The P-R-O Convention in Atlanta is the premier professional cheerleading convention and attracts the very best professional cheerleaders and choreographers in the nation. Squads from the NFL, NBA, NHL, and minor league baseball gathered in Atlanta for a fun filled weekend of dance, team building and networking.
For James and I, the P-R-O Convention is an amazing event to cover and our highlight of the year.
The staff of All-Pro3 gave James and I complete access to the convention’s events. In the second part of my article, we continue our coverage of P-R-O with a report on Sunday’s events.
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“Whatcha got ain’t nothin new. This country’s hard on people, you can’t stop what’s coming, it ain’t all waiting on you. That’s vanity.” – No Country For Old Men
Every year on the second day of this convention, I pretty much say the same thing. I’m tired, sore and feeling my age. Time waits for no one and as each P-R-O convention passes, I wonder if I can still perform at a high level because the older I get, the harder it is do this. Yes…photographing cheerleaders for six straight hours is no easy thing to do…not if you want to do it well.
And every year, the girls seem to get younger and I get just a bit older. Following them around while holding 8 pounds of camera equipment high on your should for six hours is tiring. It is only their energy and passion that keeps me going.
Old age must be getting to James too because this year he didn’t schedule a Sunday morning shoot with one of the squads, so we just met up for a quick breakfast and I got to work chasing down a few girls for some posed photos. There was still lots of work to be done and time was short.
Sunday is get-a-way day and the convention got off to an early start. At 9:00 am sharp, the instructors called the girls into the grand ballroom to get things started. Tara Battiato of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers led the group in the perfunctory warm up and stretching session.
With the girls warmed up and ready to dance, they were introduced to the “Sidelines Blitz”, a series of short 8 count segments taught by each of the instructors. Wild and frenetic, the final version was a fusion of styles woven together by some pulse pounding music. It was just what was needed to get a bunch of sore and tired cheerleaders pumped up and ready for the first formal dance sessions of the day.
At the conclusion of the Sidelines Blitz session, the girls made their way to the various rooms for the first breakout sessions of Sunday. In the grand ballroom, Derric Whitfield of the Washington Wizards choreographed a high energy Latin jazz dance. In room 2, Minnesota Vikings’s Tami Krause demonstrated a jazzy kick routine for the field. In room 3, Denise Garvey of the Jets Flight Crew taught a dance technique class. And in room 4, Tracy Rutledge choreographed a hot country dance routine.
After the showcase, the girls scurried off to next round of dances. It was 11:30 a.m. and there was still more dances to learn and not a lot of time before some would be heading off back home.
In the grand ballroom, Stacie Kinder from the the Tennessee Titans demonstrated a hip country oriented dance routine. In room 2, the Falcons Jakene Ashford forged her group into a one woman army. In room 3, Tricia Crawford from the Milwaukee Bucks choreographed a fun and funky routine.
At the conclusion of the instructional session, the girls reconvened in the grand ballroom to showcase what they had learned.
With the second breakout sessions completed, we broke for a long lunch break. It was a little before 1:00 p.m. and I caught up with a few more cheerleaders to snap a few posed photos. AllPro3 brought their own video crew to record some video shorts and I had to share my perferred backdrop location with them. So as a consequence, I was not able to shoot as many girls as I wanted to for my All Star features. But I persevered and used this time as best as I could to snap a few more posed photos of the girls in attendance.
At 2:15 p.m., the girls reconvened for the last breakout sessions. In the grand ballroom Tara Battiato demonstrated a sassy jazz dance. In room 2, Shannon Kingsley of the Seattle Seahawks choreographed a rock oriented routine. Brandii McCoy of the Charlotte Hornets performed a hip hop holiday themed routine in room 3. And in room 4, Catapult Fit demonstrated fitness techniques.
At the conclusion of the instructional portion of the session, the girls gathered one, last time in the grand ballroom to show off what they had learned.
After the showcase, all the cheerleaders were called to the floor to perform the group dance to close out the convention.
And that was that…another P-R-O Convention was in the books. Only 364 days until next time!
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I would like to thank Brandii McCoy, Alto Gary, Tracy Rutledge and the staff of AllPro3 for allowing me to cover the 2014 P-R-O Convention. And I would like to thank the instructors of P-R-O and all the cheerleaders for allowing us to get a glimpse of the glamorous life of a professional cheerleader.
Thank you for the wonderful experience. I had a great time and hope to be back next year…old age permitting!