Updated: Feb 1
I was excited about my trip to Orlando for Pro Bowl weekend even though I knew it would be different traveling without Brittany this year. Thankfully one of my dearest friends, Bianca, was able to drive up from Boca Raton to spend the weekend with me. I’m going to start with the absolutely most devastating and tragic part of the trip because I would rather end with positive thoughts of the amazing Pro Bowl Cheerleaders than follow the sequence of events of the weekend that ended in such a heartbreaking way. Bianca and I arrived at Camping World Stadium for the Pro Bowl game and got to our seats just in time to watch the Pro Bowl cheerleaders line up for their pregame routine. I would have been so salty if we missed this performance because this is the one dance routine that can’t be executed at a fan appearance on a stage – it absolutely needs a football field! This routine features all 26 women with a carefully orchestrated, constantly moving formation that gives each cheerleader a special moment to make her way up to the 50-yard line to showcase her skills while her name and team is announced for everyone in the audience. I saw double pirouettes, leaps, and countless high kicks, all with sass and pizzazz and all that good stuff. Some really milked the hell out of their moment and I couldn’t blame them one bit because I would have wanted to do it too!
I put my phone down from recording the performance for our YouTube channel, took my seat after the national anthem and was excited to take it all in – the perfect weather, great view of the sidelines, and good company. That’s when my neighbor seated in the row behind me shared the news of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash from a notification he received on his phone. We were all glued to our phones in complete disbelief looking for “official” news reports after seeing some of the false rumors – just hoping that somehow all of this was just not true. The announcers held a moment of silence for all of the victims with a picture of Kobe on the big screen that led to the crowd chanting “Kobe”... but then moments after game play resumed. From that point, it was nearly impossible to focus on watching the Pro Bowl Cheerleaders living their best lives out there or the game itself. We recorded a couple more performances, but I decided to leave at the start of 4th quarter because my heart had dropped so low that it just didn’t seem right to be there. That is probably one small regret because I traveled all the way from Seattle to Orlando to support the Pro Bowl Cheerleaders and really wanted to capture as much as I could. At least this year I made it to the actual Pro Bowl game, next year I’ll stay all the way until the end and find a way to get sideline credentials so I can get even better footage of the Pro Bowl Cheerleaders dancing their hearts out.
How is it that watching someone dance and perform with joy and passion can somehow transfer all of that good energy onto you? I know that’s part of our job as professional cheerleaders to spread positivity and enthusiasm with fans with every appearance and performance. But what is it about dance that makes it really work that way? It’s the same feeling I get watching Ellen DeGeneres and her studio audience dance on The Ellen Show or my kids dance in the Alvin Ailey Camps they’ve attended. That last night in Orlando, I was reminded that dance has the ability to transform your feelings into happiness regardless of what you may be going through. After saying goodbye to Bianca, I was alone in my hotel room feeling so heartsick trying to process everything and reflecting on the weekend. As I was watching the Pro Bowl Cheerleaders dance in all the videos I uploaded, I eventually started feeling better and even smiling as I thought about just a few of the women who really stood out to me over the weekend. Here are my randomly positive thoughts in no particular order:
Jozie from the Denver Broncos – you are an absolute joy to watch perform, so playful and entertaining with just an extra bit of spunk that shows how much fun you’re having out there.
Kali from the Minnesota Vikings – you were so captivating during the game, your energetic presence and stylish flair you put on the simplest move like a pivot step to turn around to face the field literally gave me life! So extra and I was here for it all!
All of the beautiful ladies from NFC Line 1 were my favorite line to watch dance together – Brittany from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Davis from the Arizona Cardinals, Holly from the Detroit Lions, Annalise from the Carolina Panthers, Ceci from the Washington Redskins, Caroline from the New Orleans Saints and Kelsey from the Seattle Seahawks! You ladies had amazing energy together and complimented each other so well like you had been dancing together all season long.
Each of the NFL Pro Bowl Cheerleaders did an amazing job representing their teams and looked like they were having the time of their lives doing it. I’m glad that I was able to go and share a bit of the action with everyone. I’m looking forward to watching the 49ers Gold Rush Cheerleaders and the Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleaders live out their dreams at the Super Bowl in Miami this weekend. Dance larger than life ladies and show everyone how happy you are to be on the world’s biggest stage - you just might uplift some heavy hearts this weekend.