As the late-November weather got cooler, some members of The ROAR went further south to Jamaica, but not for vacation. They went to do what they do best – put on a show.
The ROAR manager Christy Stechman Zynda took captains Sunny, Phillipa, Kristen and Tiffany, along with team members Tisha and Emily D., to the Beaches resort in Negril, Jamaica. The purpose of the trip was to put on a camp and variety show for the resort guests from November 29 to December 2. The women also made time in their schedule to visit the Ricketts Street Early Childhood Institution that is sponsored by the resort.
"We received an invitation from the Beaches resort to come down to do a camp for their guests," said Zynda. "They also wanted us to do a variety show and visit the school they sponsored. Preparing for it required intense rehearsals, but it was a neat experience for us because they were so welcoming."
With less than two weeks to prepare, the group was busy rehearsing for the show, and also worked in the Junior ROAR camp for the guests' children during the two-day period.
"It was a hard work," Zynda said. "We had to put together an hour-long show with the dances we feature on game day that are only about a minute long. We arrived at the resort around 6:30 p.m. and our cheerleaders were in uniform for the show by 8:30 p.m., so we had little time to get settled in to our new surroundings."
"In the end, we came up with 21 dances for the show and were able to teach the Junior ROAR portion of our halftime show to the children so they could join us on stage. We also challenged the audience with NFL trivia and had resort guests come up on stage to do their best touchdown dances. Guests from all over the world showed their best moves to a full audience. It was a fun time for all."
After the show The ROAR left the resort to visit the school, which proved to be a learning experience for the group. The visit was one of the highlights of the trip. The small school had very limited resources and housed 39 students ranging in age from three to six.
"There was one specific little boy we noticed kept looking in the window," Zynda said. "Tiffany asked, 'Do you go here?' thinking he was just outside doing something for his class, but he said no that he could not afford to go to school. This was a little boy who didn't have much, but said he looks in the window everyday. He wants to learn and be a part of it so badly, but his family can't afford it so he just watches through the window to see what the children are doing.
"It was eye opening to see how little they have to work with, yet they had so much pride and enthusiasm. It was important for our cheerleaders to see, especially our teachers (Tiffany, Kristen and Emily D.) in the group. We plan to work with the school in the future, by writing letters and sending care packages. We want to help the children learn because they are having so much fun doing it and they are so deserving of additional resources."
Despite having to plan in such short time, Zynda and The ROAR were able to put on two successful shows, two youth camps and visit the local school, all while being ambassadors for the Jaguars. They also learned so much from the people of Jamaica.
"Everybody was so friendly and the staff at the resort was wonderful. Most of them grew up in Jamaica and have lived there their entire lives," Zynda explained. "They shared with us how vibrant their culture is. They greet everyone with great energy and tell wonderful stories. We want to have another chance to go back and work with them again soon. It was a great experience for everyone who was involved and the Beaches resort was spectacular."