Hola Colts Fanáticos! Le mando saludos del soleado Puerto Rico.
Hi, Colts fans! I send my regards from sunny Puerto Rico. I am thrilled to be your Cheerleader of the Week and share with you a little bit about my life and adventures on the Colts Cheerleading team.
I am blessed to be on the Colts Cheerleading team for a third year as a 'Sweetheart of the Horseshoe.' I was one of the lucky ten chosen to go on the Armed Forces Entertainment tour to Curacao and Puerto Rico. I learned so much about the men and women who serve our country and sacrifice for us every single day. I specifically enjoyed my time spent with the families and their children. Those that I met during the tour left lasting memories that I cherish and will never forget. I have also made lasting memories with my teammates during Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis and during the calendar shoot in Mexico this year, just to name a few. One unique opportunity I had last year on the team was to be featured and on the cover of a Spanish magazine in town called "La Prensa." Now a little bit about my Latina background!
I was born on a naval base in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, where I lived until my father's job transferred our family to Indiana. I was seven years old when we moved to Zionsville, and I did not know any English. It was definitely a difficult adjustment that first year with the language barrier and culture change, but it made me a stronger woman. I am blessed with two younger sisters, a loving mother and father, a supportive husband, and of course, my sweet puppy, Indy. I grew up in a typical Puerto Rican household full of laughter and lots of food. I have an amazing husband, who comes from a big Catholic family, which fit right into the big family culture I grew up in.
My dance background is unique, as I started at the later age of ten years old and performed the Spanish dances of merengue, salsa, and bomba (native Puerto Rican Dance) on a Puerto Rican dance team locally for a few years. In middle school and high school, I expanded to being a part of the cheerleading team and various dance teams that included jazz, lyrical, and hip-hop. In college, at Purdue University, I came back to my roots and competed on the ballroom dance team achieving titles in cha-cha and rumba. One of my greatest dance achievements was when I began my Latin American Dance Team at Cathedral High School. I am proud to say it is still going on today.
I couldn't have achieved all that I have without the support from God, family, and friends. Thank you all for your love and support to help me to where I am today. Special thanks to the Colts organization as well. I am truly blessed to be a part of such an amazing organization and the best fans in the NFL!
What's your favorite thing about Puerto Rico and does it relate to Indy at all?
There is not just one favorite thing about Puerto Rico, so I will go with two of my favorite things. One being the amazing food such as mofongo (a plantain shell stuffed with any meat and sauce of choice) and helado de coco (coconut ice cream) and these are just a few of my favorite foods. My second favorite thing about Puerto Rico is the beauty and weather of the island. Sorry Indiana, you just don't have the amazing beaches that are found in Puerto Rico. One of the things that does relate is the warmness and hospitality of the people in Indiana and Puerto Rico.
During the recent Military Tour that some of the team went on, you all visited a military base in Puerto Rico. What was it like returning to your home country, especially a place similar to where you were born and raised at?
The military tour in Puerto Rico was so special for me in so many ways. With being born on a military base similar to the bases we went to, it was just very surreal to think that when I was young, that was what my life looked like. Especially when meeting the little girls at the kid's camp that we put on. I really connected with the little girls as I was them at one point in my life, and it warmed my heart to spend time with them. It was very special for me to meet the men and women as well, who serve our country, and some had worked at the base where I was born. It was an experience that I will never forget filled with touching memories.
What's it like walking out of the tunnel on game days?
Walking out of the tunnel is so exciting! It is a rush of adrenaline and happy emotions that are hard to explain. I remember my first time running out of the tunnel and feeling as if everything stopped and was in slow motion. I was just taking in every second, and after that, I always think of that moment in time and how blessed I felt. I still get that feeling every time.
What are your plans for bye week?
During bye week, I will be working my normal work hours. I work fulltime as a recruiter for a financial planning company. I will also have practice with my teammates to prepare for the November 16th home game against the Patriots. Big game for us! I also have ballroom dance class with my husband that week.
You started your own business with your husband called 'Plan the Day.' What's some advice you can give to any aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
'Plan the Day' is a wedding planning application that combines collaboration and integrated tools in order to improve the planning experience and create a centralized platform for brides and vendors to communicate. Advice I would give aspiring entrepreneurs is to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Outsource the work that you are not the strongest at and just go for it! Without risk there is no reward!
Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader: Cristina