Don’t you dare be that person who says you haven’t watched much Denver Broncos football this season, because Denver Broncos cheerleader Tara will surely call you out. “There is no way you haven’t watched the Denver Broncos this season. We have been the team to beat the past couple of seasons and Mr. Manning always makes the games exciting to watch,” she says flatly. And there’s no way you won’t be watching them come Super Bowl Sunday where Peyton can potentially win in Eli’s house like Eli did in Peyton’s house two years ago.
Having been on the sidelines as a Denver Broncos Cheerleader (DBC) for the past five seasons, and a self-proclaimed die-hard fan herself, Tara definitely knows what she’s talking about. Originally from Littleton, CO, a suburb just twenty miles south of Denver, Denver and all things football – including her favorite all-time player John Elway – are engrained in her DNA.
“I think Mr. Manning is a living legend. Watching him on the field 40 feet away is pretty surreal,” she says as of her current favorite player to watch. And pretty much everyone elses across the entire nation.
In Tara’s own words, here are some interesting things to note about the Denver Broncos and Sports Authority Field at Mile High:
1. The Denver Broncos cheerleading team is celebrating its 21st season and is arguably one of the best (if not THE best) cheerleading teams in the NFL.
2. Our director and co-director have been with the team all 21 seasons. They know what they are doing and are truly the best of the best in the business.
3. The DBC is made up of 26 of the most talented and beautiful women in the country. They all work extremely hard to uphold the DBC legacy on and off the field. They are all my friends and I love them dearly.
3. Sports Authority Field at Mile High is one of the largest stadiums in the NFL seating 76,000 fans.
4. We have had sold-out crowds for the last 348 games.
5. Broncos Country (our fans) are the loudest and most loyal fans in the NFL. Trust me this is not just my opinion… I have traveled to 10 different countries and four different states representing the Denver Broncos. I have met them all!
6. Mr. Bowlen has owned the Denver Broncos for 30 seasons and is the first owner in NFL history to reach 300 wins in 30 years.
Speaking of Broncos fans, Tara says the crowd at Sports Authority Field at Mile High is like none other. “The fans cheer loud and proud in rain, shine or snow. They are the most loyal and friendly fans in the NFL. I look forward to seeing them on Sundays. They are what make our mile high magic so special,” she says.
As for the toughest part of being an NFL cheerleader, it’s definitely the balance and scheduling for Tara. “I think it is always tough to juggle two jobs and a personal life. During our season the schedule can be tight. Between practice, charities, and work I find it difficult to have time for anything else. However, I wouldn’t change the feeling I have walking out of the tunnel on game day for anything!” But Tara admits one of her guiltiest pleasures comes when the team is on the road, and being able to watch football on her couch. “It’s nice to have lazy Sundays every now and again,” she says.
Tara doesn’t just dance and flash her pearly whites on the sidelines on Sundays, she does it for a living each and every day of the week as a dance teacher and choreographer. Just before we sat down to interview she had just finished choreography for Boise State University and was going over her own game day material.
But to show you just how tough the competition is to become a cheerleader, especially a DBC, Tara didn’t make the squad her first (or second) time around. “I tried out two times and made it to finals both times prior to being selected for the 2009 squad. It was a learning process and I became a better person and dancer each time. It taught me about perseverance and courage in order to reach my goals,” she says.
Oh the difference a few years can make as Tara recalls her best experience as a DBC thus far was just last year – being selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl. “Being selected as the 2013 Pro Bowl cheerleader was the proudest moment of my life. It was an honor to represent my teammates and coaches. Dreams do come true,” the optimist says.
Tara keeps that optimistic attitude on the field, always. It’s practically part of her uniform. “We are always cheering for our team and fans. It’s never too late to turn the game around,” she says.
Although comfortable in her own skin, which has become synonymous with her DBC uniform, Tara still has a few fears come game day in front of those 76,000 roaring fans. “I do get a little anxious when we are dancing in the snow. It can get a little slippery on the field. I have an ongoing fear of being the cheerleader that falls on Thundervision!” she jokes.
I can surely sympathize with that fear of hers, but having only known her briefly, I have no doubt she’d do it with a smile and grace and fans would fall even more in love with the brunette.
Dancing for a living, Tara likes to rock out to pretty much any kind of music, but she does have a few preferences. “Current country hits are always fun to dance in, wearing our chaps and boots! I also love the holiday games when we get to dance to holiday music,” she says. She’s also not afraid to admit she doesn’t care who judges her for jamming out to Justin Bieber.
Along with her all-smiles attitude, Tara says her wit and humor sometimes surprises people, though it shouldn’t. “I am a funny person. I am pretty witty which surprises some people. I give some away fans a run for their money.”
Many think NFL cheerleaders are the pinnacle of high-maintenance, because as fans we usually see them with full hair and makeup and glitter in unimaginable places, but that isn’t the case. Not even close. And Tara is proof. A perfect date night for her? Simply anywhere with hamburgers and Malbec on the menu. It doesn’t even have to be a good Malbec. And live music is a plus.
Tara isn’t just well versed in the Macarena and other popular dance moves we wish we could emulate, she’s wildly knowledgeable on football as well. Her favorite football player growing up was none other than John Elway, former Broncos QB and current Executive Vice President of the team. She realizes there are a ton of misconceptions about NFL cheerleaders out there, but the biggest in her mind is that these women don’t know anything about football. “My teammates are diehard Broncos fans. We are extremely competitive when it comes to fantasy football. We have a DBC league and it can get kinda heated come playoff time!” she says.
Tara’s favorite quote — “You miss all of the shots you don’t take,” –- is pretty applicable to this 2013 Denver Broncos team as they head to MetLife Stadium for their first Super Bowl in 15 years. And I’d say they have a damn good shot at the coveted Vince Lombari trophy against Seattle come Super Bowl Sunday. But if at first they don’t succeed, let Tara’s story serve as their motivation to keep coming back stronger and more determined each year.
You can follow (not stalk) Tara on Twitter @DBC_Tara.
Jayme Lamm is a freelance sports and travel writer based in Houston and is currently in a full-court press writing her hugely opinionated sports column, The Blonde Side. Follow her travels for sporting events and check her out on Twitter.