Dance instructor Jesse Hernandez blazed a trail last year by becoming the first male cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints, and one of the first in the NFL. The Maurice, Louisiana native quickly became a sideline favorite for many Saints fans. New Orleans Magazine and Hernandez take a look back at his rookie year, which lessons he learned, and what’s ahead as he goes into his sophomore year cheering on the black and gold.
Q: How long have you been dancing and interested in dancing as a career? I have been dancing since the age of 2. My mom was a dance instructor and needed a “little bit” in one of her routines and from there I fell in love with dance.
Q: What was your favorite moment from your first year? There were so many favorite moments from my first year on the team it’s hard to choose one! From my very first game to my last game in the Dome, it was all a dream come true. Feeling the cold air in the Dome and hearing all the fans cheering on our boys sends a rush of excitement through my body. I couldn’t have asked for a better season last year as my rookie year and now I’m ready to cheer those boys all the way to Miami for the Super Bowl!
Q: What are some lessons you learned during your first year? I’ve learned to sit back and take it all in. At the age of 26 and being in dance leadership positions, it was hard for me to take a step back and just dance. Towards the middle of the season, and now this season, I’m enjoying every little thing that comes along with being a part of this incredible team. Last season went by so quickly, and once it ended so abruptly, I missed dancing and seeing my teammates on a daily basis.
Q: What advice do you have for the new cheerleaders for 2019, specifically the two new male cheerleaders? To my teammates and my new brothers on the team: Just enjoy it! Take every opportunity and run with it. Do everything with a smile on your face; take a lot of pictures because you will never have another season with the same teammates again. These memories will last a lifetime.
Q: Do you have a special routine that you follow to get prepped before each game? Before every game the team gets in a circle and we pray and say some positive things before we go out on the field. Right before we run out for our pregame performance myself and another teammate have a little dance shimmy shake thing we do to get our nerves out!
Q: Are the Saints going all the way this year? OHHH ABSOLUTLEY! See you guys in Miami and we will be returning with a ring!
Born/raised: Maurice, Louisiana
Favorite food/restaurant: Greek/ Poseidon’s (Lafayette)
Best TV guilty pleasure: Currently rewatching “How to Get Away with Murder”
Favorite book: “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes
Well most people know this about me but I’m obsessed with Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson. Nineties child all the way!