This past weekend, 170 women, including me, were reunited on the field of Sports Authority Field at Mile High to perform together and celebrate 25 seasons of The Denver Broncos Cheerleaders!
I woke up on Thursday morning at 3:45 a.m. and the house was quiet as I made my way through, preparing to leave for Denver. I got to the airport at 5:30 a.m. and it was buzzing. My flight was leaving in less than an hour and I still had to check my bag. You would never believe the line of people who wanted to check their bags, too! What are all these people doing here at 5:30 on a Thursday morning? And just like the check-in line, the security line was equally as long. I got through the line and made my way to the gate. My walk quickly turned into a run as I heard them announce that they would be closing the door for my flight in a couple of minutes. Great….I didn’t plan on breaking into a full sweat and running for my flight. But,I did and I made it!! On the flight I was reminiscing through old photos of my days on the team and the lady next to me asked if I was a photographer. Apparently I no longer look like I am a Cheerleader, lol!
I arrived in Denver at 7:00 a.m. and it was going to be a long and full day. My bestie Kim picked me up. I hadn’t seen her for a year so I was so excited to see her and get to her amazingly decorated home in the city. Kim and I have been besties for a long time and were cheerleaders together. You can read all about that experience here.
We hung out all day doing this and that. We practiced our dances and then we went off to rehearsal. I had been learning it remotely and was doing alright with the choreography but certainly had been out of practice. Our group decided it would be fun to dress like our decade so we all dressed in 90s rocker gear. I guess most of us were shooting for Axl Rose of Guns n Roses. I wore a scrunchy, high tops and a sliced up t-shirt and that was my contribution to the cause.
We had rehearsal Thursday night. It was well organized and it didn’t seem as though 170 women that had not danced in a long time together or in that way were struggling….mostly. It was fun to catch up with everyone. Some of these women I haven’t seen in years. Some I have never met and some weren’t even born when I cheered. It was an amazing thing to see. When we got home I had been awake for 22 hours. I was tired but excited to be there and doing this weekend with Kim. Plus, I was excited to be back in Denver. I grew up and have spent most of my life there.
Friday was a day to get things done. By get things done, I mean nails and mall; Nordstrom, Banana Republic, Anthropologie. In that order. I loved every minute of that girl time together. We picked up our friend Lisa and headed out for dinner. We had a party to attend but wanted to grab some dinner first. After some good heart-felt conversations we finally got to the party and got to catch up with all the girls from our group. No one brought the 90s to the party and I was so happy. Everyone looked beautiful and it was so fun to catch up on each person’s life. Everyone has families and completely different lives now than they did 20 years ago so it was so fun to see them and catch up on their lives that include moving, houses, children, spouses and career changes. We brought scrapbooks and photos which provided a lot of laughter and fond memories.
Saturday was another rehearsal. We met again at the Broncos training facility. The new girls, the old girls, and the really old girls were together again. It was a successful rehearsal and was another really special time. We raced home after practice to quickly get dressed for the cocktail party. The party was held at the stadium. I was shocked at the lengths that the organization had gone to for all of us women. Actually, I am not surprised. The Broncos organization is top notch! It was a beautiful party. The Denver Broncos organization is one that is unlike any other and the relationship between every division is a close one. The Cheerleaders are no exception. They value their contribution.
We celebrated all of the people who have been there from the beginning and are STILL THERE and an integral part of the team and its success. We honored Thunder-the horse that rides through the stadium, his rider, and the designer that creates such beautiful uniforms including the chaps that are iconic to the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders. We celebrated the makeup artist that was there when I was on team, the choreographer, Shelly, who is a charter member as a cheerleader and is still the choreographer, and the only three directors of the cheerleaders that they have ever had. Each director leading these women for close to 10 years. They brought all of the Lombardi trophies out so we could all see them together. They opened up the stadium, their home, for us to enjoy. There was a roar of laughter and chatter for hours. So much fun!!! They also gave us gifts as we left. My favorite is the commemorative charm necklace they had made just for us.
Sunday was game day! Kim, Lisa and I got our makeup done at Bobbi Brown in Nordstrom….that was fun and we had a lot of laughs! After that we took an Uber to the game. Felix got us all there safely and we were able to avoid the game day traffic. I am so glad we did that because it was insane down by the stadium. #nightmare We checked in and were led into the stadium through the North Gate. All the feels came back as we walked through the hallway. They took us to a locker room so we could prepare for the game. They had food for us and plenty of rehearsal space. We rehearsed in small groups and had the same prayer circle we used to have. Tamy Elam, wife of former kicker Jason Elam, led us in prayer. Kelly Tilley, also an alumni, and I connected at this reunion. Coincidentally, she is now the Director of the Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders, lives down the street from me and we attend the same church! Looks like I have a new friend!
Walking through the tunnel and going out onto that field was exhilarating. A flood of emotions came back to me and I was reminiscent of the days I used to get to do this on a regular basis. The wind was ever so slightly blowing and the Fall air was crisp. I shivered with the excitement of being back out there on that field again and listening to the roar of the crowd. I will never forget that time, how special it was and who I share these memories with.
People have all kinds of preconceived notions about who the cheerleaders for the NFL are. My experience has been that they are wonderful and kind. Funny and caring. Inviting and inclusive. Charming and bold. They are great women who care about the communities they live in and being on a team that gives them access and opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives. You can check out my video below recapping the entire weekend!