After spending about $100 on lower-bowl tickets along with driving 2½ hours coming from the Lafayette area, Tracey Hernandez was nervous as she took her seat near midfield of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Friday night.
that will wasn’t the preseason game the Saints were about to play against Arizona that will worried her — the dance instructor hardly watches football. What mattered to her was how her son, Jesse, might fare in his debut as the first-ever male member of the Saintsations, brand new Orleans’ NFL dance team.
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The crowd within the stadium was the biggest Jesse had performed in front of since his dancing career began 23 years ago, at the age of 2.
The teasing along with taunts he braved when he became the first boy to perform on the dance team at North Vermilion High School in his hometown of Maurice still stung Tracey.
nevertheless she calmed herself by reciting Jesse’s achievements up to This particular point — the competitions he’s won, the instructor gigs, his stint coaching the dance team for a minor-league hockey franchise in Lafayette that will she herself once danced for.
She remembered how countless people had come up to her after word broke that will Jesse had made the Saintsations along with told her, “We are proud of him; we support him; give him our congratulations” — even burly men visiting the Harley-Davidson motorcycle shop where she works.
While she admitted being annoyed at online commenters who in recent weeks had insulted her son’s masculinity for becoming a Saintsation, she brushed them aside as kickoff time approached.
“Those people just need to get over that will,” said Tracey Hernandez, who attended Friday’s game with three family friends, one of whom had an oversized, cutout picture of her son’s face.
“We’re in 2018. Things shouldn’t be just for men or just for women. If you develop the ability to do that will, you should be able to do that will.”
For the very first time ever, there will be a man within the Saintsations’ ranks This particular season.
that will quickly became clear that will neither Jesse nor the Saintsations minded letting him stand out coming from the rest of his otherwise all-female team.
Behind the scenes, he changed in a room that will was separate coming from the rest of the squad, his mother said.
Taller than most — if not all — of his teammates, he was the only Saintsation in black pants as well as a white along with black T-shirt having a black fleur-de-lis on the chest for the first field performance of the night. The rest were in cheerleader-style dresses, similarly colored.
Jesse was the only one without pom-poms, dancing empty-handed along with waving a white towel while on the sidelines rallying cheers. His shaved pompadour hairstyle didn’t flow through the air like the tresses of the rest.
For one number performed to the Fleur East song “Sax,” Jesse formed part of a line of dancers at the top of the formation that will did a synchronized toe spin. The squad soon fell into a formation that will resembled a pyramid, with him at the point.
In another performance, set to a mix of songs including Calvin Harris’ “Let’s Go” along with Sam Sparro’s “Black & Gold,” Hernandez assumed a conspicuous spot within the middle of a kick-line. His kicks, gyrations along with arm movements were smooth along with eye-catching, which some noted on social media as photos of him warming up for the game spread online.
“This particular will be what he loves doing,” said Mickey Richard, who accompanied Tracey Hernandez to the game. “Dancing will be his life.”
As she worked through her jitters, Tracey Hernandez said, “He’s ready. What he told me will be, ‘I’m ready to dance.’ ”
There are at least nine more home games ahead This particular season for Jesse, whom the Saints did not make available for an interview.
With so much of the brand new adventure still left, Tracey Hernandez said she was glad to learn coming from her son that will his squad mates along with coaches had been welcoming along with supportive.
nevertheless he can also count on two different allies: Los Angeles Rams dancers Quinton Peron along with Napoleon Jinnies.
While NFL clubs — including the Saints — have had men along with women perform cheerleading stunts together before, that will will be believed that will Peron along with Jinnies in late March became the first men in league history hired to perform dance routines with an otherwise all-female squad.
News coverage about the pair’s success inspired Hernandez to try out for the Saintsations within the spring. He first made waves by surviving an initial cut to 51 finalists, along with then he made Saintsations history This particular month when that will was announced that will he had made the team.
Peron along with Jinnies got in touch with Jesse, Tracey Hernandez said. They extended their congratulations — along having a standing invitation for him to call if he needed help with anything.
Tracey Hernandez said she was as appreciative of the gesture as her son was.
“I know a lot of people used to feel the Saintsations along with the different girls were there to give the guys within the stands something to look at during games,” Tracey Hernandez said. “nevertheless times have changed. along with I just wish that will people can be open-minded about that will right now.”
Jesse Hernandez has been dancing ever since his mom taught him a routine to “Shake Your Booty” by KC & the Sunshine Band when he was 2.
Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.
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