Pantherette Jess Gilarte wants your vote for cheerleader of the year

Penrith Pantherette Jess Gilarte is in the running for the NRL cheerleader equivalent of the Dally M Medal.

The 20-year-old from Prospect is in her third year as a cheerleader for the Panthers and is a finalist for the annual Big League Cheerleader of the Year Awards.

Gilarte said the Panthers fans were always supportive of the cheerleaders and was now asking for them to vote for her as the winner.

She will fight it out with St George Illawarra counterpart, known only as Steph, for the prestigious title.

Gilarte has always been into dancing, starting out at a school in Seven Hills when she was four years old.

Three years ago she was asked by one of her friends to go along to a try-out for the Panthers.

She said she went more for the experience, and never really expected to get in.

Gilarte said she had always been a rugby league fan, and some of the other girls in the squad were just as passionate as the crowd, often yelling and screaming during the game.

Even after a few years as a cheerleader, she still gets butterflies in her stomach at every game, but on the whole she really loves her job.

"It can be a bit nerve-racking sometimes, knowing you've got the camera right there if you make a mistake," she said.

"I've fallen over a few times, I kicked myself in the head once, but I've never really been injured."

The support from the Panthers fans always makes it a little bit easier.

She is now trying to get as much of the fans' support as possible, she has been going around handing out flyers at games and at Penrith Plaza, where she works part-time in a fashion store.

As for her opponent from the Dragons, Gilarte said she didn't even know what she looked like, so it was hard to know whether she could beat her.

While she is enjoying being a cheerleader, Gilarte really wants to be a police officer and is studying for a bachelor of policing at the University of Western Sydney in Penrith.

She will complete her degree this year and hopes to go on to the Police Academy in Goulburn next year.

Voting opens soon. To keep up-to-date on Gilarte's progress, and for information on voting, search "Jessica for Big League Cheerleader Of The Year 2015" on Facebook.

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