GLENDALE, AZ — The 2019 Pro Bowl will be in Orlando on Sunday, January 27, where the NFL's best in the NFC and AFC take the field. Many assume it's just the players who are selected, but the cheerleaders are too!
Star NFL players can go several times in their NFL career.
For example, Patrick Peterson will be going to his eighth Pro Bowl in his eight years with the Arizona Cardinals.
Typically more than one player goes, as well as alternates.
But, did you know that's not the case for those with poms on the sidelines?
NFL cheerleaders can only go ONCE, if ever selected, in their NFL career with one team, and only one cheerleader is chosen per team.
So, without further adieu, allow me to introduce you to the one and only representing the Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders this year.
Arizona Cardinals cheerleader Brittni started dancing when she was three-years-old.
She was a competitive studio dancer through high school.
Then, she cheered for the Phoenix Suns for two seasons.
After that, to fuel her passion for dance, she became a competitive Pro Am Latin Dancer for four years. Now, she is wrapping up her third season with the Big Red team.
The Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders have "Quality Control" where the ladies serve specific duties throughout the season.
Brittni's role was "The Motivator."
She told me she gave the women locker room pep talks, some being sentimental, while others just got them fired up to take the field.
She loves helping the rookies, and overall being part of all the amazing appearances and moments that happen throughout the season, as well as on game day.
Now, her team is switching roles, motivating her to shine.
Her teammates voted for her to be named the 2019 Pro Bowl Cheerleader.
Every year the selection process is different.
Sometimes upper management selects the cheerleader, while other years consist of teams voting, or even the public voting.
Brittni told me how much it meant to her that she was selected by who she considers her sisters.
How the Pro Bowl Cheerleader is announced is different each year as well.
Typically, it's a complete surprise to the girls and displayed on the big screen at some point during the game.
This season, the cheerleaders were doing a group routine during the second quarter's first time out, and they knew the announcement was coming, but didn't know who was selected yet.
The anticipation turned into celebration when Brittni's name echoed throughout the stadium.
Their director, Angie, gave her a beautiful sash with her year, name and Big Red on there, along with some sparkles, of course.
Brittni told me the Cardinals organization told her parents five days before, and got them tickets to the game to witness the milestone moment.
Her parents also held up a banner in her honor.
Shortly after she was dawned with the coveted sash, she rotated corners to dance each quarter, and she was right in front of her fiance.
They both dreamed that day would come and were overjoyed that it did.
Brittni also joked that people typically just yell out, "Cheerleaders, cheerleaders" when they walk by with their poms. But that entire game, people were yelling her name. What a surreal moment.
So, what all goes into the prep for Pro Bowl?
The previous Pro Bowl cheerleaders make sure the current Pro Bowl Cheerleader connects with the other teams, and a group chat begins.
Organizers of the Pro Bowl and NFL send out specific information they need for the week-long experience, including head shots, booking flights, etc.
Then, the ladies must all learn nine routines by watching videos before they arrive. Not much other information is given in advance, and that's intentional.
I know this because I was the 2014 Pro Bowl Cheerleader.
Every year, an itinerary is given to each Pro Bowl Cheerleader when they arrive.
Some years are jam-packed with appearances, practices, performances, and run-throughs with the halftime show entertainers.
My experience took place in Hawaii, and we were constantly learning new material, field placement, doing appearances for NFL events and also for charities.
We were with Make-a-Wish participants, and performed with Fall Out Boy. I could go on and on. Simply put, it was amazing!
Brittni told me that she's a planner, so not knowing her itinerary made her nervous, but also very excited.
Each Pro Bowl Cheerleader will also be assigned a roommate, and it's a tradition to bring a gift.
My roommate cheered for the Raiders. We have not heard yet who Brittni's roommate is, but we do know she brought tank tops as a present! Brittni told me she didn't want to reveal what they look like because it's a surprise.
I asked her how she felt knowing she is one of the best of the best NFL Cheerleaders in the United States, and she was teary-eyed responding.
She told me how she reflected on the responsibility and the honor. She told me that since the Pro Bowl is on the east coast, many people out there may not have been to Arizona before.
She wants to meet them, represent the entire organization and her team so well that those she interacts with will want to visit Arizona and come to a game in State Farm Stadium.
She wants them to leave their encounter and think Arizona, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders are the best. She wants to leave an impact, and that's exactly what you would want your Pro Bowl cheerleader to do.
When she's not cheering, she works in pharmaceuticals full-time. She's also engaged and has two step-sons. I asked her how she does it all, and she laughed. She said time management, calendars and communication are key.
Brittni is at the 2019 Pro Bowl right now, and we will check in with her when she's back to hear more about her experience. Is there anything you want us to ask her? Let me know. Also, you can follow her journey on Instagram, @AZCardsCheer.
She's been rooting on her Arizona Cardinals, so Bird Gang, it's our turn to root her on! I have no doubt she is shining! Rise up Red Sea!