. Every season, the team comes together to teach junior cheerleaders a dance routine, which they all perform together at a Jaguars game during halftime.
“It feels like a full circle moment for me,” Pierre said. “As a child, I admired the cheerleaders more than anything and wanted to be just like them. Now getting to be on the other side as a Jaguars cheerleader and see the light in the junior cheerleaders’ eyes when they get to dance with us is amazing.”
Still, despite all the heartfelt events the team does, nothing compares to game day. Even for Zynda who has been with the team for 25 seasons, game days are one of her favorite experiences.
“It is very exciting to see all of the hard work come together and see members of the team fulfilling their dreams,” Zynda said.
Cheering is like any sport; it requires hard work, discipline, teamwork and creativity. And just like any sport, when it comes to game day, the cheer squad gives it their all. Regardless of where your seats are at the stadium or whether you are watching the game from home, one thing for sure is that you will hear The Roar of the Jaguars.