INDIANAPOLIS – As the numbers were read off one-by-one and the smiles began to form, the dreams of 28 hopeful NFL cheerleaders became a reality.
Emerging from the back hallways of the Hilbert Circle Theatre was the 2014 Colts Cheerleading Squad, making their introduction as a team on Thursday night for the first of what will be numerous appearances over the next year.
"I'm so excited right now," Colts Cheerleader Manager Kelly Tilley said minutes after selecting her squad.
"Every group that came out tonight I thought really brought it, really practiced their routines, looked great and it made it really hard for us to decipher between those 28 members."
Former Colts Cheerleader Megan M. and Colts punter Pat McAfee emceed Thursday Night's Showcase.
In typical McAfee fashion, he kept the crowd laughing all night long before the suspense of who made the 2014 squad was announced.
"It's absolutely awesome to see these women that love the Colts and the organization just as much as I do and the fans do," McAfee said.
"It's been awesome to be up here, entertain their families and some fans, but most importantly to see a lot of these girls have their dreams come true. We are excited to have them on the sideline with us.
Selecting the members that fans will see at Lucas Oil Stadium was a strenuous process for Tilley, who is in her second year with the Colts.
The showcase began with 46 finalists being introduced to the crowd before the judging took place.
With celebrity judges including Tina Pagano (wife of Chuck Pagano), Cynthia Grigson (wife of Ryan Grigson), tight end Dwayne Allen, Vice-Chair/Owner Carlie-Irsay Gordon and Kalen Irsay watching, the finalists were evaluated on three categories.
Groups of three first performed a choreographed dance that each lasted about a minute long.
Next up was a 15-20 second individual talent performance, which included some impressive tap dancing routines on display.
Lastly, was the swimsuit portion of the showcase and with the conclusion of that came time for the judges to head off to deliberate.
When the numbers and faces of the 2014 squad were introduced to the crowd at the Hilbert Circle Theatre, it was pretty clear who the rookies were being "Welcomed to the NFL."
"I'm filled with so much joy," a smiling rookie Megan R. said.
"I was so nervous back stage waiting for the judges to finish up and it's just a sense of relief. I've been dreaming of this for a long time. It's a great dream I fulfilled."[
CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THURSDAY NIGHT'S SHOWCASE](http://www.colts.com/photos/photo-gallery/Cheer---2014-Cheerleader-Showcase/5336b1c9-8b0f-4c8d-8025-d2eb5b326b3c)
The highlight of Thursday Night's Showcase came when the Colts Cheerleaders performed a routine with their friends from the Fierce All Stars and Down Syndrome Indiana.
A portion of Thursday night's proceeds benefited Down Syndrome Indiana serving as another indication of what all is encompassed with being a Colts cheerleader.
The ten home games fans see at Lucas Oil Stadium is just a small sample of the appearances these women will make over the next year.
"The ultimate goal for these ladies is for them to leave after this season and think that this was one of the best opportunities they've ever been given," Tilley said.
"They have a lot to contribute to this community and I want them to leave after this season feeling that they really made a difference in other people's lives and feel that they were a part of something big, a team and a sisterhood that will always be there for them."