Cheerleader of the Week 2016: Ayda

Meet the Colts Cheerleader of the Week

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A woman of the world, Ayda was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey.

"I had an amazing childhood," she says. "Turkey is beautiful. We were born and raised on the water. If it wasn't for my twin sister, I probably would still be home. I'm very close to our family."

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When she and her sister were 14, they enrolled in a private international high school in Sedona, Arizona.

"There were people from Germany, China, all over Asia," she says. "It was 100 kids in total, but we probably had over 30 countries represented."

The red rocks were a drastic change from a city of 18 million people, but she thrived in her new world.

"When we went to high school, every day we had to do a sport after classes. So, I picked soccer, which I loved from Turkey, and dance."

At age 15, Ayda was starting her dance career later in life, but it was something she had interest in early on.

"When I was three years old, I started music. I loved piano, but whenever we would take a break, I would sneak out and watch the ballerinas take their classes and just admire what they were doing. So, I knew that it was something that was in my heart always."

And once she started, she was determined to make up for lost time.

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"You definitely need to have the gift, but you have to have the passion too. I think the fact that I wanted it so much, I worked so hard - I just closed that gap of knowledge and experience, I guess. I started also doing studio dance around that same time in addition to high school and just caught up somehow."

She and her sister attended Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana, where Ayda majored in business and communications and danced on the dance team. When they graduated, they both stayed in Indiana.

She got a job with Cummins and during the 2011-2012 season, she decided to audition for the Pacers. She made the team, but never became a Pacemate due to a restriction in her Visa.

"I had to wait another five or six years until I had my green card. I had to put my dreams to rest a little bit and just focus on my career," she says. "I never stopped practicing. My passion didn't decrease by any means."

She continued to dance and when she finally got her green card in November of 2015, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.

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"I looked up the auditions and decided pretty last minute that I was going to try out for the Colts," she says. "When I thought about the two organizations as a whole, I just felt like I was a good match with the Colts at this point."

It's been almost a year now and she only looks back to reflect on the experience and how much she's grown from it.

"I still remember when I first walked in here – everything from the look to the smell, it stuck in my head and that week was so intense in so many ways. I will remember this for the rest of my life," she says. "It's personal growth for me and something that literally puts a smile on my face."

Highlights from Ayda's 2017 Colts Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendar Shoot. (Morocco, IN)

A woman of the world, Ayda is now a woman who calls two countries home.

"Over the years, Indiana has really become that and the Colts have been such a big part of it. You just have another family - the Colts are family now. It feels awesome."

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