Buccaneers Cheerleader Jennifer Summers wore a pink lei during the Bucs' final regular season game in honor of her selection as the team's Pro Bowl representative
Becoming a Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleader can really take you places, as Leigh Killian found out in dramatic fashion when she appeared on the Late Night with Conan O'Brien show last week.
Sometimes, it can even take you to the same place several times over. And when that places happens to be Hawaii, who's complaining?
Certainly not Jennifer Summers, who will soon be off to that island paradise for the third time in a little over a year, all as a result of her work with the Buccaneers Cheerleaders. Specifically, she's going back to Hawaii this time because her 31 teammates believe she deserves it.
Each year, the NFL constructs a cheerleading squad for the Pro Bowl game in Honolulu by inviting one member from each troop in the league to attend. Each squad chooses which of its cheerleaders will represent it, and the Buccaneers crew does so by a vote of all of its women. This year, they voted for Summers, an energetic fourth-year veteran on the squad.
The obvious respect shown to Summers by her teammates and squad coordinator Sandy Charboneau means as much to her as the trip back to Hawaii.
"It definitely is a great feeling to know that your teammates voted for you to represent them and the Buccaneers at the Pro Bowl," she said. "It really is such an honor to know that my teammates and Sandy support me, and that they believe I'll be a good representative."
Summers has already represented the Buccaneers Cheerleaders twice in the 50th state…and recently. This past spring, the entire squad flew to Hawaii in order to use its lush backdrops as the scenery for their latest Swimsuit Calendar. (You can order that 16-month, 2007-08 calendar here.)
Almost a year ago, Summers was one of 12 Buccaneers Cheerleaders who conducted an 18-day Military Appreciation Tour through Japan, Korea and Hawaii. The talented women didn't just shake hands and sign autographs on the tour; rather they put on an entire 45-minute variety show at each stop, complete with music, a variety of dance styles and individual talents, multiple uniform changes and, yes, a few cheers.
Summers worked hard on both of those trips, neither of which was a vacation by any stretch of the imagination. Still, they took her to places she might never have visited without her affiliation with the Buccaneers.
"It truly has been a blessing to have all these amazing opportunities over the last five years," said Summers, who has also accompanied the troop on trips to Germany, Scotland, Great Britain, Mexico, Honduras and Ecuador. "The opportunities have been endless and I've been so fortunate to have them. To go to Hawaii this many times is unbelievable – I can't believe it's really happening."
Being selected as the Bucs' Pro Bowl representative means several more weeks of work for Summers. The coordinator of the Pro Bowl squad sends videotapes of the routines that will be performed at the game and throughout the week to all of the participating women, and they are expected to learn the necessary steps before they even fly to Hawaii.
"It is a lot of hard work before we go," said Summers. "It takes a lot of time to get prepared for the dances and everything else. To get up there with all the girls from the other squads and be comfortable in that group is the challenge.
"But the girls that have done this before have given me a lot of information about how I have to prepare myself for what we're going to be doing over there. Sandy has a great plan to help us get prepared for the Pro Bowl so that once we get there it's more relaxing and we can enjoy the experience."
Summers is pretty sure that, yes, she is going to enjoy the experience. She may be pretty familiar with Hawaii already, but that doesn't mean it has lost its attraction. Plus, this time, the trip offers a new opportunity.
"I've heard so many great things about going to the Pro Bowl," said Summers. "I'm told I'll make many new wonderful friends, friendships that will last for a lifetime. The other girls that have gone say the experience is very rewarding and that it helped them grow into a better person and a better leader. From what I've heard, it's just a memorable experience."