Yuka came into Colts Cheer a young woman from Japan chasing her dream of cheering for an NFL team.
She faced obstacles along the way – not the least of which, a language barrier that made it difficult for her to get to know her teammates at first.
Still, she wouldn't change a thing.
"There were a lot of ups and downs, like a roller coaster," she says. "Sometimes I faced difficulties, but because of my teammates, director and the people who supported me, I was able to get over all of them and become stronger."
Two years later, Yuka is hanging up her boots. And though she won't be able to take them with her, she will take the memories she made while wearing them.
A fun farewell gallery for the Colts Cheerleaders who are hanging up their boots!
"More than just hard times, these past two years gave me a million irreplaceable memories. I appreciate all the things that happened and I am proud of myself for choosing to follow my dream across the sea."
Amongst her most cherished memories are game days – all of them.
"I can't find the right words to describe my emotion for it, but that was what I had been dreaming of and worked hard for since I was in Japan. They're definitely the favorite and most unforgettable moments in my life."
After 10 years as a professional cheerleader, eight of them in Japan, Yuka is enjoying a slower pace of life. She knows in the months and years to come there will be many things she'll miss about her time in Indianapolis.
"My amazing organization, teammates, fans and all the warm people in Indiana," she says.
Right now, she's planning her next adventure. And while she may not know exactly what it looks like or where it will take her, she knows the time she spent in Indy will serve her well.
The Colts will always be part of Yuka's story and no matter where she goes next, her love of the Horseshoe will follow.
Inspired by her journey, two other Japanese women, Natsuki and Mutsumi, are chasing their NFL dreams to Indianapolis to audition this season – and she hopes many more will follow.
"I want to keep handing down my experience as a Colts cheerleader to the next generation of cheerleaders," she says.
From Japan to the U.S. in search of a team, Yuka found what she was looking for.
Now, she hopes to help other women chase their dream.