It was an unsuspecting moment on an otherwise normal game day that turned into a moment Lexie will never forget.
“We end our routine, I was in a pose on the ground and all the sudden I look up and there’s (Coach) Kelly standing right in front of me. I had no idea what was being said because the stadium was so loud. All I could see was her holding the sash and the ears. I couldn’t believe it.”
After three seasons with the Colts Cheerleaders, Lexie was going to the Pro Bowl.
“When you become a cheerleader, you see these girls that go to the Pro Bowl and they are the gold standard. And I still have a hard time seeing myself as that. I looked at Mariah and I looked at Erin and I looked at Jessica as being the gold standard as Colts cheerleaders and being able to follow in their footsteps, I almost felt like I wasn’t worthy.”
But her teammates thought otherwise. And their timing couldn’t have been better.
“I started pageants when I was 8 years old and my dream was always to go to Miss America and this year, I came to the realization that that dream probably wasn’t going to come true. It’s hard to cope with that,” she said. “Going to the Pro Bowl was the Miss America moment that I always dreamed of, but even better because I wasn’t selected by a panel of judges that I had never met, I was selected by my friends that knew me for me and that made it even more special. Everything kind of came full circle.”
Lexie had two weeks to learn nine routines and before she left for Orlando, she performed them in front of her teammates. And in a relatively new tradition, the former Pro Bowl cheerleaders sent her off with a luncheon.
“I got to hear about all of their experiences. Everyone’s experience was a little bit different, but everybody had something amazing to say,” she said. “It really is a sisterhood within a sisterhood. Even the women that couldn’t come to the sendoff sent me gifts to the hotel - people I’ve never met before. It was just mind-blowing to me.”
When she arrived in Orlando, she formed a new sisterhood with the women she had been getting to know over text.
“You’re making these connections and you’re chatting with people and you feel like you’ve known them forever, but at the same time - you’ve never heard their voice, you don’t know how tall they are,” she said. "The first person that I met was Alex from the Falcons and she screamed and ran across the airport and jumped up and down the second she saw me. You would have thought we had known each other for years.”
Through practices and appearances, those bonds grew. And by the end of the week, they truly were a family.
“Here we are, our dreams are coming true. But there’s been a long journey that led us all here and we’re all thankful for that journey,” she said. “It was so special hearing everybody else’s story - who we are, where we came from, and what we’ve been through.”
Along with cheering at the Pro Bowl, Lexie had the additional honor of debuting the new Colts Cheer uniform in public and being an ambassador for all it stands for.
“We know the most visual piece is the uniform. For most people, that may be all they even see. But to actually have the time to stop and talk about the next chapter, I was moved by the positive reception I got - knowing that what we are offering could be the stepping stone not just for us, but for all NFL cheerleaders.”
And she already made a special memory in her new uniform.
“I’ve always had my superhero moments in the uniform, where I felt like I’ve had kids look at me like I was a superhero. But there was a moment that I kind of felt a shift in the new uniform,” she said. “I saw a little girl see me in the stands and she looked at me like she had just seen Cinderella. It’s hard to put into words because it’s more of a feeling. She almost looked starstruck in a way that I have never experienced.”
But her most memorable moment happened at one of their appearances.
“We did a trivia game and there was a boy in the audience with Down syndrome and his mom pointed to him and said, ‘Pick him!’ So of course, I picked him. When it came to the end, he had the last question and he was the winner. The look on his face was priceless. You would have thought he just won the Super Bowl.”
But that was only the beginning of their special connection.
“The best part about it was later, his dad walked up in a Florida Gators hoodie. I said, ‘Are you guys Florida Gators fans?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, we’re die hards.’ And I said, ‘I’m Austin Appleby’s girlfriend.’ And his jaw dropped.”
Not only were they fans of her boyfriend, they had met his family, and they were season ticket holders for his new team, the Alliance of American Football’s Orlando Apollos.
“There was a moment at the Pro Bowl for each of us where it was confirmed why we were there,” she said. “That was the moment that solidified that I was meant to be here, at that moment, with those people. It was so special, almost to the point that it wasn’t a coincidence.”
2019 NFL Pro Bowl - Game Day Cheer - LEXIE
Lexie arrived at the Pro Bowl not knowing what to expect.
She left the Pro Bowl a new person with a renewed purpose and a new outlook on life.
“I’m changed forever. I’m a different person and I’m still trying to pinpoint exactly what that is, but I can just feel in myself that I’m different.”