Columbia's Super Bowl connection

By SUSAN AMUNDSON,

Some people dream of going to the Super Bowl just once in their lives, but Lyssa Prine of Columbia has actually been there each of the last eight years.

Yet she doesn’t go to watch the game; for her it is all about the half-time show.

Prine is one of 300 to 600 field team members whose job is to set up and take down stages and platforms for the pre-game, halftime and post-game shows as well as doing the entrance of the teams coming onto the field.

It all began when she was living in New Orleans, and she would do side jobs in the film industry as an extra or a production assistant. When the Super Bowl came to the Big Easy in 2013, she received a call from a production company saying they needed help, and she jumped on board.

And got hooked in the process.

“It’s like magic because you rehearse day in and day out and on game day it all comes together and you get to see it with everyone else because it's live television. It’s a rush, and it’s over just that quick,” Prine said.

While it is a great time, it is not all fun and games. The field team arrives between two and half to three weeks before the game. The team has to be able to assemble the halftime show set in seven minutes flat. The first time she said takes about an hour. They work on it each day, cutting down on the time until they have it right. Once the show is over, they have six minutes to tear it down and get it off the field.

It's about the experience, not money. When Prine started it was strictly volunteers. Now they pay minimum wage according to the state they are working in, but she has to pay for her own lodging and food.

However, the energy is intense, which is one reason why she has so much fun doing it. Each stage is built specifically for the artist and is only used one time. The stage is designed and the process to start building begins in July.

This year the show featured Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. Prine said the set had a large video screen, but both artists did not like the lighting. So Prine said they had to unscrew 250,000 microscrews, take off the panels and replace the lightbulbs.

“It’s just their world; we are living in it,” Prine said with a chuckle.

When it comes to the stars, though, there are strict rules. She said they are told to treat the performers as if they are the boss. Another one is to remember this is the star’s biggest night.

“Some stars will interact with you; others will not,” Prine said.

She has met her favorite artist: Lady Gaga.

Other artists she has met include Justin Timberlake and Chris Martin with Coldplay. She has come in contact with all of them, but Lady Gaga, Timberlake and Martin are the ones she has interacted with.

“Her first time in the stadium, she was walking out with her crew, and I am a huge Lady Gaga fan. I put my paw up, her fan thing, and she saw me and she bear hugged me. She whispered in my ear ‘Watch what I am about to do,'” Prine recalled.

Lady Gaga then proceeded to run around the entire field, giving all of the workers a high five. Prine said in her opinion Lady Gaga was the best one to work for so far.

She also said working with Adam Levine, Bruno, Justin Timberlake and Cold Play were good, too. The ones she said were more difficult and most like divas were Beyoncé, Katy Perry and J’Lo. Her favorite show was definitely Lady Gaga, which was the also the toughest, but her least favorite show was Coldplay. She said that was probably because she isn’t a fan of the band's music.

“Adam Levine had ADHD, and he just could not stop,” she said.

At the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, Justin Timberlake was performing. For the field team members he brought in catering and had a s’mores bar for them, which she said was great because it was very cold that year.

The members do not get field access during the game, so they either watch from the tunnels or on monitors. At the two-minute warning just before halftime, the adrenaline starts flowing, Prine said.

They get to watch the show from the sidelines, so they can be close to the set when the performance is finished.

She doesn’t really interact with the football players; usually for pre-game she does the team entrance and is there when they run out. However, she sees more of the former players.

“This year I ran into Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ray Lewis, Deion (Sanders). It’s just random; they’ll be in the tunnels just weaving in and out. I ran into Cam Jordan; he’s my favorite Saints player,” she said.

After the game she also runs into stars coming to congratulate the players. She saw Kevin Hart, Robert Craft, Jon Bon Jovi and Paul Rudd, as well as Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.

Not only did she get to do the Super Bowl this year, she also worked at the NCAA National Championship where LSU won. At that game, President Trump was there as well.

“The place erupted. It was so loud,” she said.

What makes her keep doing this every year is the people she has met and worked with. Lifelong friends have been made, and she has gone to visit them in Indianapolis and California. It is mostly the same crew at each game, and she said they share lodging and meals together.

The day of the Super Bowl is long. The crew meets at an offsite location around 1 p.m. and are escorted by police into the stadium. After the game the crew are placed on buses and escorted by state troopers. Her day ends around midnight.

“They close down the highways. It’s a big deal. It’s an event of national security, so everybody is there. FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, drug sniffing dogs, you name it, they are there,” she said.

One thing she collects and bring back is a bag of confetti from the field and gives it away to someone.

When not putting together stages, she is home in Columbia and working at the Hattiesburg Clinic.

Next year the Super Bowl is in Tampa. Will Prine be there?

You better believe it: She's waiting for the phone call in October and November to go to work. 

Pictured Above: Lyssa Prine shows off confetti from one of the Super Bowls she worked. | Photo Submitted