Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders entertain fans during games and help out in the community at countless of events
In the NFL, the most successful teams get the lowest draft picks the following year. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders, fortunately, that's not the case; after fielding a fantastic squad in 2005, the Buccaneers Cheerleaders had their pick of outstanding candidates to make the team even better in 2006.
The results, after three weeks of tryouts ending on Thursday: The most beautiful, talented and promising cheerleading squad in franchise history.
"I didn't know if it was possible to top last year's team, but I think we've done it," said Sandy Charboneau, the Bucs' cheerleading coordinator. "We have the perfect mix of veterans who have developed into outstanding performers and rookies who are full of energy and eager to make us even better. These women are just so talented and motivated…I think we have the best cheerleading squad in the NFL."
The Buccaneers have gone back to a 28-woman squad after expanding the team to 34 members last year. Of those 28, 11 are newcomers to the squad and 17 were either on the team last year or have previously been Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders. The rookies range from an 18-year-old student to a 26-year-old promotions producer. There are also five returning cheerleaders who have been on the team for at least three years running.
As always, the tryout, interview and selection process was arduous for all involved. However, it was well worth it, as the end result was the best team that could have been formed from the 350 women who auditioned for the squad.
"It was tough [to decide], but it was a good problem to have," said Charboneau, who had the help of four other judges, including three Disney casting directors. "We narrowed it down to 51 fabulous women for the final group, and they all performed very well, making it difficult to pick the final 28. In the end, though, I feel certain that we made the right decisions. I'm so excited about this year's team. I can't wait to get everybody together and get started."
So, without further ado, let us introduce the 2006 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders:
|**2006 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders**|
|Erica Benavidez||20||Business Administration Major||Rookie|
|Maria Cartagena||21||Marketing Associate||2-Year Veteran|
|Britney Craine||22||Communications Major||2-Year Veteran|
|Catherine Croake||32||Dance Instructor||5-Year Veteran|
|Jessica Diaz||24||Marketing Major||4-Year Veteran|
|Micaela Diaz||20||Biology Major||Rookie|
|Kayla Drawdy||24||Broadcasting Major||5-Year Veteran|
|Anna Duncan||20||Marketing Major||Rookie|
|Deshay Eurice||24||Social Science Major||2-Year Veteran|
|Milly Figuereo||26||Promotions Producer||Rookie|
|Aubrey Gainey||21||Elementary Education Major||Rookie|
|Barbara Hancock||19||Communications Major||2-Year Veteran|
|Jennette Harshman||25||Account Executive||4-Year Veteran|
|Crystal Hollobaugh||22||Mass Communication Major||Rookie|
|Tiffany Jimenez||18||Full Time Student||Rookie|
|Tomoko Kojima||27||NFL Japan Cheerleader||4-Year Veteran|
|Monica Littlejohn||26||AP Accountant||2-Year Veteran|
|Deanna Lybrand||25||Interior Design Student||2-Year Veteran|
|Natalie Maddox||27||Acupuncture Physician||3-Year Veteran|
|Aimee Perkins||23||Mass Communication Major||3-Year Veteran|
|Erica Permane||21||Public Relations||2-Year Veteran|
|Ashton Rel||20||Accounting Major||Rookie|
|Lauren Rudolph||21||Account Coordinator||3-Year Veteran|
|Sahara Sears||18||Full Time Student||Rookie|
|Veronica Serna||24||Mortgage Loan Officer||Rookie|
|Tramane Shuler||19||Physical Therapy Major||Rookie|
|Jennifer Summers||24||Mass Communications Major||4-Year Veteran|
|Rachel Watson||20||Education Major||2-Year Veteran|
The tryout process began on March 27 with a handful of voluntary workshops, with 350 women formed the original field of candidates. Returning veterans joined the audition process this past Sunday, after two eliminations on Saturday had pared the field from its original total to 100. That group was narrowed down to 51 finalists by Sunday afternoon during group auditions. One-on-one auditions followed.
There was a new and exciting element to this year's tryouts, however. A film crew was on hand throughout the experience, shooting extensive footage for a series of specials to air on the NFL Network in June. This is the second year that the Network has followed an NFL cheerleading selection process, having produced a similar show on the Miami Dolphins' squad last year. The resulting specials were the highest rated shows on the NFL Network in all of 2005.
The crew following the women trying out for Tampa Bay's squad was granted almost unlimited access and came away with enough material to produce three one-hour shows. The three episodes will cover the tryouts, the upcoming Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders calendar shoot and the overall making of the team. During the auditions, the crew followed selected rookies and veterans in order to get differing perspectives on the experience. The shoot concluded Friday night at Champps at International Plaza, where the 28 women who made the squad were introduced.
"Having the film crew here made the process much more intense," said Charboneau. "But that's okay because it added energy to the women's performances and also gave us more of an idea of how they would react to pressure. The film crew was everywhere; they're going to be able to produce a really exciting show."
The 28 women selected to be 2006 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders will soon begin a year of unique and rewarding experiences. While the cheerleaders' main purpose is to entertain Buccaneers fans at home games at Raymond James Stadium, the role has expanded significantly in recent seasons. Buccaneers Cheerleaders have made several high-profile trips to such locations as California, Europe and the Middle East. Members of the squad have appeared in national magazine photo spreads and made countless appearances at community events around the Bay area and beyond.
"The women who try out for the squad, especially the veterans, know there's so much opportunity there, so much they can get out of being a Buccaneers cheerleader," said Charboneau. "I think that's why we get so many excellent candidates. It can be a really rewarding experience, as much as they want to make out of it, and it's something they'll remember forever."
Indeed, there are many exciting days ahead over the next year for the 28 women who became 2006 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders on Friday. For now, just seeing their name on the list above is excitement enough.