Cheerleader of the Week 2016: Mariah

Meet the Colts Cheerleader of the Week

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Mariah grew up in Bedford, Indiana. "Your typical Indiana small town," she says.

Her mother claims she's been a dancer her whole life. Even at two years old, she was already a student of dance – picking up moves while watching her mom rehearse with the worship team at church.

"She gave me a little ribbon to dance with. She was doing the dances and she turned around at one point and I was doing the dance move for move with her."

At three years old, her mom enrolled her in her first dance class and prepared her well.

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"I would get in trouble if I looked at the teacher. She was like, 'You practiced. You know your dance. Do it.'"

Mariah danced competitively with her studio in Bloomington all through high school and won back-to-back national titles her junior and senior year.

Her mom was always her biggest supporter and her biggest fan.

Highlights from Mariah's 2017 Colts Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendar Shoot. (Cataract General Store - Spencer, IN)

"She did cheer and dance in school growing up, but her way of giving back to me was getting to do the things that her family couldn't afford. She's your typical stage mom – she was always there. She hasn't missed a single game since I've been a cheerleader."

By the time she graduated from high school, Mariah was burned out on dance. She gave it up during her freshman year at IUPUI and quickly realized how much she missed it.

"It was the worst year of my entire life," she says. "I was so involved and then once you just stop, your life changes completely. I wasn't working out, I wasn't doing anything."

During that time, there was a Colts cheerleader from her hometown, Hannah Y., whose journey she had been following. Hannah invited her to attend one of the audition prep clinics and that was all it took.

"It rejuvenated my love for dancing and I was like, 'This is something that I have to do.' I think that was kind of my fuel for auditions that year."

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Now finishing her fourth season, she says her experience as a Colts cheerleader has been a significant part of her life at a significant time in her life.

"I started out one of the youngest girls on the team and now, I'm kind of average age. It was a very important part of my life, that transition from being a high schooler to a college student. So, I think having all of those peers who shaped me into the person I am today is the thing I love most about it."

This week, Mariah is representing the Colts at the Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida. It's the highest honor bestowed on an NFL cheerleader. She says being selected by her teammates is both an honor and humbling.

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After watching those who came before her, she says becoming a member of the Pro Bowl sisterhood is a dream come true.

"I saw how much it meant to them and how hard they worked when they got to do it," she says. "I was always like, 'That's something that I would absolutely love the opportunity to get to do.' Now that I get to do it, it's surreal."

Mariah has danced her way from small town Indiana to the NFL Pro Bowl.

And she hasn't taken one step for granted.

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