Carla Johnson: POM Business
Can you tell us about your background and career in sports?
I have dance team choreography, Direction and production on a large scale experience with a variety of professional sports brands to include:Super Bowl XXXVII, National Football League – Team Captain, Choreographer and Events lead, tenured cheerleader, guest choreographer, community events lead - Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders(’02),Arena Bowl XI, Arena Football League -Director of in-game entertainment, events & entertainment teams management (’98),NFL, National Football League – Current Buccaneers GMR- Team lead, Four Star Difference Makers Award (Suites),Buccaneers sales team, training camp team member, co-author of inaugural Junior Cheerleaders program (’98- current),NFL Alumni – Tampa Bay Chapter Cheerleaders(’16) Coordinator, Annual youth events coordinator (’06-current),AFL, Arena Football League (Storm) –Manager of special events, entertainment teams, marketing associate. (’98-’02),NIFL, National Indoor Football League –Events Coordinator, Director of game entertainment (’07),AIFL, American Indoor Football – Marketing Coordinator, Events associate (’05),ABA, American Basketball Association (Strong Dogs, Rain) – Events coordinator, All Star Game Ent. Coord. (’07-’12),MLB, Major League Baseball (Rays)- Entertainment auditions consultant. (’12),XFC, Xtreme Fighting Championships- National and European tours logistics, talent coordinator. (’09)
What made you audition for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleading team?
My dance background included extensive studio training in Jazz,Tap, Ballet, Modern and Hip Hop, while participating in the studio's performance team for several seasons, high school dance team (Captain and choreographer) and cheerleading squad (Captain). After graduating college I was a Captain for the Arena Football League's Tampa Bay Storm Cheerleaders and was promoted from within to Director and Choreographer of the Tampa Bay Storm Cheerleaders. I wanted the opportunity to do the same for the National Football League. I'd done stage, camera and special event dance productions on a smaller scale in high school and college, but wanted the opportunity to excel in the NFL. I was a Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleader Captain and guest choreographer for five seasons, creating half-time, end zone and timeout material for the squad and Junior Buccaneers Cheerleaders. I was honored to receive the "Outstanding Choreography" Award three of the five seasons I cheered.
You were on the team when the Buccaneers went and won the Super Bowl in 2003. What was that experience like; from the energy of the team- to the trip home after the victory?
Surreal is the best way to describe the experience. From the moment we received confirmation that we were participating in the Super Bowl, everything was full speed ahead. As a Captain it was my responsibility to choreograph sideline and appearance material for a variety of Super Bowl festivities. As Captain the responsibilities began the moment we knew we were "Going to the big show". I wouldn't claim being nervous because I knew the team depended on us to make the most outstanding representation possible while vying for the title. Over 30 sidelines had to be crafted and memorized, along with preparing for a whirlwind championship schedule.
The game truly was electric. Tampa Bay fans were easy to spot within a sea of red in the stadium. That support certainly kept us motivated during the game to be our absolute best cheering the Buccaneers team towards what would be a monumental victory! There were small spaces of time that I could actually soak up the magnificence of the moment, but my Captain's hat was on so I literally had to focus on logistics and my teammates a great deal of the time.
When we realized we were champions and the clock finally reached 0:00, I was finally able to breathe. The post buzzer Bon Jovi performance was the best as I celebrated with 29 other women that I had spent so much time preparing for and with. It was a moment of a lifetime and I still remember that feeling as the victory confetti poured over us!
BACK HOME: The support from the fans at home upon our return was amazing. As our plane descended into Tampa from San Diego,the pilot made an "in the moment" decision to fly us over Raymond James Stadium where an at capacity crowd awaited our return. Around the perimeter of the stadium we could see miles and miles of cars with our fans partying in the street, flashing lights, waving Bucs flags and cheering as loudly as they could for us as we flew overhead. BucsVision showed our plane as we flew over and the crowd went wild!
THE RING: The Buccaneers organization made certain we also were gifted with the official Tiffany and Co. Super Bowl XXXVII ring. The ring ceremony was amazing and I remember it vividly.
From this experience, you would go on to develop Cheer Girl Entertainment and later, Game Day Glamorous. Can you tell us about each respective brand?
Established in 2003, Cheer Girl Entertainment has become one of the leading providers of choreography in the Tampa Bay area as well as nationally. CGE has become a notable provider of impeccable talent, stage productions, freelance choreography, and facilitator of dancer and cheerleader camps. CGE directs dance conventions to include Boot Camp Dance (BCD) and Pro Cheer Prep, a professional sports dancer and cheerleader auditions prep program, both hosted in Tampa, FL. Notable clients include the NFL,NFL Alumni, AFL, ABA, NIFL,AIFA, MLB, MMA-XFC,Home Shopping Network, Firestone Grand Prix, Ferman BMW/Mini, Tampa Fashion Week, Improv Comedy Club, University ofTampa, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs of America,City of Tampa, Girl Scouts of America and more! I am the current NFL Alumni Tampa Bay Chapter’s Cheerleader Coordinator and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Alumni Cheerleaders Co-Chair.
Game Day Glamorous is CGE’s sister organization developed BY Pro Cheerleaders FOR Pro Cheerleaders. GDG is the home of the Pro Cheerleader Development League providing training to Pro Cheerleader hopefuls in three markets(Tampa,Mia and Jacksonville). PCDL Training is comprehensive and prepares candidates in the area of performance instruction, public relations, camera readiness skills and more. Both the Pro Cheer Prep and PCDL programs have produced numerous candidates that have made it on to the squads of the pro sports entertainment sidelines. Game day Glamorous has also produced stage productions for a variety of clients to include Rhonda Shear (HSN - Ahh Bra) , Essence Flowers(TBBC swimsuit calendars) , Sandra Gray (E! Total Divas)
Why was it important for you to develop and prepare women for the professional ranks?
It is a personal goal of mine to make certain to share the knowledge I've gained working with several professional sports brands in a variety of leagues. My experiences are so vast and I feel blessed to have had those opportunities. It warms my heart to see the transformation in women that we work with, whether they make a squad or not, the life skills learned in the program extend far beyond the dancing.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned personally, and in business?
Personally I have learned that it is never a good idea to want success for someone more than they want it for themselves. It is truly disappointing to see someone's potential more clearly than they do. I have learned to encourage and be fully vested, but pay special attention to the work being put in by the candidate.
In business - I have a soft spot for people who have experienced adversity. I have learned that business is business as it relates to having a soft spot for candidates and potential clients. We want to provide impeccable training, and experiences, but never to the detriment of either brand.
What motivates you? What inspires you?
I am motivated by new challenges and recognition of fair opportunity. I am inspired by others in my field who reach commercial domestic and international success. I am also inspired by others willing to work together to achieve each other's goals.
You can learn more about Cheer Girl Entertainment and Game Day Glamorous visit all of the socials:
Cheer Girl Entertainment
IG and Twitter @cheergirlent
FaceBook Cheer Girl Entertainment
Programs : Pro Cheer Prep - Coterie performance squad - Bellissima Pro Cheer Alumni
Game Day Glamorous
IG and Twitter @gglamorous
FaceBook Game Day Glamorous
Programs: Pro Cheerleader Development League - Event Production services - Pom Stars Your PRO cheer program
(fashion shows, stage production choreography, auditions prep programming)