You might have seen some familiar faces on screen during the Super Bowl in Atlanta this year. Football players, coaches and celebrities weren’t the only ones in attendance. The Brenau University competitive cheer and dance teams were there, too, standing on the 40-yard line while the national anthem was echoing throughout Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“I think the adrenaline just started to kick in, and the (scale) of the situation started to hit us,” head dance coach Krista Britt said of the experience.
About 35 student-athletes, both current and alumni, took part in the pregame and halftime shows. They held the American flag as Gladys Knight sang the national anthem and were part of the “fan cast” during Maroon 5’s halftime show that featured appearances from rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi.
Holding the flag during the national anthem wasn’t a simple affair. And being on the field for the halftime show wasn’t either: The Brenau crew had to show up for seven separate rehearsals in the days leading up to the game Sunday, Feb. 3. There were four rehearsals at the Georgia World Congress Center, which included “a lot of logistical things” and three rehearsals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“Rehearsals were literally like within 10 days of the Super Bowl,” Britt said. “It was a blast, but it was probably a little bit harder for the girls, just managing their class schedules.”
On top of working out the schedules with classes, the team had to give up some of its normal practice time. But Britt, having been a part of two previous Super Bowl pregame and halftime performances, wanted to make sure the team had the opportunity to experience the same thing.
While at the stadium during rehearsal, Britt said the team was able to interact with the performers. Adam Levine, lead singer of Maroon 5, sang “Happy Birthday” to sophomore cheerleader Lydia Marsh, whose birthday fell on one of the rehearsal days. Others caught guitar picks Levine tossed into the crowd.
“It was a lot of fun,” Britt said. “Especially Adam Levine, he was pretty cool. He was pretty personable, talking to everybody because there was a lot of time that we were standing around waiting for them to figure out what they were doing with props and things like that. So there was a lot of interaction with him, so it was just a really cool experience.”
Brenau got involved with the show when asked by a representative from Touchdown Productions to take part. They only asked about a month-and-a-half ahead of time, so it was a quick turnaround, but Brenau made it happen.
“Because we had done a previous production with them, we were actually the first on their list to call when the Super Bowl came to Atlanta,” Britt said.
Without the help of the university, Britt said they wouldn’t have been able to make it happen for the students.
“They embraced us being asked,” Britt said. “They could have very easily said no because it might be too much of a logistical nightmare with transportation and all that kind of stuff. But they really stepped up and made it an awesome experience.”
And even though she’s seen flyovers at football games before and she’s even been a part of other Super Bowls, Britt said this year’s game was one to remember.
“One of our favorite moments was when we were on the field with flag and they had the flyover when Gladys Knight was singing the national anthem,” Britt said. “That was like, for me, a cold-chill, teary-eyed moment that I’ll never forget … It just kind of all came together for me in that one moment.”