Renn Arvanitis enjoys three things: his family, dancing and football. He will combine all three on Sunday as he lines up for the Cincinnati Bengals for Super Bowl LVI, but his lifelong dream was nearly shattered long before he was selected by the Bengals star QB Joe Burrow.
Arvanitis, 24, had a torn piece of bone near the arch of his foot six months before his debut for the Ben-Gals, the fourth team. Bengals fans.
“When I got the news a few weeks later it was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ you can see your dreams shattered in front of you,” he said. “I don’t know if I can go back and do this. I talked to my doctor and he was like, you know, it’s a really tough tendon to tear, and it’s not completely done.”
Fortunately, her doctor did a lot of tests on the former dancers, and she was in perfect health before her auditions in 2019.
Dance is a lifelong journey the Schererville, Indiana native says she was born into.
“My mother was always a dancer when she was little,” Arvanitis said of her mother, Miss Robin. “She danced her whole life and went on to become a teacher.”
But having a mentor for life is a great blessing as he prepares for a lifelong goal. She missed the fun at Lake Central High School and did one year of dance before graduating from Purdue Northwest in 2019.
“I am blessed because he has a lot of knowledge. Even doing the role model when there are things (I’ve questioned), it’s like having a best friend there, and you know he’s going to be honest,” he said. Arvanitis. “I feel lucky that she had many dance lessons. I knew where I had to go to train to get the best possible education.”
He tried out in his last year of college and found out he made the team the same weekend as graduation. He was educated at Patti’s All-American in Dyer, where he currently teaches.
“It was really cool because I was in the classroom I’ve been in all my life and (my mom) has been my teacher all my life,” he said.
He began his career as a Raiders cheerleader at Pop Warner. Now he says his family are lifelong Bengals fans.
Since making the team, Arvanitis has been training twice a week in Cincinnati, a four-hour drive one way. He loads up on Spotify playlists and true crime podcasts to pass the time, but it’s priceless when he gets there.
“This is one of those situations where every day I walk into the stadium, I don’t believe that I will live this life,” he said. “I step on the field and I’m like, ‘How did I get so lucky to do this?'”
Some hobbies have nothing to do with sports. They have weekend events throughout the year that they attend in costume, whether it’s a picnic, kids camp or something else.
“I don’t think I realize how lucky I am to do that until you’re in that situation and you realize, ‘Wow, I’m helping people and inspiring people,'” Arvanitis said. “I remember standing there when I was a kid, and I saw that entertainer like a Disney princess and now I’m that.”
The performers are a team of their own with a roster of 30. Arvanitis is one of several who travel long distances to make his dream come true.
“Brotherhood is amazing. The women on the team just inspire me every day,” she said. “Whenever you’re feeling down, someone texts and says, ‘Hey, I’m thinking. to you.’ Various inspirations or motivations. Everyone motivates me to be better every day because I’m so lucky to be surrounded by so many talented people in their own ways.”
Arvanitis said he has become a celebrity and neighbors, friends and strangers have pledged their Bengals support to him. The Cinderella story helps, winning their first game since 1991 and making one more, winning each playoff game leading up to the Super Bowl.
“When we finally got the last field goal my dad yelled, ‘You’re going to the Super Bowl,’ in his football voice,” she said of her father, Tim. “I was crying. It was the best time of my life. Maybe I’ll have another great time when I go to the Super Bowl.”
The week began in Cincinnati with a preseason game at the Bengals’ stadium. There have been other shows since flying to Los Angeles, including Good Morning America.
“It’s like a big party in Cincinnati,” he said. “The energy right now is better than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
Sunday may be high as he continues his dream.
“If you’re planning to go for a dream, go for it,” Arvanitis said. “A few years ago, I never would have expected to get to this point or do these things.”
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