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Bucs add local teen to bring on cheer

Recent Springstead High grad Tiffany Jimenez now spends game days on the sidelines, showing her spirit.

By LOGAN NEILL
Published September 5, 2006


[Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers]
Tiffany Jimenez says her dance training is a strength she brings to the cheer squad.

SPRING HILL - Tiffany Jimenez didn't get to see much of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' first preseason game at Raymond James Stadium in August. There she was, just a few feet from where the Bucs were battling the New York Jets, and she was facing away from the action.

Though Jimenez's eyes may have been missing the game on the field, her ears told her all she needed to know.

"I found out pretty quickly how much noise 65,000 people can make when they get excited," said the 18-year-old Spring Hill resident, one of the newest members of the Bucs cheerleading squad. "It definitely gets you pumped up."

Pumping people up is precisely what Jimenez was brought on board to do. The Buccaneers organization selected her in May, shortly before her graduation from Springstead High School, to join the 28-member squad. The Bucs told her it would be a demanding job with grueling workouts and practice sessions, and an on-the-go schedule that would fill every day of her life during the NFL season.

For Jimenez, a former Springstead High cheerleader who competed in the 2006 National High School Cheerleading Competition - and received the school's Spirit Award - it was a no-brainer.

"Fortunately, I had the experience knowing what it takes to put a great team together," Jimenez said. "I was ready for anything."

Before making the squad, Jimenez first had to endure several auditions. After each one, she prepared herself for the fact that she might not make the cut.

"I'd show up for an audition and see the other girls who came out and say to myself, 'You're too young; there's no way they're going to take you.'"

At 18, Jimenez is the youngest Bucs cheerleader. However, having been a dancer since the age of 2, she thinks that her skills are on par with the more experienced members of the squad.

"Dancing is a huge part of what we do on the field, and I think it's one of my greatest strengths," said Jimenez, who said she has had to master more than 20 dance routines since joining the squad.

Jimenez, who plans to begin business classes at Pasco-Hernando Community College in January, admits that the nonpaying job of a Bucs cheerleader makes for a demanding life. Each week, she attends at least two squad practices, plus daily workouts. During the season, the cheerleaders may make as many as a dozen personal appearances each week.

"One of the things I'm proudest of is that the Bucs are very involved in community-oriented projects," Jimenez said. "I've always liked being able to help people, and this allows me to do much more of that than I ever thought possible."

Jimenez, who considers herself a die-hard fan of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey club, never actually attended a Bucs game before the August preseason opener. It was just one of those things, she said.

"I watched the Bucs on TV a lot, but somehow never made it to a game," she said.

Logan Neill can be reached at 352 848-1435 or lneill@sptimes.com.

[Last modified September 4, 2006, 20:17:01]


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