Caught up with a few of the Buccaneer Cheerleaders at training camp this weekend. Bookmark our album as we will be adding to it over the next couple weeks.
Our album is here
Caught up with a few of the Buccaneer Cheerleaders at training camp this weekend. Bookmark our album as we will be adding to it over the next couple weeks.
Our album is here
Buccaneer alum Sam in 2014:
As I attend games and have the wonderful opportunity to photograph and report on the cheer squads, occasionally there are moments that remind me why I so admire these talented performers. As I walked into Raymond James Stadium, the sun shined on spectators in unseasonably warm Tampa. Temperatures were in the 80s on this December afternoon, where the green of visiting Jets fanned were numerous, although not quite matching the numbers of fans wearing the apparel of the home Buccaneers. It was my first visit to a Bucs game and my first chance to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders.
I waited as I saw the squad lined up in the tunnel, awaiting the opportunity to line up for the Buccanneers’ run onto the field. As the sound system played the Black Eyes Peas “I Gotta Feeling,” the Bucs cheerleaders walked onto the field to line up. Although a little afternoon, it was not the lyrics “good good night,” it was the start of a great great afternoon performance by the cheerleaders. I was truly impressed by this squad and they are now one of my favorites!!
The cheerleaders performed wonderfully all afternoon, and reflect the multi-dimensionality of talents that are required to be a superlative squad. During the game, I empathized with the dancers that their active sideline role was difficult given the sun and heat. Then I remembered, this is their eighth game since pre-season, and except for the game in London, the Florida heat is probably a typical part of game day for a Bucs cheerleader. Despite the heat, the squad was active and smiling. They were superb!
The cheerleaders donned their holiday apparel on this day. I am not sure if it a weekly event or because of the special holiday uniforms, but the cheerleaders paused to group together for photographs taken by one of their staff each quarter.
One of the things one observes when visiting a new stadium is their local traditions during the game. Often during the game, the sound system plays “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me),” the song I know most from hearing in the Disney ride “Pirates of the Caribbean.” During Bucs games, this song is occasionally played at which time patrons on the endzone pirate ship throw beads and other prizes into the crowd. During the song, the Buccaneers cheerleaders perform a swashbuckling dance, and though I have always loved the “Pirates of the Caribbean” rides, I now know they could be so much better with some of the cheerleaders along for the ride.
At the two minute warning of the first half, the cheerleaders left the sidelines and lined up on playing field and performed a routine to “Run, Rudolph, Run.” On the large video screens right before the performance, clips of several cheerleaders introducing themselves were shown. For example, Kristin introduced herself as a University of Colorado graduate and medical device sales associate. I wish I had some photos of Kristin, but the only downside of this great day was that an official golf cart’s roof blocked my view of a few cheerleaders each quarter.
In the second half, the cheerleaders performed two routines in the end zones. First, they performed to “Let it Snow” between quarters (the cheerleaders’ internal sentiment was probably, “Let it be less than 80 degrees”). At the two minute warning, they performed to “Last Christmas.”
After attending a couple of Rams games this season, I have seen the discouragement of local fans. One of the Bucs fans in my row wore a bag over his head in the second half, and the Jets fans certainly had the volume if not numbers on this day of a Jets win. But Tampa Bay certainly has one of the best cheerleader/dance squads in the league. If I I were to name every standout, I would need to list 30 names. Jennifer is a seven year veteran and is a wonderful dancer; the lovely Rochelle is in her second year on the squad and is a communications major; and Holly was a standout during the first quarter line that rotated in front of me. During the second quarter, I had the privilege of sitting near Jaime, who a superb dancer. And it seems like there is one every game: Courtney turned out to be the squad member in which I realized when I was back home in the chilly Midwest that I had a ton of great Courtney photos. Tramane was great in the last quarter, with dimples to die for.
So it was difficult enough to go from 30 to a single Sideline Standout of the Game, so I will name two for their wonderful sideline presence and dancing. Stephanie M is a two year veteran and a surgical dental assistant. It is painless to name Stephanie as one of my Sideline Standouts, for wonderful smiles and perfect dancing beyond the call of duty. Second, I have to name Sara as the second Sideline Standout of the Game. Sara is a three year squad veteran and a Biomedical Science major. Sara is a spectacular performer and a great sideline distraction for the disappointed Bucs fans.
As I left Raymond James Stadium, I couldn’t get that “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)” out of my head. But they lyrics in my head had changed to “Yo ho, yo ho, the Bucs cheerleaders rule!!” Great job!!
As part of the NFL Bucs cheer girls‘ UK tour this week, they dropped by three primary schools in three different cities to teach youngsters all about the sport.
The Bucs were over drumming up support for their team before they come back over on October 25th to host the New England Patriotsat Wembley – the third annual NFL match-up that the UK has seen in recent years.
As a former cheerleader, it was hugely rewarding to be able to set up these school camps, and show young kids first hand what cheerleading can bring. I was only given the opportunity at uni and I wished so much that squads had been active and available when I was little too.
Bucs – camp1
But what was most heart-warming was Head Teacher of Newcastle’s Wingrove Primary, Denise Harland’s glowing endorsement of the girls when they came to visit the school – hopefully dispelling the renowned air-head myths surrounding the cheer community:
“It’s a great opportunity to have the cheerleaders come into the school and show the children a different side of sport. These girls are very fit, articulate and fun, and it’s gives our children an idea of what sport can offer. They need to see and experience as broad a range of activities as possible and are very fortunate to have been part of the Buccaneers tour.”
Bring it on.
by Vicky Robson, Evening Chronicle
Jul 4 2009
CHEERLEADERS brought the American dream all the way to youngsters on Tyneside.
And it was “hands on hips, smiles on lips” for the pupils at Wingrove Primary School, in Fenham, Newcastle, when the team of elite professionals dropped in to fly their flag.
The six-strong squad from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers American football team, in Florida, were in the city as part of a UK tour to promote the sport and rally fans.
They spent the morning playing games and showing some classic steps to dance pupils in Years 3 to 6, before showcasing their pom-pom power in two special routines.
The girls finished their visit with two performances and wowed the crowd of youngsters, all aged between seven and 11, with their traditional slogan shouting.
Buccaneer cheerleader, Anna Duncan, 23, said: “It’s been amazing. I love coming to the UK and it’s great to give the kids an opportunity to have some fun and teach them all about American football.
“We are here to promote the sport and the big game at Wembley in October and we are also the UK’s home team this year so it’s very exciting. It’s just wonderful to be here.”
The visit coincided with the school’s sports week where children had been taking part in a range of different activities, including cricket, cycling and street jam and Asian dancing.
Headteacher at Wingrove Primary School, on Hadrian Road, Denise Harland, said: “It’s a great opportunity to have the cheerleaders come into the school and show the children a different side of sport.
“These girls are very fit, articulate and fun, and it’s gives our children an idea of what sport can offer.
“They need to see and experience as broad a range of activities as possible and are very fortunate to have been part of the Buccaneers tour.”
The squad are touring the UK in a bid to drum up support and rally fans for the third National Football League game at Wembley Stadium, in London.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing as the UK’s home team against the New England Patriots, who are hosting the match in the new season which starts in September.
It will be the third regular season game played by the NFL in the country and has already sold more than 70,000 tickets.
NFL UK managing director, Alistair Kirkwood, said: “It’s great to see British kids enjoying any aspect of the American football experience. It all helps to develop an understanding and passion for the sport.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the New England Patriots game which takes place at Wembley Stadium, in London, on October 25.
For more information on the game, or cheerleading in the UK, visit www.NFLUK.com
That, as a dozen members of the 2009 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders team are now well aware, is a traditional cry of greeting or enthusiasm by a U.S. Marine. Apparently, it can also mean, ‘Job well done!’
Meagan Pravden, whose father, grandfather and uncles have all served in the U.S. military, was recently treated to a rousing chorus of ‘Oorahs!’ at Camp Kinser in Okinawa, Japan, as were her fellow Buccaneer Cheerleaders. The cheerleaders, part of a traveling troupe participating in an Armed Forces Entertainment overseas tour, had just concluded a variety show performance for a large group of Marines, and there was little doubt it had gone well.
“They received our show very well,” gushed Pravden, one of only two rookie cheerleaders on the tour. “They say, ‘Oorah!’ and we absolutely love performing for them. The Marines are the best! Then again, we’re performing for sailors [Thursday] and that’s unexplored territory for me. I’ve never performed for sailors before. We’re excited to see how they receive the show, but all of our performances have gone over very well so far.”
Pravden and her fellow traveling cheerleaders — Tomoko Kojima, Tiffany Jimenez, Sahara Sears, Tramane Shuler, Jeni Summers, Courtney Russ, Holly Sellers, Sara Tetzler, Aubrey Gainey, Jaime Hanna and Cheerleading Manager Sandy Charboneau — have been out of the States since Thursday, June 18. They flew first to Japan then hopped to Guam on Tuesday. Tampa Bay players Michael Clayton and Will Allen also made the trip, though their itinerary has been slightly different.
The Buccaneers Cheerleaders put on two shows in Okinawa and filled almost every intervening hour with meet-and-greets and other appearances with members of the military. Clayton and Allen stayed in Okinawa one extra day in order to host a football clinic for service members at Camp Shields. For the cheerleaders, a third show at Anderson Air Base in Guam on Thursday will conclude the exhausting but highly rewarding trip; they will arrive back in Tampa on Friday night.
Charboneau and groups of Buccaneer Cheerleaders have participated in many such tours in the past, but each trip remains an eye-opening experience for the travelers, especially those taking part in it for the first time.
“What I’ve heard from most of the girls and how I feel myself is that it’s probably the best part of our jobs,” said Charboneau. “We get to meet people that we never, ever would have had the opportunity to meet. Seeing the impact it has on the people in the military when we just show up and tell them that we appreciate them, it means a lot. It really does.”
Pravden definitely agreed.
“It’s so much more than I expected,” she said. “I’d never traveled internationally before, and to meet all these troops, all the emotional rewards that we get back, it’s such an experience. I’m just so grateful to have this opportunity my first year on the team.”
Like Pravden, most of the cheerleaders on the tour have family members who have served or are currently serving in the military. A chance to say thank you to the men and women protecting our nation was a large part of their motivation to sign up for the trip. That seemed particularly poignant when the tour took the group relatively close to areas of current concern, such as Korea.
Knowing the danger these troops are willing to face, the cheerleaders wanted nothing more than to foster happier thoughts in the men and women they entertained and interacted with.
“Luckily, when we come and hang out with the troops we bring a sort of ‘lightness’ with us, just taking their minds off what they’re doing day to day,” said Sears, a four-year veteran of the squad who has taken part in previous overseas tours. “We’re trying to help them have some fun for a few hours. Emotionally it’s been just as touching as it always is. Each tour that we go on, we meet so many people and we hear so many stories that touch our lives in every single way, and this tour’s no different.
“It’s good for them to reflect and get their minds off being away from home. We meet tons of people from Florida and the Tampa Bay area, and even a lot of people who aren’t from the Tampa Bay area who are Bucs fans. That’s really cool to see, considering we’re thousands and thousands of miles away from home.”
Every tour is packed with appearances, travel and preparations. There’s a little time for sightseeing here and there, a little time for sleep. The schedule can be brutal on the face of it; the cheerleaders arrived in Guam at 2:00 a.m. on Tuesday, got to their hotel three hours later and were soon back on the meet-and-greet tour.
Still, the travelers uniformly agree that they don’t really feel the exhaustion until they get back to Tampa.
“The schedule is intense and it is hectic, but the thing is that we’re doing are once-in-a-lifetime things,” said Sears. “We’ve visited some troops while they’re practicing getting into their jets and we’ve visited other troops while they were working in the fire station. It’s stuff that you’ve really never had the chance to do before, so our energy level stays high because we’re running on excitement and adrenaline. The short hours of sleep are totally worth what we’re getting to experience every single day.”
Pravden says the adrenaline pumps double-time for the first-timers on the tour.
“I’ve never done this before so every experience is a new one,” she said. “Every meet-and-greet, you never know what you’re going to get, who you’re going to shake hands with, who you’re going to talk to and the experiences you’re going to hear. It’s just been non-stop and I’ve loved it.”
By Gayle Guyardo
Tampa Bay Online
June 17, 2009
TAMPA – Twelve Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders will take off for Japan on Thursday to perform for troops stationed there.
On Friday, they’ll be joined by Bucs players Will Allen and Michael Clayton.
“My father was in Vietnam and I called him to tell him that I made the trip,” said rookie cheerleader Meagan Pravedm. She wanted “to pay it forward to the troops doing the same thing he did.”
The “Shake, Rattle and Roll” variety tour organized by Armed Forces Entertainment includes a first stop at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, where the cheerleaders will perform Friday with the band The Crash Moderns. The players arrive shortly after and will join the cheerleaders in greeting military personnel. The Tampa representatives will also visit Camp Foster in Okinawa.
The cheerleaders then go to Guam on Monday for a visit with troops at Andersen Air Base. Clayton and Allen will remain in Japan for a football clinic and return to Tampa on June 24.
At the annual Bucs cheerleader tryouts, the women also auditioned for the special military appreciation tour. The squad includes about three dozen members, only a third of whom were chosen for the tour.
During their performance, the women willl dance, tap and fling batons in the air to the sounds of hip-hop, rock ‘n’ roll, country and ,of course, military favorites.
In past years, specialized Bucs cheerleaders teams have traveled to Australia, Iraq, Afghanistan and London.
By Lee Warren
God designed women to be encouragers. That’s what Tina Gaa-Pulley believes, so it seemed only natural for someone whose first dance recital took place when she was 3 and who started her own dance school when she was 16 to become an NFL Cheerleader one day.
Of course, nothing in life is ever quite that simple.
While she loved to dance as a little girl, she had her sights set on playing basketball when she was in the eighth grade in Maryville, Mo., when a providential event occurred in her life. A couple of days before tryouts, as she was practicing with the other girls, she broke her thumb, forcing her to wear a metal brace and limiting her ability to shoot the ball.
When tryouts rolled around, she couldn’t hit a shot, and she didn’t make the team. While she says she was crushed, she did what came natural to her.
“I went to go watch them play their first game, and I stood up and started cheering for them,” Gaa-Pulley said. “I started a cheerleading squad. I ended up going to every game. I was the only one cheering, but by the end of the year, we had a couple of people and that’s how it all started.”
Even though she was considered small and disproportionate, she was the first alternate on the dance team the next season. She excelled there, becoming an All-American. She went on to perform in the Aloha Bowl, the Hula Bowl and the USA Spirit Squad.
She attended Northwest Missouri State University and was on the dance team there as well. The Bearcat Steppers were fourth in the nation during her junior year. She decided to forgo her senior season to start a wellness company with some of her professors, thinking that health and wellness would be her next step in life.
In 1993, she moved to Tampa for a job, and at the suggestion of a friend, she tried out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleading squad. She didn’t make the team initially, but somebody quit and it opened up an opportunity for her. She says she “cheered like I made it.”
Something else was going on in her life at that time. She had always gone to church, but she didn’t really know Jesus. She attended a worship service in Tampa and it stirred her soul — challenging her to live out the faith on a daily basis. Knowing she didn’t possess the type of faith the pastor spoke about bothered her — so much so that she never went back to church while she was in Tampa.
“I did not honor God during that year of my life,” Gaa-Pulley said. “I used [my position as an NFL cheerleader] for greed, pride, fame, for signing autographs, for getting into clubs, for the glitz and glory if it, for me. It was the glorification of me.”
She moved to Idaho for graduate school, got married, had two boys and then endured a divorce. One day in 2002, one of her sons asked her who Jesus was. She couldn’t answer his question, so she took her children to church to find out. She heard the gospel and says she was redeemed in an instant.
She decided to move back to the Kansas City area and immediately got active in a church there. She and her family — she’s newly re-married — are now members of Heartland Community Church in Overland Park. As she grew in the faith, she couldn’t escape the growing feeling that she was supposed to tryout for the Kansas City Chiefs’ cheerleading squad, knowing that if she got another shot, she would do things differently this time. She made the team in 2005, at age 32, and she began to pour herself into the other cheerleaders.
She only cheered for the Chiefs for one season, but the impact she made can be heard in these written words from a fellow cheerleader: “I love being around you just for the simple fact that I feel like you boost my spirit and morale. The way you talk about God is phenomenal …” Another cheerleader wrote, “You’re such a strong Christian woman. You inspire me to be a better person.”
In a sense, she became a cheerleader for cheerleaders, and it didn’t end after she stopped cheering for the Chiefs. She is still mentoring, coaching and speaking to Chiefs cheerleaders. She has written curriculum for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Cheer Camp. And recently she started putting together a professional cheerleaders association in hopes of connecting cheerleaders in all sports. She’s also writing a book to cheer women through their daily struggles.
Recently she attended a Chiefs game in which they were losing handily, and even that gave her motivation to continue to cheer others on.
“By the end of the third quarter, the sea of red had become the sea of red heading out of the stadium,” Gaa-Pulley said. “People were angry — yelling profanities and getting emotional. I looked down at the cheerleaders and was reminded of what a blessing they are. They still had their smiles and they continued to dance and cheer as if nothing had changed. They knew the score, but that didn’t stop them from cheering — even in the fourth quarter. They stood by their team no matter what.
“What if we did that in our families, in our communities, in our careers, in our faith? What if we began to act our way into right feeling rather than feel our way into right action?
“It was a challenge to get off the sidelines and cheer like this in every aspect of life.”