If you’ve attended a Toronto Argonauts football game recently, you may have seen Jackie Perez interviewing fans and players at games or even cheering with the squad. Jackie joined the Toronto Argos family in 2011 where she started as a cheerleader for the CFL team. She eventually made her way to Captain of the ladies who help bring energy to the game. Today, Jackie is known as the game day host in the team’s new home at BMO Field.
Born in Manila, Philippines and raised in Mississauga, Canada, Jackie discovered her love and passion for sports at a very early age. Growing up, she participated in competitive dance, baseball, basketball and volleyball. Jackie then graduated from university in Media Communications and Journalism.
You joined the Argos family as a cheerleader…how did you get into that?
I joined the Argos Cheerleaders in 2011. Sports and dance has always been a part of my life at an early age and to be able to be part of both through the Toronto Argos was really a great opportunity. Auditions happen every year in early Spring and rehearsals take place twice a week. The Argos Cheerleaders are made up of 25-30 women with auditions taking place in early Spring. Practices take place twice a week and there’s 10 home games in the regular season from June to early November with playoffs and the Grey Cup taking place in November.
One of the reasons I wanted to join the team was because of the community of involvement the team does throughout the years. This includes local events, charities, and programs such as the Argos Huddle Up Bullying Prevention Program.
Of course, game day is so much fun. You get to interact with the fans who are like family, you get to cheer on the Double Blue right from the sidelines and you have the chance to go to the Grey Cup Festivals that take place in different Canadian cities every year. Last year it was in Winnipeg, this year it’s in Toronto! The last time the festival was here it was 2012, the 100th Grey Cup and Toronto won. To be part of the team in this historic moment was so amazing.
What do you want to people to know about cheerleading?
Being an Argos Cheerleader, or a CFL cheerleader goes beyond performing on the sidelines. Being part of the team gave me a chance to be a role model in the community to young children and represent a great team and sport. My time as a cheerleader not only gave me the opportunity to strengthen my skills both personally and career-wise, but allowed me to forge great friendships and be part of a sisterhood that dates back to the 1930s. You see generations of women that have been part of this team and each and every one of them are confident, supportive, hard-working individuals.
Is there an official Argos cheer?
No official “Argos Cheer” but if you’re at an Argos game, just let out an AAARGOOOOOOS!
Now you’re a game day host…how do you prep for a game? Any rituals?
I get my script and rundown a day or two before each game and I make sure to go over over it and make my notes.
Pregame ritual: I pack everything I need the night before and get a good night’s sleep. My routine is pretty similar to when I was a cheerleader- I arrive a few hours before the gates open, do a walk around and slowly get into the “game day” zone. We have a few meetings to go over the running times, the promotions we’re running and anything special events/guests for that specific game.
What do you love about football? and the Argos?
Canadian football is different than American (bigger balls, longer field, less downs, etc.) and with nine teams in the Canadian Football League, it’s amazing to be part of such a Canadian sport. The Argos is a team I not only get to cheer for, but represent! To witness a Grey Cup win in Toronto, travel through Canada for the Double Blue, go to a new outdoor stadium and once again host the Grey Cup in 2016, it’s something I will always cherish.
Best part about being a game day host?
I get to still connect with fans and be part of the action, but in a different way. I bring my personality to every game to engage fans and get them pumped up through the game. When I’m getting fans to make some noise, to hear the cheers echo throughout BMO Field is so cool to hear.
Can you tell us more about Toronto Argonauts’ Huddle Up Bullying Prevention program?
The Toronto Argonauts’ Huddle Up Bullying Prevention program was one of the reasons I joined the Argos Cheerleaders in 2011. Through the program, I am able to speak up against bullying and empower kids with the tools, the confidence and the encouragement to tackle bullying in a positive way. One of the sessions offered in the Huddle Up program has an Argos cheerleader meet with females from grades 4 to 10 to talk about social bullying as well as self– esteem, supporting one another and how to make a positive impact within their school and community. I’ve been a part of it for five years now and to see how much the program has grown and the affect it has on the students who are involved in this is amazing to witness.
You’re also anchor and host on Rogers TV’s popular Insauga.com LIVE and have interviewed many notables in the city. Any funny stories?
I’ve been a host for InSauga for about 2 years now. Our first year at Celebration Square was during the World Cup and I was right in the heart of the action surrounded by hundreds of soccer fans. I was doing a live hit with a fan dressed as their country’s national bird and people kept jumping into the shot singing and dancing because their team just won. You couldn’t help but join the celebration.
We also had a rib eating competition I was part of going up against a wrestler and a musician. For one minute, which felt like the longest minute ever, we chowed down on ribs. I don’t think it was the most attractive thing to see. But it was delicious and fun!
Your favourite Restaurants in the city?
So hard to choose! But if we’re talking brunch, Portland Variety is one of my go-to places. Their huevos or their lemon ricotta pancakes are my absolute favourites.
Your favourite concession food?
NACHOS! Or, Garlic Fries.
Your drink of choice?
Gotta stay hydrated so I’m going with the good old fashioned, H2O with lemon slices.
Your favourite thing to do when you have downtime?
Sleep. Travel. Repeat.
What’s on your bucket list?
I’d like to do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu!
Thanks so much Jackie! We’ll come say hi next time we’re there!
For Toronto Argos game schedule and tickets, check out www.argonauts.ca