Reunited and it "Cheers" so Good!
Alumni Cheerleaders is excited to have caught up with member, Jennifer Gale Jones! She is a former Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleader (90-91). Please read her personal journal on how cheering and dancing began for her and the impact it made during her life.
Writing this bio has given me a chance to reflect in a way I never have on my cheerleader Curriculum Vitae. I think I was born to dance, and I always feel a little out of sync with myself when dance is missing in my life. Dance for me began with classical ballet at age 5, black leotard, pink tights and slippers, name embroidered over my heart. I branched out into cheerleading at age 11. My mother was the instigator of the former and childhood/lifelong friends, the latter. I love the discipline and athleticism involved in ballet, as well as its’ ethereal beauty and have continued to be involved in it in some form or fashion always. Ballet formed the foundation of training for all other forms of dance and athletics, even in everyday posture and carriage, which translates well to all forms of personal expression, and in my view, is a large portion of success in any endeavor.
Cheerleading began with Junior High School at Thomas A. Edison in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Our award winning football team was the Edison Eagles, with colors green and white. Our cheerleaders won awards too. Our student body was notably academic and athletic in many sports. Moving on to college, at the University of Tulsa, I performed with, captained, and choreographed for the Golden Girls Dance Team. Our TU basketball team was the NIT Champion in 1981 under Coach Nolan Richardson.
Through the years, fitness classes have been a mainstay. Aerobics entered my life in the early 1980’s, during the “Flashdance” and “Fame” movie era. Secretly, I wanted to audition for the Solid Gold Dancers on television, but life took me to the other side of the country.
I moved to Philadelphia in 1987 to further my fledgling career in investments and insurance. I was with MassMutal back then. I loved the East Coast, which I learned later was the point of origin for my matriarchal tie to the Delaware Indian (Lenni Lenape) Tribe. The business environment was welcoming to a determined young woman, which I found to be lacking in the Midwest. Early on, I perceived that Philadelphia is a sports town, which I could relate to, as Oklahoma was and is very much a sports state (albeit at the high school and college levels). Wanting to connect to my adopted city and the entire Delaware Valley, I saw the pathway through cheerleading. I remember there were 450 young ladies trying out for 9 spots on the Philadelphia Eagles’ Cheerleaders team in May 1990. I was no young chick at 29, but I was determined, and I had superb high kicks! Thrilled to have made it through all the cuts to a spot on the team, at last I could dance my heart out for an NFL Team and its famous Fans. Once again, the mascot was an Eagle, and the colors, green and white!
Performing as an NFL cheerleader is a peak experience that lasts a lifetime and forms the basis for many relationships with people and places. My time on the squad was all too brief; building my budding investment advisory practice was all-encompassing. But thinking back on it, it is still fresh and brings a smile.
It was strange that where I began, cheerleading was part and parcel of many girls’ school years, and I gained athletic scholarships in college for it. But, women in business were not taken as seriously in my homestate. Then, having moved to the East Coast, I experienced more opportunity and respect as a business person. But at that time, being a cheerleader there was not quite yet perceived with the respect it deserves. Or maybe that was just my experience, by way of my Merrill Lynch associates in Philadelphia.
Today, I maintain my investment/insurance/financial planning firm Jones, LLC with a nationwide Clientele, and am an Independent Advisor. I stress protecting wealth as well as growing it, and love all the aspects of my work. Still feel like a cheerleader, for my Clients!
I attended the first National Football Cheerleader Alumni Reunion outside of Washington, DC last summer. I encourage everyone to get to the next reunion in 2014. Doing line dances with hundreds of former NFL cheerleaders with a live DJ should not be missed! I am an Alumni of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority, and have served on the board of Indian Health Care Resource Center in Tulsa. I travel to Europe every year, and visit the East Coast, Chicago and Shasta Springs, California regularly.
My view over the past forty years is especially gratifying now that women have become better known for their well-roundedness, succeeding in all facets of life. They always did of course, but it is relatively recently that we are viewed more objectively by the broader audience. And we are evolving at lightning speed!I am so proud of my Philadelphia Eagles’ and NFL association. I am so pleased that the alumni of former NFL Cheerleaders is organizing and that we are continuing to support our communities and our country with increasing public awareness.
We, Cheerleaders, are a force for constructive accomplishment, at a time when national team work is essential to our collective success.
As you can see, I am still a Cheerleader! Always will be.
Jennifer Gale Jones
PS: I still have my green and white pompons and I still have a superb high kick!