Check out photos from Sam's Pro Bowl experience in Phoenix.
My final day in Phoenix was the one I had been anticipating all week and preparing for since December – which is when I was selected to go. The game day experience at Pro Bowl was unlike any other.
Our bags were packed and we were in the vans headed over to University of Phoenix Stadium at 11 a.m. Excitement was buzzing around the building as we pulled up. Fans were already walking the premises dressed in their favorite team gear, security personnel were milling about radioing each other on walkie talkies* *and checking everyone's credentials. The smell of freshly grilled and fried food was circling throughout the stadium...Yum!
Our cheerleader field practice took place from noon until about 1:30 p.m. We reviewed all of our field entrances and exits, our pregame performance, the player introductions, our three sideline routines, and we went up to the stage to practice our fourth quarter group routine. The music was blasting from the speakers, our choreography was on point and the official countdown to kickoff had begun!
After a quick lunch we got what I call "game day ready" -- hair, makeup, uniforms, boots, poms, photo cards, and Sharpies in hand. All 25 ladies were split into four different groups to head out and meet the fans! My teammates and I walked to the Fan Plaza on the Great Lawn. Each Pro Bowl Cheerleader signed autographs and took photos with fans from all over the country. I met tons of Broncos fans that were so sweet and so excited to see me representing our team!
After an hour at Fan Plaza, we went back to our locker room where we sat in a circle and chatted as a team, sharing some very special bonding moments prior to taking the field. We held hands and wished each other good luck for the game and declared as a group that we would be "killin' it" with our sharp dance moves out on the field.
The stadium, which is a dome with a retractable roof, was packed! I had never cheered inside a dome before, so it was a very cool experience for me. During our field entrance I high fived just about everybody I could, took selfies with fans, wished people "Happy Pro Bowl" and shared lots of "Go Broncos" with our fans.
As we performed our first group routine, each Pro Bowl Cheerleader was given a phrase of music for a dance solo and her video introduction was played simultaneously. Cheers from the crowd erupted as each representative had her moment to shine. Following the player introductions, Jordin Sparks sang a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner which ended with a flyover (those ALWAYS thrill me and gives me goosebumps).
After kick off, my line teammates and I danced the night away! Every time music came on we were smiling and shaking, kicking and twirling. I truly hope the fans had as much fun watching me dance as I had performing for everyone.
During halftime I changed into my chaps, a uniform the DBCs are known for. It has become a tradition that at every Pro Bowl game the DBC wears a skirt for the first half of the game and chaps for the second half. Our chaps are heavy and can get very warm as they are made of real leather. I didn't mind at all because I couldn't wait to rock our famous chaps!
The Pro Bowl was a very fast moving game, the shortest football game I've ever cheered at. Before I knew it, we were performing our last routine and Team Irvin won the game! It all seemed like it happened in a flash. Congratulations to Emmanuel Sanders for his two touchdown receptions that helped Team Irvin pull ahead of Team Carter! There was a trophy ceremony postgame and all 25 Pro Bowl Cheerleaders were able to take a team photo with Michael Irvin.
Once we got back to our locker room we were surprised with a beautiful memento, a necklace with an engraving in the pendant that said "PBC," which stands for Pro Bowl Cheerleader. How thoughtful! This is a keepsake I will cherish forever.
With that said, I can't believe my Pro Bowl experience has come to an end. It was such an incredible week and I experienced so many life-changing opportunities. I have 24 new best friends that I will hold close to my heart always. The way we connected so quickly and the sisterhood the PBC's created is an unbreakable bond that will last a lifetime.
I'm so thankful to my DBC teammates for choosing to elect me as this year's representative. Their support of me and their encouragement has been one of the greatest gifts of all. I also owe a huge thank you to my coaches who have helped me grow in leaps and bounds from my rookie season in 2010 until now. I wouldn't be where I am today without their love and guidance.
An equally huge thank you to all of Broncos Country! Broncos fans, you are not only the best fans in the NFL, but you were my biggest fans at the Pro Bowl! Thank you to each of you for following my story, sharing pictures with me via Twitter and for helping me cheer on our eight Broncos that were also representing the Orange and Blue. We couldn't do it without you!
I can't wait to see what the 2015 football season has in store for our team. Go Broncos!