Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleader Teri Bohling joined the Bucs' nine Pro Bowl players in Hawaii
The 2001 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl week ended Sunday. Teri Bohling, however, didn't get back in town until Thursday.
This was one business trip that was worth extending a few days.
Bohling was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' representative on the Pro Bowl cheerleading crew, one of 24 NFL cheerleaders sent by most of the league's teams. Together, these 24 formed their own all-star crew to cheer on the best professional football players on the planet.
The Pro Bowl may be the ultimate individual goal for an NFL player, but it is also a rare reward for some of the league's best cheerleaders. The league has been assembling this all-star cast of rooters to spice up the Pro Bowl in recent years and the trip to Hawaii has become a career highlight for a small group of women each February.
"It was the most phenomenal experience of my life," said Bohling. "You have 24 girls all working for the same goal, they all come from the same place, they're all like you. It's just magical, wonderful."
The players come to the Pro Bowl expecting to compete against the best players from the rival conference, but the assembled cheerleaders focus on cooperation and teamwork.
"There was not one single shred of competition between anyone," said Bohling of the 24 cheering all-stars. "I don't know if that was just the group of girls that we had this year, or if it was under different direction. There's no judgment, there's no competition, it's just everyone on the same playing field."
Bohling joined this group thanks to the opinions of her Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders teammates, a group of __ dedicated professionals. Though each squad is allowed to choose its representative using whatever method it chooses, the Bucs have always made their choice democratically with a vote among the team members.
"My peers voted for me to go," said Bohling. "I don't know why they voted for me, but I was so completely shocked and honored to be chosen. I don't know … I think about it every day. I'm not a captain, I'm not the strongest leader. It was the biggest, most wonderful shock of my life."
The result was a trip over the Pacific for the __-year-old Bohling, the first of her life. A student by day, Bohling found the islands to be as magical as reported.
"It was my first time in Hawaii," she said. "I went to a luau, which I'd never experienced before, and I went whale watching, which was amazing. I guess it's peak whale season right now and I must have seen 50 different whales, it was unbelievable."
Still, Bohling's purpose for being in Hawaii was to represent the NFL and she reports that the crew of 24 and their directors put in quite a bit of work in order to be valuable ambassadors.
"I think we might have practiced a little bit more than past years, but we did have two new people directing us and choreographing everything," said Bohling. "I think they were a little nervous as well because they were under scrutiny by their bosses since it was their first year. They wanted to put a great show together, so we practiced every single day, pretty much. I think we had two days off, but if we did have off, we were at appearances, presenting our performances."
Bohling was also there to represent the Buccaneers in the midst of the rest of the league's cheerleading stars. The Bucs, whose talented crew is led by Cheerleading Coordinator Carole Wood, were positive Bohling would make a positive impression.
"She just wanted me to be myself," said Bohling. "Portray us how we are. Don't talk it up, don't talk it down. Just show us exactly how it is, and how it is is wonderful. It was just a great experience. Every single girl there was nice and we had wonderful camaraderie."
And they shared a life-changing experience, apparently.