Friday, December 04, 2020

Person of the Week

From NFL Sidelines to the Connecticut Shoreline

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Coming off a four-year stint on the New England Patriots’ cheer squad, Clinton’s Alex Brandy challenges many people’s preconceptions of a professional cheerleader. Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News

Coming off a four-year stint on the New England Patriots’ cheer squad, Clinton’s Alex Brandy challenges many people’s preconceptions of a professional cheerleader. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)

In 2014, during her first time skiing, Alex Brandy severely injured her ACL.

“I was told by doctors I would never dance again,” Alex recalls.

To say the doctors were wrong would be an understatement. Alex, a Clinton resident, just finished her fourth and final season as a cheerleader for the New England Patriots and is now starting her new career in the personal fitness arena.

Alex began dancing when she was three years old. It’s an activity that runs in the family—her mother and sister are also dancers. That tradition took a new direction when Alex was studying dance at Dean College in Massachusetts—not far from Foxborough, the home of the New England Patriots—and she became friends with some girls who were trying out for the Patriots in 2015.

“I’ve always been a fan—not so much the cheerleaders, but of the Patriots—and followed the team so I wanted to try out, too,” Alex says.

Coming off her recent ski injury, Alex didn’t make the team, but says, “That made me want it even more and I rehabbed hard and made it the next year.”

As a member of the Patriots’ cheer squad, Alex had to attend two practices per week that lasted between 4 and 10 hours. On game days, she had to show up to the stadium five hours early to undergo a three-hour rehearsal for the game.

“It’s a part-time job with a full-time commitment,” she says of cheerleading life.

For two years, Alex was a captain on the team.

“We’re in charge of helping anyone who needs help and leading workout and calling out the choreography,” she says. “It was a big honor for me.”

Alex chose a good time to become a cheerleader with the Patriots—quarterback Tom Brady and company were exceptionally successful during Alex’s tenure as a cheerleader. During Alex’s four years on the team, the Patriots made the Super Bowl three times and won two of them. In fact, Alex says she had the best seat in the house for the Patriots’ improbable 2017 comeback against the Falcons.

“I was about five feet away from the winning touchdown when it was scored,” she says.

Fun memories aside, Alex’s favorite parts of being on the Patriots didn’t come on the field.

“My favorite part was the charities. I got to do some very special things,” Alex says with a smile.

Alex helped to run a camp for kids with mental disabilities and was able to visit the Hartford Children’s hospital.

“Helping give back is something I really like and it is very special to do it through that platform,” Alex says.

Alex had to balance working full time with her duties with the Patriots. Despite all the commitment, NFL cheerleaders aren’t full-time employees. Alex says that some of her squad members were teachers and engineers in their full-time work.

There are several misconceptions about the life of an NFL cheerleader, according to Alex. For one thing, she wasn’t always interested in cheerleading. She points out that most NFL squads are actually dance teams, not cheer teams, and so focus more on the dance moves than the stunts for which cheer squads have gained fame. For another, she has met some of the players at charity events, but she says its more of a colleague-type relationship and she didn’t socialize with them as friends.

She’s faced other assumptions, as well.

“For me personally, I find when people know what I do before they meet me, they assume I’m ditzy or think I’m going to be snotty or not serious about I do,” Alex says.

Her latest venture reflects the seriousness she brings. After her ski injury, when it looked like she wouldn’t be able to dance again, she was forced to consider a new career path.

“I’ve always been very active and I needed something that can keep me moving,” explains Alex.

To do so, she earned her certification in personal training. Now that her time with the Patriots is over, Alex has started a new business, Ascend Experience, LLC, to help people along the shoreline and beyond get fit. The premise of Ascend is that Alex will travel to clients and train them at their homes rather than making them come meet her at a gym.

“In this era of DoorDash, on-demand movies, and Peapod, why not fitness, too?” asks Alex.

The idea for her business came as she was training someone virtually through her iPad. Alex says she realized she could train people “in a way that is attainable for everyone.”

“It keeps me moving and it’s what I love,” Alex says of her new journey.

Alex grew up in Terryville and recently moved to Clinton to be closer to her family. In her spare time, she like to do activities that feed into her healthy lifestyle, such as cooking, baking, and hiking.

As a next goal, Alex wants to hike the New England 4,000 footers—all the mountains in New England that have an elevation above 4,000 feet.

“I have some work to do to get there,” she says with a laugh.


Eric O’Connell covers news for Clinton for Zip06. Email Eric at e.oconnell@shorepublishing.com.

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