Happy game week, Falcons Fans! With the new week brings the official start of the NFL regular season, and I couldn't be more excited! I'll be in Chicago when the Falcons take on the Bears, and can't wait to report back on everything that goes on! In the meantime, I'm going to continue my interview series. This week I sat down with rookie Melissa and talked to her about dance, dreams and Italian ice.
Sara D.: I know you're not from Georgia. Me neither! Tell me about growing up in New York and how you ended up here in Atlanta.
Melissa Z.: Woo-hoo for out-of-staters! I grew up in Long Island and it definitely shaped me to be the person I am today. I lived in Valley Stream, which is one of the first suburbs outside the five boroughs, up until two years ago. I loved spending the school year at dance class or ice skating lessons, and my summers were always at the beach. I was an active kid, which meant that I was outside playing on my block for a majority of my childhood. It wasn't until I turned17 that I was allowed to drive in the state of New York, so I spent most of my days walking to and from school, rollerblading to get a slice of pizza, or riding my bike to visit friends and family who were never far from reach. Growing up in New York gave me thick skin, as well as a great sense of independence and respect for all kinds of people. I have cousins who live in Johns Creek, and when we finally visited, my parents fell in love with Georgia. My dad was able to transfer his mechanic position to work in the Atlanta airport and my mom is now able to work her insurance job out of our home for her New York office. It also helped that I am totally fine with change, so it all worked out! My sister just recently made the move to Georgia a few weeks ago, so we are one big happy (reunited) family again!
SD: Your family has an unusual business. Tell me all about Italian Ice!
MZ: Oh man, do not get me started! Italian ices are a delicious and refreshing light desert, and it is sort of a cross between ice cream, gelato and sherbet. It is in no way, shape, or form, a Sno-Cone so don't get it twisted! Italian ices are very popular in New York, and my dad and I have been stunned that there are little to no Italian ice businesses in Georgia! As of right now, we make Italian ices out of our garage and we have almost 20 flavors perfected. Some of these flavors include: Chocolate (my personal favorite), Lemon, Cherry, Orange Creamsicle, Peanut Butter, Apple, and Coconut Rum (yes, with actual rum). We also make a Coffee ice cream that is to die for! We are in the process of giving away free samples for feedback purposes and are looking to open the storefront in the spring!
SD: You have a sister who just made the Hawks — a dancing duo! Tell me about what it's like to have your sister be a pro cheerleader too.
MZ: I am so thrilled that my sister, Dana, and I are both dancing professionally. This has been a dream that we have shared for many years. I am extremely proud of my big sister for making the Atlanta Hawks Cheerleaders, and I am looking forward to going to every game so I can to support her!
SD: I know you're a student at Kennesaw State University and I know you were on their dance team — how hard was it to leave that behind?
MZ: The KSU Dance Team has been a huge part of my life since I have been living in Georgia. It has prepared me in more ways than one for my endeavors with AFC. I do not feel as if I am entirely leaving it behind because I have taken so much of that team with me already. I run into my old teammates and coach around campus often, and I even attend practices and have impromptu workout sessions with them on my downtime. I will be attending as many KSU events this year to be an active Alumni for a great athletic program. I will miss performing at basketball games and competing at this year's National dance team competition for sure, though. Owls, Owls, hoot hoot!
SD: That's great you're still involved, I'm sure the team appreciates it! Ok, quick! What is your favorite part of being an AFC rookie?
MZ: Receiving continuous encouragement and motivation to do better by my captain and the vets in my line! Not to mention my rookie class is amazing!
SD: Any fun personality quirks you want to share here on AtlantaFalcons.com to help fans get to know you better?
MZ: I must say that I can do pretty good imitations of people (mostly of my mother and the classic "mobster" Italian). I am also borderline obsessed with stand-up comedians, and I have the tendency to narrate my life in my head, and I cannot sit still... ever!
SD: Oh, boy. One day I'll have to get your impression of me one day! All right, last question: What are you most excited about this season?
MZ: I am most excited to perform a halftime show! My smile will not come off my face for a week. I have fingers crossed for a Super Bowl win as well, of course!
Stay tuned for my blog all about the Falcons' first game in Chicago!