Cheerleader of the Week 2017: Zhanna

Posted Sep 13, 2017

Meet the Colts Cheerleader of the Week: Zhanna

For Zhanna, year two brings new opportunities as a Colts cheerleader – along with new responsibilities.

“I love it. It’s great and this year, I know what to expect,” she says. “But there’s also that pressure that you’re a vet now – there’s no mistakes, you have to make sure you lead by example because you have rookies that look up to you. It doesn’t really matter if it’s year two or year five – you’re expected to know the ropes now.”

You’re also expected to help the rookies learn the ropes.

“I know I asked vets lots of questions last year. They helped me out so much. Now, I hope I can be as helpful as the vets were to me.”

And game day presents the perfect opportunity.

“The rookies, when they walked into their first game, their eyes just got so big. I’m sure they were overwhelmed, but I was like, ‘Just keep breathing. It’ll be ok. We’re going to get through this.’”

On Sunday, they get to experience it for real.   

“The first game of the preseason is nerve-wracking because it’s your first game. But the first regular season game is a whole different ballgame,” she says. “When that first regular season game kicks off, you have a whole different type of adrenaline rushing through your blood. You’re feeding off the fans’ energy. And that’s the best.”

This year, Zhanna is also taking on a bigger role with Junior Cheer.

“I have my own squad and I have my 16 little girls that I absolutely love. It feels like home whenever I get to come in to a Saturday workshop and I see 16 smiling faces.”

Working with young girls comes natural to Zhanna. It’s what she does as a gymnastics coach. And she uses her experience as a gymnast to help guide her girls in the gym and beyond.

“I tell them, ‘We’re not all going to go to the Olympics. I had that dream of going to the Olympics,’” she says. “Gymnastics preps you to do other things.”

Gymnastics prepared Zhanna to become a Colts cheerleader – and inspire her young gymnasts in new ways.

“They actually asked me, ‘Maybe we should do something nice like volunteer,’” she says. “I think that’s my platform. If I can inspire girls to not just do it for the aspect of being pretty and dancing, but also to involve you in the community because it’s good to help others.”

Being a Colts cheerleader is about more than dancing on the sideline. It’s become more of Zhanna’s life than she bargained for – and she encourages other girls to give it a try.    

“I know we always talk about how awesome it is and that we have this sisterhood and how much we do for the community. But I feel like you just have to come out to those workshops to audition and truly experience it.”

It’s an experience Zhanna doesn’t take for granted. 

“Sometime, I know my time will end and I’ll have to do other things,” she says. “I’m dreading it. I’m like, ‘Ok. How many more years do I have in me?’ But for now, I’m really cherishing year two.”

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