As I boarded the plane heading down to Orlando, my heart was filled with so much excitement, nerves and adrenalin. The month of January has been full blown Pro Bowl prep, making sure I learned all the routines, getting everything packed and chatting with the other women who I will finally get to hug!!
The 25 cheerleaders arrived at all different times Monday and each time a new set of women arrived, the overwhelming joy grew. The first woman I met was Brooke from the Chiefs and we instantly connected. We had been talking so much before Pro Bowl that we had already created a bond before we had even met. I cried and laughed and asked so many questions to each of my brand new sisters.
I was lucky enough to spend the week rooming with the lovely Kristia from our AFC rivals, the Texans! She is a dance teacher in Houston and I spent the week learning so much about her as not only a cheerleader, but who she is outside of cheerleading. Both are amazing.
We traveled to Universal City Walk all decked out in our team gear and had an incredible dinner. Each woman shared their journey of what brought them to the NFL, and what their team dynamics were during the season. We were all able to deeply connect with each other on a personal level, learning about our families, careers outside of the NFL, and what inspires us within our community outreach programs.
The end of night one was a hilarious one. We each wore pajama onesies correlating with our team in some way. I found a Super Mario Brothers onesie and ironed on a number “8” to become Super Mario-ta! This evening was filled with exchanging secret sister gifts, posters and calendars from all of our teams and continuing to let out bond grow. We left day one already connected and ready to take on the week!
Tuesday began with a beautiful team breakfast where we were introduced to the incredible team of directors who would be leading us through the week. We then traveled to the infamous “rocks” where the 2019 Pro Bowl Cheerleader squad photo would take place. This photo takes a lot of work; they want to ensure that each girl is highlighted in the best way and that the uniforms all blend seamlessly together. You could feel the energy from the set and everyone’s positivity and excitement fed off one another. It almost did not feel real; being a part of this photo was truly a dream come true for all of us!
After our team photo, we had a short break and then went right into rehearsal. In order to perform as a team, we all had to put in hours of practice before arriving to Orlando to perfect pre-recorded routines! We rehearsed for almost seven hours Tuesday evening and ended the night with team bonding. We also were placed into our small groups called “line groups,” which consist of the women that we dance with during our appearances and the big game! My line consisted of the representative from the Jets, Colts, Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos, Patriots and (of course) Titans! After a long day two, we were all ready for a great night of rest!
We started Wednesday with another group rehearsal to finalize our pregame routine and then headed to Disney for the NFL Skills Challenge. There we cheered on the AFC along with fans from across the country. I met several Titans fans who were all so excited about the upcoming draft in Nashville and our 2019 season! I had watched the event on television in the past, but the NFL Skills Challenge was even more impressive to watch in person. My favorite moment had to be the pass challenge (along with meeting the amazing CIARA)!
My line group was able to perform four of the dances that we had just perfected the day before and it felt great having our first performance under our belts before we went off to our first field performance at the Pro Bowl Experience. This is where fans can come interact with players and cheerleaders, take photos with the Pro Bowl Trophy and take in all things NFL!
Once we got back to our hotel, we ventured back to Universal City Walk for a fabulous night of conversation, dinner and laughs. I had always been told that the bond of the Pro Bowl Cheerleaders was strong, but I never knew just how strong it would grow in such a short amount of time.
Thursday started off a little rainy (little did we know this was foreshadowing), so we spent the next few hours inside setting our pregame routine for Sunday’s big event!
After the rehearsal I had a few hours of downtime and the Florida sunshine blessed us! I spent the afternoon by the pool with my new friends Lexie from the Colts and Abby from the Bengals. As hard as we were trying to relax our sore muscles, our nonstop laughter left my abs in even more pain!
All the cheerleaders had to be ready for a jam-packed evening for the opening night of Play Football. This event hosts hundreds of flag football teams from across the country who come to compete in the championship in Orlando! We spent the evening cheering on the teams, performing different routines and playing games with the flag football players. I met the team who traveled from Nashville and was able to wish them the best of luck!
Friday started off with another performance and fan meet and greet at the Pro Bowl Experience. Several of the Pro Bowl Cheerleaders from the previous year where there which was really special. Being able to hear their cheers in the crowd was a HUGE energy booster for us!
Friday evening was an amazing night; we were able to cheer on the celebrity flag football game. AFC was coached by the legendary Deion Sanders and NFC was coached by Snoop Dogg. I was able to speak with both of them and they were quite the animated coaches. They each wanted so badly to win and were doing anything and everything to try to keep the clock running and take the opponent down! I was able to meet several Disney Channel Stars including JD McCrary, who will be the voice of Young Simba in the upcoming film The Lion King.
Another successful day for the Pro Bowl Cheerleaders!
Saturday ended up being my favorite day of the whole week because it encompassed so many of my passions into one day. I started the morning cheering with the outstanding members of One Elite, They were the most talented, kind, hardworking and fun group of cheerleaders! They work alongside the Special Olympics, an organization very dear to my heart as my nephew is involved as an athlete with the Special Olympics. We spent the morning sharing our favorite dance moves and I was placed into a stunt! I am happy to report that team One Elite placed first in their cheerleading competition!
In the afternoon, AFC Line 1 performed to a packed house at Disney Springs. While I was dancing, I was able to spot my family and friends in the audience and had to hold back tears from how thankful I was to have them there to support us! We spent an hour performing and interacting with the crowd. I met a family who had just moved to Florida from Nashville and they had all their Titans gear on and told me how wonderful it was to see a familiar face.
GAME DAY!! We knew the rain was coming, but I didn’t think we knew how much!! Rain or shine, we were going to have a fabulous time. And that we did! We danced our hearts out for our players, fans, and family members who had traveled near and far. I will truly never forget looking around the stadium and thinking about how lucky we all are to be able to share this passion and love for the NFL. I never take a day for granted and will forever be thankful for the Tennessee Titans allowing me to represent my team in the 2019 Pro Bowl.
After we dried off and made it back to our hotel, we shared one last team dinner. There were tears shed (happy tears), memories made, and most importantly we knew that we had created a bond that will last a lifetime.
Thank you to my 25 Pro Bowl sisters, our fabulous directors and all the Titans staff. You have changed my life for the better and I am eternally blessed to know and work with each of you.
- TTC Kellee