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Coronado Grad to Dance on Sideline at Super Bowl

By Adam Zuvanich
Avalanche-Journal

travashacoltsMiami might be the hottest spot on the planet this week, and Travasha Winfrey has been at the center of the sizzle.

The Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader has been busy with guest appearances and photo shoots since arriving in South Florida on Tuesday, and she’s done her fair share of shopping and lounging on the beach. Winfrey also has taken advantage of Miami’s night life. She was a VIP at a party hosted by the Kardashians, and she’s mingled with countless other celebrities and famous athletes, including former Dallas Cowboys Terrell Owens and Deion Sanders.

Winfrey figures to have even more fun today, when she’ll perform on the field during Super Bowl XLIV between the Colts and New Orleans Saints.

“Right now it’s, like, surreal. I don’t know how to explain it,” said Winfrey, who even got a tattoo to commemorate the occasion. “I’m just kind of in a dream, just passing along slowly. I think it won’t hit me until I walk out on that field and look up and realize I’m at Super Bowl XLIV.”

It’s already been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the 2006 Coronado graduate, but it nearly passed her by. Winfrey considered not making the trip to Miami with the rest of the Colts cheerleaders, because her heart is back home in Lubbock.

Winfrey’s grandmother, Priscilla Gilmore, died of breast cancer on Jan. 28. Her funeral was Wednesday in Lubbock, and Winfrey would have been there if not for the blessing of her family.

“She was really struggling with coming back (or not), because it’s a big opportunity in Miami,” said Winfrey’s mother, Betty Gilmore. “Her grandpa actually called her and told her that this is what her grandmother would have wanted. I know it relieved her a little bit, but I know her heart is still here.”

The 21-year-old Winfrey, who visited her grandmother last month, said she makes it back to Lubbock about four times a year and still keeps in touch with some of her friends from Coronado. She also stays plenty busy in Indianapolis, where she’s more than an NFL Cheerleader.

Winfrey is a college student at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis, where she’s majoring in tourism, conventions and events management, and she teaches at Butler University’s Jordan Academy of Dance and at the Indy Dance Club. She’s also delved into modeling, acting and singing.

“It’s just so exciting,” said Winfrey, who appeared on the Price Is Right game show during a summer vacation to Los Angeles. “I just don’t want it to stop. It’s like a roller coaster that keeps going up.”

Her part-time job with the Colts has been a highlight, and it gave Winfrey the chance to tour Europe and the Middle East last year while entertaining American soldiers. But she knows she can’t roam the sidelines forever, saying, “It’s one of those things where you reach your prime pretty fast.”

Winfrey said she aspires to be a model or actress, and her passion for performing was evident early on. Her mother said she used to walk around the kitchen using a spoon as a microphone, and Winfrey was often working on dance moves and trying to emulate performers such as Beyonce.

“This is what she’s always loved,” Gilmore said. “She’s made us very, very proud – not just with cheering for the Colts but overall. She’s been a great kid.

“She’s living, I guess, the beginning of her dream. I know it’s just the beginning.”

Speaking of beginnings, Winfrey’s were fairly humble. She was a cheerleader at Irons Junior High but not at Coronado, where she tried out twice for the pom squad but didn’t make it.

Instead she became a mascot for the Mustangs – “I was the first and pretty sure the only mascot to be homecoming queen,” Winfrey said – and she also played basketball and volleyball and ran track. She participated in beauty pageants as well, winning a crown as Miss Teen North Texas.

Winfrey said her experience with the Coronado pom squad made her hesitant about trying out with the Colts cheerleading squad, but after spending two years on the dance team at IUPUI and receiving constant encouragement from her parents, she worked up the nerve to give it a shot.

According the Theresa Pottratz, the Colts’ cheerleading coordinator, Winfrey was an immediate hit because of her dancing ability and personality.

“I never thought I would be doing dancing as my profession. I couldn’t even make the Coronado pom squad,” said Winfrey, who has survived two, fiercely competitive tryouts with the Colts. “It made me persevere for more, and I’m doing a lot now.”

Now Winfrey is living her dream, and she’s only one Colts win away from earning a Super Bowl ring. But if the Colts beat the Saints today for their second championship in four years, Winfrey might have to keep that ring under lock and key.

“If she does get a Super Bowl ring, I’m trying to see if I can bribe her to give it to her mother,” Gilmore joked. “So far, it’s not working.”

[Travasha at Colts.com]

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