For Buffalo Jill Ashley, becoming a calendar cover girl has always been a dream she hoped to achieve.
"It's a goal I never imagined would come true," said Ashley, this year's 2013-2014 Jills Cheerleader Swimsuit Calendar Cover girl. "With the guidance and support from Stephanie, the Director of the Jills, Fisher Creative Image photography and my fellow teammates coaching me along the way, they really know how to make you feel beautiful."
Ashley has been a Bills fan her entire life. Growing up just minutes away from Ralph Wilson Stadium helped her bleed red white and blue from an early age.
"Orchard Park is my hometown, and having the Buffalo Bills here is such a privilege," said Ashley. "I drive by the stadium every day and it's an honor to be a part of the organization."
Ashley is Co-Captain of the Buffalo Jills ambassador squad. Ambassadors are the Jills that fans meet right before games in the Bills Healthy Zone Fieldhouse and outside the stadium. Throughout the games, these Jills venture around the stadium, visiting fans in the suites, taking pictures with fans and cheering on the team. Ambassadors also have a strong presence in the Buffalo community- volunteering for charities and helping improve the city of Buffalo.
"It is such an honor to be a Co-Captain because I have the chance to help Rookies and returning Jills 'learn the ropes' of being an NFL Cheerleader," Ashley told buffalobills.com. "The Buffalo Jills organization is a big family that keeps growing each year with the addition of new Rookies. Captains and management provide continuous love and support throughout the season."
She found out that she was in the running for the cover during Jills Week on buffalobills.com. She had a hard time containing her excitement during the week leading up to the big reveal.
"I could not sleep at all," Ashley said. "Each night I was so excited to wake up and see the gorgeous pictures in the morning. We were so lucky to get a sneak peek of our photographs because we usually have to wait until the release of the calendar to see them. This year, with the amazing opportunity on buffalobills.com, we were able to see several of the pictures from each of the different locations that we were photographed. The week was full of suspense but it was all worth it in the end!"
Ashley found out she was the cover during the Jills annual "Victory Party" on Lake Erie. After some rookie initiation games, it was time for the big reveal.
"Steph told us by lining up all five photographs of the finalists on a table," said Ashley. "The pictures were all covered with towels. Our photographers, Fisher Creative Image Photography, hair stylist Charlene Fadel, former Jill Omarlla, Nichole and Stephanie, were each holding a photograph. They started at the opposite end and worked their way down the line of the photographs until they reached the last two held by Nichole and Stephanie. These last pictures were the back and front cover. At this time, Gabby and I were holding hands. Nichole raised the towel and Gabby's picture was revealed as the back cover. Then, Stephanie unveiled the last picture which was mine! I was in complete shock, and couldn't stop crying!"
Ashley's photograph screams "Buffalo Bills." Anyone who looks at it from a-far knows exactly what team she's cheering for. One of the most prominent parts of the photograph is her Bills snowboard which reads in big bold red letters the famous chant, "Let's go Buffalo!"
"A couple of months prior to the photo shoot, after I knew I was going to pose in the snow, I was thinking about what I could use during my shoot to tie in the theme of the ski resort," Ashley told buffalobills.com. "I finally came up with the idea to create a vinyl graphic to put on the bottom of my snowboard! I went through a bunch of different design options but ultimately decided on the "Let's go Buffalo" across the bottom of the board. So yes, the board is real, and may or may not go in my future man cave."
Ashley has a very busy fall ahead of her. She begins Law School at the University at Buffalo this August- with the hopes of one day becoming a Corporate Attorney. Some may wonder how she will juggle it all.
"You have to have time management skills," Ashley said. "As a Jill, you become an expert at managing your time wisely and a date planner becomes your best friend. When I was a Rookie, I finished up my last year of my undergraduate degree with a 4.0 overall GPA. I guess being a closet nerd isn't such a bad thing after all."
It's true that beauty and brains mix well together.
Although the Jills front cover girl was a much anticipated event- the squad has been making an equally significant deal out of the back cover of the calendar.
This year's back cover is Gabrielle- who had her photo taken in Siesta Key, Florida during the team's trip to the Sunshine State.
"I'm so excited to have been selected for the back cover this year," said second year veteran Gabrielle. "I couldn't believe it when I found out. I'm so happy. It's a dream come true!"
Although the calendar isn't officially in stores until late August, fans can pre-order their Jills cheerleader swimsuit calendar by clicking here.
Congratulations to all Buffalo Jills on a successful calendar and good luck this season!