Port resident Holly Adams, the new cheerleading co-coach at Port Washington High School, was a cheerleader for the Indianapolis Colts, and has a Super Bowl ring to prove it.
Don’t expect Port Washington resident Holly Adams to cheer for the Green Bay Packers any time soon.
Her job for three years — in addition to being a kindergarten teacher — was cheering for her hometown favorite NFL team, the Indianapolis Colts.
Dressed in a skimpy, white, fringed skirt with a rhinestone belt, a blue halter top with rhinestones, short, white, fringed vest and white cowboy boots, she showed her midriff, shook sparkling pompons and danced on the field with 35 to 40 other Colts cheerleaders.
The highlight of her career, Adams said, was when the Colts beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, to win Super Bow XLI in Miami.
She has a Super Bowl ring that she wears occasionally, especially when she’s with her parents, who have season tickets to Colts games and paid $600 per ticket to cheer their daughter and team at the Super Bowl.
Adams has a photo of her and her husband with the Super Bowl trophy.
“Even more exciting was the game we won to get there,” she said.
The Colts beat New England, 38-34, to capture the AFC championship erasing an 18-point deficit by scoring 32 points in the second half.
Adams said she could barely talk by the end of that game because she cheered so loudly.
“They set off fireworks and confetti was everywhere. It was unreal,” she said. “I was standing in the middle of the field and thought, ‘Did that really happen? Was I really part of it?’”
It was such an exciting season that Adams debated whether to audition for a third year. She did. The highlight of the 2008 season was opening a new stadium, she said.
It was her last season as a professional cheerleader. Her husband got a job in Wisconsin and they moved to Port Washington.
She can still do all the routines she learned and will teach some of them to cheerleaders at Port Washington High School.
Adams and Sandy Daevel, an eighth-grade English and history teacher at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, will co-coach the squad. Try-outs are scheduled for this month.
The student try-outs will be a lot different than the ones Adams had to do each year to earn a spot with the Colts, but the butterflies will be similar, she said.
Adams was a cheerleader in high school and middle school, but took four years off to earn a degree in elementary education at Indiana University.
Her first year out of college, Adams and her best friend decided to audition to be Colts cheerleaders.
“I had gone to games for years with my parents, and I always watched the cheerleaders more than the game,” she said.
“We said, ‘Let’s just try,’ and we both made it.”
The audition lasted one month, she said. “We went through all kinds of dance routines and interviews. It was almost like a pageant, with evening wear and a bathing suit,” Adams said.
“At the end of each week, you would call a hotline and listen for your number. It was nerve-wracking. We had to try out each year, and they expected more of you the second and third years.”
Some NFL teams only allow cheerleaders to stay three years, Adams said. A woman she cheered with is in her seventh year.
The hoopla surrounding the final selections became more elaborate each year, she said.
Her last year, they were in a room and as their numbers were called, they went on stage to cheers and clapping. When the last number was called, the others were left behind a closed door, she said.
“It was heart-breaking for them,” she said.
Adams isn’t sure if she would have tried for a fourth year had she not moved.
“It’s very difficult, very time-consuming, but it was fun and I made some really good friends,” she said.
“It’s difficult to walk away and then go back to watch. The games are never the same. The girls I was with were on the field cheerleading, and I felt that’s where I belonged.”
The cheerleaders perform at all home games. The only away games they can cheer at are the Super Bowl and Hall of Fame games, Adams said.
She was paid $50 per game and expected to make 15 appearances that ranged from charity events to corporate golf outings. She received additional compensation for more than 15 appearances.
Just keeping in shape was demanding, she said.
“There were a lot of workouts, a lot of fitness training,” Adams said. “It was about having fun and being able to entertain the crowd.
“The Colts cheerleaders are a little more conservative than most (NFL cheerleaders), but there definitely was midriff showing.”
She loved the different uniforms, which included white chaps, a blue-and-silver Santa outfit, camouflage and other costumes.
But she had to give everything back to the Colts when she hung up her pompons.
Daevel said Adams will be the creative director for the cheerleading squad.
“I’m hoping to think up some new cheers as well as some of the traditional ones,” Adams said. “I plan to get my old cheerleading videos out.”
Daevel, who has been teaching at the middle school since 2001, was a varsity and middle school cheerleading coach and also held a cheerleading clinic during summer school.
She quit coaching to take care of her sons, Isaac, 3, and Amari, 2. When there was an opening this year for a high school cheerleading coach, her husband looked at her and said, “You really want to do this don’t you?”
She did, but she didn’t want to do it alone. When she learned Adams was also interested, they decided to coach together.
They both respect the dance team, which has lured cheerleaders away, but said cheerleading is different. It’s not as much about performing as showing support for the team and inspiring others to cheer, Daevel said.
Adams, a kindergarten teacher in Whitefish Bay, said she’s looking forward to working with the team and teaching them some new routines.
“It will be fun to have something to put my energy into,” she said.