Videotapes of a dozen routines have helped Buccaneers Cheerleader Leigh Vollmer prepare for her Pro Bowl trip
Leigh Vollmer is headed to Hawaii for the second time in her life. The difference between this trip and the last: This time, all the pomp and circumstance will occur after she arrives.
Vollmer, a psychiatric clinical coordinator and five-year veteran of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders squad, previously visited Hawaii on her honeymoon. Now she's going back as the Buccaneers' selection for the Pro Bowl cheerleading squad, which consists of one representative from each of the 26 NFL teams that have cheerleaders.
Vollmer was selected for the trip by a vote of her Buccaneer teammates, who have long appreciated her hard work, spirit and dedication to the team.
"That's the best part of it," she said. "It's such a great honor because I was chosen to go by my peers. It really is the ultimate honor."
If Vollmer's honeymoon in Hawaii was relaxing, this trip will be anything but. The 26 cheerleading all-stars will follow an exhausting schedule that begins the minute they arrive in Honolulu. In addition to rigorous rehearsals for their Pro Bowl performances, the cheerleaders will make dozens of appearances each day leading up to the game.
"I've heard through the girls that have been there in the years past that from eight in the morning until eight at night you're doing appearances and rehearsals and that kind of thing," said Vollmer, who nevertheless considers the trip more pleasure than business. "It is a working trip, but it will be fun and exciting too, I'm sure. We do get a free day after the Pro Bowl to lay by the pool, go sightseeing, do whatever we want to do."
That extra day will be a well-deserved reward for Vollmer and her 25 new teammates, who will serve as ambassadors of sorts for the NFL and the Pro Bowl. They will make appearances to promote the league and the game, lend a hand at a variety of charitable events and visit members of the military at Pearl Harbor.
We'll be doing appearances of all different kinds. We'll be working for the Pro Bowl, dealing with the players and the media, and we'll also be doing charitable events and visiting members of the military at Pearl Harbor. The schedule may be hectic, but Vollmer isn't complaining about a week in paradise.
"Being a Buccaneers Cheerleader has given me an opportunity to do so many things that I normally wouldn't be able to do – traveling around the world, winning the Super Bowl and all that," she said. "This trip to the Pro Bowl is like icing on the cake. Whatever we're asked to do over there, it will be well worth it."
Actually, the work has already begun. All of the Pro Bowl-bound NFL cheerleaders were sent videotapes demonstrating the 12 routines they will be asked to perform while in Honolulu. Vollmer got her tape midway through January and has been picking up the moves ever since. She's expected to have a good grasp on the routines when she steps off the plane; it's the only way to pull together a team of 26 strangers in one week.
"It's actually a challenge," Vollmer admitted. "It's pretty difficult. I've been learning them for about three weeks because you have to be prepared when you arrive there. You have to know the routines, because we start practicing the day we get there.
"It is difficult because we're trying to do, in just a few short rehearsals, what it took our [Buccaneer] team three months to do. It is going to be a challenge to mesh together as a team, and that's why we have to be as prepared as possible before we get there."
The Pro Bowl is scheduled for Sunday, February 13. Ronde Barber will be playing in the game for the Buccaneers, starting at cornerback for the NFC squad (Derrick Brooks was also selected but will not play due to injury). Vollmer will represent the team on the sidelines and on the field during cheerleader performances. Like the players in the game wearing their own teams' helmets, Vollmer and the other 25 cheerleaders will be clad in their home gear. She'll be easy to pick out of the crowd in her red and black uniform, and she'll be doing her best to make the Buccaneers look good.
"Every time I'm in uniform, I know I'm representing the whole organization," she said. "I always try to uphold the standards that come along with being involved with the Buccaneers organization. This week will be no different."