Photo by the Canton Charge
When Jessy tried cheerleading for the first time as a high-school freshman; she had no idea it would change the rest of her life.
During her time cheering on the high-school sidelines, Jessy realized she was really interested in dance. After practices, she would go home, look up choreography on YouTube and teach herself dances.
Today, Jessy’s a sophomore at The University of Akron and a professional dancer with the Canton Charge. After participating in a summer intensive dance course in North Hollywood, Jessy tried out to be a Cleveland Cavaliers Girl. Although she made it to the final round, she wasn’t chosen, but dance coach Toni Wall encouraged her to try out for the Charge Girls.
Owned by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Canton Charge is an NBA Development League that plays its games in the Canton Memorial Civic Center. Last year was the Charge’s inaugural season but this is the first season the Charge will have its own dance team.
What was it like to join the dance team?
Jessy: It was a dream come true to be chosen as one of the original eight members of the Canton Charge Girls dance team. I used to dream about becoming a professional dancer when I was younger. I still can’t believe it’s real!
What traditions or rituals do you do before a performance to bring you good luck and to avoid jitters?
Jessy: Before a performance I start getting hyped up. I get goose bumps all over, I start getting anxious and I can’t stand still. To avoid being nervous, I close my eyes and imagine myself nailing the choreography.
In addition to dancing on the court during a basketball game, what are the other responsibilities for the Charge Girls?
Jessy: We’re there to make sure the fans have the best experience possible. We add excitement and keep the fans’ energy up. We also actively volunteer within the community. Our goal is to make a positive difference in Canton.
How do you stay energized and positive during very long practices?
Jessy: I’m happy to be at practice doing what I love, and I enjoy working hard to prove that I earned it. If I ever feel myself getting down, I imagine I’m at a game and the fans are keeping my energy levels high.
Do you ever catch yourself daydreaming and thinking up new choreography?
Jessy: Yes! I either catch myself dancing or thinking of new choreography for my favorite song of the week. When I want to clear my mind and relieve stress, I just run choreography through my mind. Dance is how I keep myself sane.
In my spare time, you’ll find me…
Jessy: Cuddled up, watching TV with my puppy, Louie. Louie’s three years old, but I still call him a puppy because he’s so fluffy and cute. Our guilty pleasure is watching “The Walking Dead” and “How I Met Your Mother” — although Louie isn’t a big fan of the zombies in “The Walking Dead” so I cover his eyes!
Who’s your biggest fan?
Jessy: Definitely my mommy. She’s always believed in me and supported me. Not to mention, she stayed up all night to make my audition outfit; thanks Mom! All my life she’s told me I can be whatever I want to be as long as I put in the work.
What would surprise people about you?
Jessy: I have an Anti-nuclear Antibodies factor of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. It’s not something I ever let get in the way. I treat my body right with proper nutrition, exercise and vitamins. Sometimes when my knees bother me, I’ll take it easy. Otherwise, I act as if it doesn’t even exist.
What do you do to maintain a tiptop dancer’s body? And, on those off days when you feel like cheating, what’s your biggest food indulgence?
Jessy: I exercise six days a week and incorporate stretching and practicing yoga. I make sure I cover all the food groups, especially vegetables. I only eat foods that are natural and organic. However, I am a huge chocoholic! Dark chocolate is my weakness.
What advice would you give to young women who aspire to dance for professional sports teams?
Jessy: Go for it! Don’t give up and continue to dance. No dream is ever ‘too big.’ You can do and be whatever you want as long as you’re willing to work.
/ Writer Katelyn Murphy is an editorial intern with akronlife. She is a senior at KSU working on her bachelor’s in magazine journalism.
E-mail them to editor Abby Cymerman at firstname.lastname@example.org.