Monday, February 09, 2009
More photos here
Buccaneers.com/Feb 05, 2009 - As fans seated in the stands went wild, a group of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleaders stationed along the sideline erupted into a chorus of cheers, celebrating a deep pass that produced a dramatic touchdown.
The man who threw the pass won’t be found on the Bucs’ roster any time soon, though his name is quite recognizable for NFL fans. And the venue in which he was competing was a bit smaller than Raymond James Stadium.
Instead, Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon’s tight spiral for a score came as part of a Tazon Latino celebrity flag football game hosted at the NFL Experience last Wednesday night, just one of a large number of events at which the Buccaneers Cheerleaders made during an appearance during a busy but exciting Super Bowl week.
While the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers spent the week making media appearances and practicing for the Steelers' eventual title game victory on Sunday, the Bucs cheerleaders participated in more than 30 events in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLIII.
One of those appearances came at the celebrity flag football game last Wednesday, an event that paired up teams comprised of NFL alumni and Latin American celebrities in a friendly contest that was aired on Telemundo.
Former NFL stars Moon, Eric Dickerson, Raghib Ismail, Marcus Allen, Fuad Reveiz, Tim Brown, Vinny Testaverde and Thurman Thomas were split among the two teams, while celebrity participants included Julissa Bermudez, Jencarlos Canela, Vanessa Hauc, Mauricio Islas, Renato Lopez, Aylin Mujica, Monica Noguera and Carlos Santos.
“The flag football game was really awesome,” said Sahara Sears, one of the Bucs cheerleaders that performed at the event. “It was great seeing all the alumni, the Hall of Famers, and also to see all the Latino celebrities too. I actually just recently got back from Mexico City touring with NFL Mexico to promote the Super Bowl being in Tampa. I saw a lot of the same camera crews and Telemundo was there filming, so we were saying, 'Hi,' to all the crew.
“Even seeing some of the celebrities, it was a little more meaningful and I was a little more star-struck because I just got back from there and I saw them on TV on soap operas or hosting TV shows. So that part was really cool. It was such a cute little game. It was very casual and laid-back and I think the fans loved it. A lot of people turned out.”
The Cheerleaders also made appearances on a local TV station’s morning show, at a Sprint retail store, at radio row in the Super Bowl media center and at various celebrity events, to name a few. They also made charity appearances, ran a cheer clinic at the NFL Experience and interacted with students and guests at local schools and other events.
A handful of Bucs cheerleaders even spent the week in London, England promoting the Bucs’ upcoming October matchup in Wembley Stadium as well as hyping up Sunday’s Super Bowl contest. (More on that trip below)
In all, it was a long week, but one with a clear purpose – representing the Buccaneers organization and the NFL as part of the Bay area’s efforts to host the league’s signature event.
“That was the most exciting part about it, that we could be ambassadors for the NFL and our team by promoting the Buccaneers and the NFL at the same time,” said Jeni Summers, a six-year veteran of the squad. “There were so many great things going on in the area that we wanted to make sure we could be involved in every bit of the Super Bowl activities. It was an honor and it was very exciting. It was cool to be an ambassador for the NFL, period.”
Added Sears: “I think it was very important as the host team that we were very involved in the Super Bowl. I think Tampa was represented very well by itself and I think that we accented it by going to events, welcoming people to our town and thanking them for coming to Tampa. It was really exciting that Tampa could hold the Super Bowl, but the really neat thing is that we got to go out and do events like the celebrity flag football game, calendar signings or cheer clinics at the NFL Experience. This was an experience like none other and very exciting. Very busy, but very exciting.”
Sandy Charboneau, the Bucs’ cheerleading manager, was perhaps busiest of all as she was tasked with organizing the squad’s schedule throughout the Super Bowl week.
But, like the members of the team, Charboneau recognized the amazing opportunity that the cheerleaders were presented with to put their best foot forward on behalf of the Bay area, the Buccaneers organization and the NFL.
“I think because we were the host city in Tampa, for us to be present at all the events around here was really important. We showed that we’re supporting the Super Bowl, we’re supporting the NFL and we’re supporting the other teams. We were not in the game, but we were being a good host.
“Planning all the schedules and having people calling us was pretty daunting. I started weeks ago, and people were calling nonstop. The phone was ringing nonstop. The amount of events the girls did in a week-and-a-half was probably equal to two months’ worth of appearances for us normally. The cheerleaders also have full-time jobs, so coordinating everything was pretty difficult, but it worked out really well and the girls were willing to do everything. We also had five girls in London promoting our game in October and also promoting the Super Bowl. We had 31 cheerleaders and every single girl was busy.
“It was a crazy, long week, but it was important to represent the organization and the NFL.”
While the rest of their teammates were busy making appearances in the Bay area, five of the Bucs cheerleaders traveled overseas to London, England to do some promoting of their own.
Ayae Hamanaka, Susan Stein, Barbara Hancock, Lori Rumberg and Marlana Aref made a trip to London that coincided with the Super Bowl to promote the championship game, as well as to build hype for the Bucs’ upcoming October contest in Wembley Stadium against the New England Patriots.
While they were in England, the group of cheerleaders also paid a visit to Leyton, London to run a cheerleading workshop for youngsters at the Leyton Orient Community Sports Programme.
The hour-long session that was run in conjunction by the LOCSP and NFL UK allowed the young girls on hand to learn some cheerleading exercises and skills before watching the Bucs cheerleaders perform one of their typical game-day routines.
“I felt really excited about the class as I really like cheerleading – I couldn’t wait,” said Aliyah, a nine-year old who took part in the clinic. “The best thing about cheerleading is making the people you are cheerleading for feel they have got your support. The cheerleaders were very pretty and really nice – I am a Tampa Bay fan now.”
The Bucs cheerleaders then answered questions from the youngsters, posed for photographs and presented each of the participants with a team picture.
In all, while their promotional work took place far from Tampa and the rest of their squad, the five cheerleaders in London still did their part to put the word out about the Bucs, the Bay area and the Super Bowl.
And they’ll be back in London before they know it.
“This is my first time in London, but, coming from Florida, I love the cold,” said Stein. “The girls here today in Leyton have been excellent and did a great job. They have told us they will be starting a cheerleading club at their school now which is great news – we aim to inspire young people to set goals and work hard to achieve them.
“We all look forward to coming back to England in October.”