By MIKE CHAIKEN
The New England Patriots are New England.
And when the Pats won the Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons a few weeks ago, there were several Connecticut women on the sidelines as members of the cheer squad.
Alex Brandy, a Terryville native, was one of those women.
And for Brandy, who was a rookie on the squad, the Super Bowl was a fine way to cap off her season.
Brandy, who also taught dance at Apogee Dance Academy in Southington, said in an email interview, “I’ll never forget that day at the AFC Championship when the confetti started to fall, and we realized we were on our way to the Super Bowl. I think the best way to describe it was nervous excitement. We were so excited for our team, excited that we get to be a part of the biggest game of the year, but also nervous for the huge journey we were about to take on the road to the Super Bowl.”
As for what excited her most, Brandy said, “Growing up watching the Super Bowl on TV every year absolutely in awe at the hardest working teams in the NFL and seeing all of the amazing performances, it’s a young dancer’s dream to one day perform at such a huge event. Getting to perform on the field with all of my teammates, and watching the Pats win was the absolute most exciting thing that has happened in my life yet.”
Brandy, who took dance classes at Terryville’s Reach for the Stars, said she wanted to join the Pats’ cheerleaders because, “I’ve always wanted to be a professional dancer, and growing up in New England and going to school in Massachusetts, I was a huge Pats fan. Becoming a Patriots cheerleader combines the best of both worlds.”
When she learned she made the squad, she said the feeling was “almost indescribable. My biggest dream came true right before my eyes. I don’t think I stopped screaming the rest of that day.”
Brandy found herself on the same squad as another Terryville native, Karen Link, who was one of the captains this year.
“Karen is a great captain,” said Brandy. “She is confident, honest, and always gave great advice throughout the season. It was comforting having someone on the team who came from a similar background.”
As for the rest of the squad, Brandy said, “This year’s squad in my opinion was amazing to be a part of. Everyone on the team is incredibly nice and hardworking. I feel like each one of us brings something different to the team, yet we all help each other and work together so well.”
Once the cheerleaders knew they were heading to Houston for the Big Game, the preparation began. “Our team always puts 110 percent in to every practice,” said Brandy. “We even practice before practice.”
For the Super Bowl, she said, “We were given over 60 songs that we had to memorize choreography to, not even including our on field routine. We worked very hard as a team to perfect each routine, practicing at home, at the hotel in Houston, and even helped each other study the songs and steps on the plane.”
As part of the pre-game celebrations, Brandy said, “We got to do a lot of fun appearances…. The send off rally at Gillette Stadium was so much fun; our fans really know how to cheer on the team. We also got to do fun segments on a few TV shows including ‘Good Morning America,’ ‘Fox and Friends,’ and ‘Inside Edition.’ Meeting and doing an interview with Simon Biles was definitely a highlight, too.”
The game itself was a nailbiter. At halftime, the Patriots were behind the Falcons.
But Brandy said she never lost faith in the Pats. “If any team could come back in the fourth quarter it would be them.”
When the game went into OT, Brandy said, “In that moment, all any of us could think… one more.”
And 40 years from now, when she talks to her grandchildren about her Super Bowl championship experience with the Patriots, she said, “I’ll be describing it as one of the best experiences of my life. Along with showing off the hundreds of pictures we took along the way; I think we captured just about every moment of that trip.”
Auditions for next year’s squad begin March 4. And Brandy is ready to make it year two with New England.
“Why wouldn’t I want to be a Patriots Cheerleader for another year?” said Brandy. “It is truly a dream come true.”