INDIANAPOLIS –While the Colts football team will spend the next four months trimming a roster from 90 players to 53, another Colts squad finalized their 2013 roster on Wednesday night.
"It's definitely a relief to have the team finalized but it was hard because we had 49 beautiful, talented women that made finals for a reason," Colts Cheerleading Manager Kelly Tilley said.
"I'm really happy for the team that we have. They are very talented. They are very professional. They excelled in every single category so I'm excited to get the season started."
Tilley announced the team at the conclusion of the two-hour long showcase with families and friends cheering feverishly for the hopefuls.
For the third straight season, Allegra J. was one of the lucky few that survived the suspense.
"I'm beyond excited," she said. "I was really nervous back there. You never know what can happen but I gave it my all and I think obviously it worked out for the best. I'm proud of this new team and new season."
A group of over 200 women was trimmed down over the past few months and the 49 finalists were announced on March 23.
The 2013 Final Cheerleading Audition Showcase on Wednesday took place at the Hilbert Circle Theatre and began with each of the 49 girls being individually introduced by the emcees of the night--1070 The Fan radio personality JMV and former Colts cheerleader Megan M.
Following Wednesday night's individual introductions, the women were split up into groups of three and they performed a short dance for those in attendance.
Individual performances were next on the agenda as each woman presented a 15-20 second routine.
After a brief appearance by the Colts Mascot Blue, or "Contestant No. 50--Sapphire", it was onto the swimsuit portion of the evening.
Each woman modeled a swimsuit of their choice before stepping forward and posing for the audience, while background information was read on the finalist.
An intermission followed and the time was used for the 14 judges to gather and decide on the 2013 squad. The panel included Colts tight end Dwayne Allen, Tina Pagano (wife of head coach Chuck Pagano), Cynthia Grigson (wife of general manager Ryan Grigson), Vice Chair/Owner Carlie Irsay-Gordon and Vice Chair/Owner Kalen Irsay.
When the judges emerged, it was time for the announcement the women had been waiting for since training began back in January.
Tilley read off the 26 names just outside of the dressing room but anytime for celebration was put on hold as the new squad gathered as one to perform their initial routine as the 2013 Colts Cheerleading Team.
"To be here now was definitely worth all the time, all the stress, everything," team member Kaiti C. said amidst rejoicing with family and friends. "It was definitely worth it now and I'm just excited for the first home game as a rookie Colts cheerleader."
The team will make its first appearance this Friday at the CHUCKSTONG Gala and an orientation, along with a team training camp, will shortly follow.
For Tilley and all the women, the past four months have been all about new experiences with this being the coach's first year in Indianapolis.
It's a new era for Colts cheerleading and Tilley couldn't help but smile when looking out at her team members celebrating with their friends and families.
"For all of them this year, it maybe felt like a rookie season because I am new and they all had to earn their start from scratch because I didn't know anything about any of them," Tilley said.
"The girls that have never been on the team before, to see their faces when you announce the team is such a joy for me."