Brenau University student-athletes from the competitive cheer and dance teams line up with the American flag before the pregame festivities at Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, Feb. 3, in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Brenau University student-athletes from the competitive cheer and dance teams line up with the American flag before the pregame festivities at Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, Feb. 3, in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Competitive cheer and dance perform in Super Bowl LIII

Feb. 7, 2019
Kristen Bowman
Brenau University student-athletes from the competitive cheer and dance teams hold the American flag during the pregame festivities at Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, Feb. 3, in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Brenau head cheer coach Krista Britt took this photos as she held the American flag during the pregame festivities at Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, Feb. 3, in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Brenau University competitive cheer and dance teams had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, Feb. 3, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Approximately 35 current and alumni student-athletes, along with head cheer coach Krista Britt, head dance coach Ashley Kastner and assistant coach Kaylynn Samples, performed during both the pregame festivities and halftime show.

“It was a lot of fun and an amazing opportunity for our girls,” said Britt. “Everything was very professional in a way that made it a wonderful experience for us.”

During the pregame activities, the Brenau student-athletes, coaches and alumni held the American flag on the field as Gladys Knight sang the national anthem. Afterward, they rushed back to the Georgia World Congress Center for costume changes and came back to be part of the “fan cast” cheering for halftime performer Maroon 5 with special guests Big Boi and Travis Scott.

Seven total rehearsals preceded game day: four at the World Congress Center and three at Mercedes-Benz with the performers.

Britt said the practice schedule was rigorous and security was “tight and private.” Producers wanted every aspect of the show to be kept a surprise for the public.

The three rehearsals at the stadium allowed for a great deal of interaction with the performers. One rehearsal fell on Brenau sophomore cheerleader Lydia Marsh’s birthday, and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine sang happy birthday to her during rehearsals. A few of the Brenau women were able to take home souvenirs, including guitar picks Levine tossed to alumna Lindsay Embrick and senior cheerleader Camille Humphrey.

Britt is a bit of an anomaly, having participated in two Super Bowl shows before Super Bowl LIII. But she said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students-athletes. Brenau Athletics was approached to be part of the programs by representatives from Touchdown Productions, with whom Brenau cheer and dance worked on Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, a 2016 Ang Lee movie that filmed in Atlanta.

Britt said she was “incredibly thankful” for both opportunities from Touchdown Productions, and she hopes to continue to build the relationship between the company and Brenau Athletics in the future.

“And I am very thankful that our administration allowed us to participate, especially to (President) Ed Schrader, (Provost) Jim Eck and (Athletic Director) Mike Lochstampfor,” she said. “They could have very easily said no, but instead they helped us make this possible. I think that’s a perk of being at a smaller school. We have the flexibility to do something like this when the opportunity comes up.”

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