At the end of the 2018 season, the Colts Cheerleaders unveiled their vision for 2019 and beyond with the next chapter.
On Sunday, they introduced the team that would carry it out.
“It was really rewarding to hear our finalists in our business interview bring up the next chapter without us asking about it. And them noticing and paying attention and being inspired by the message that we want to send and the impact we want to make,” said Kelly Tilley, Director of Colts Cheer.
Here are the 26 women that will be cheering on your Indianapolis Colts during the 2019 Season.
With an emphasis on breaking down stereotypes, building up team, and inspiring future generations - the next chapter of Colts Cheer is all about empowerment.
From athletes and performers to students and professionals - last week, 47 finalists competed for 26 spots on the 2019 team.
“Everyone has their own special story, but I definitely felt called to be here and to help move this forward,” said Hannah, a fourth generation auctioneer and first year Colts Cheerleader. “Just knowing that this is the beginning of a whole new journey is very exciting.”
It was also a new journey for Brittany, a dance studio director and former NBA dancer, who sought out Colts Cheer after hearing about the next chapter.
“I was looking for a change and the next step in my dance career and the NFL was calling my name. I did some research and this team blew me away when I saw the new direction they were going in. I said, ‘I absolutely want to be a part of that.’”
Bullied growing up, dance became Brittany’s refuge. She hopes to use her platform with the Colts to inspire others with her story.
“I actually became homeschooled half way through middle school because the bullying was so bad,” she said. “I found my safe place in dance and keeping that throughout my whole life, I just want to be able to share the experience that I’ve had. I feel like there aren’t enough words for me to tell you vocally, so I express it through dance.”
In Colts Cheer, she found a team - even before she made the team.
“I’ve never met so many nice people who work for one organization,” she said. “Everybody is here to help you get through it and if they see you’re lacking confidence or you’re not picking up a certain step, they will stay late and give you the confidence or whatever it is that you need. It’s no person left behind.”
That’s what brought Cassidy, a lab technician, back to audition for the third time.
“I took a year off, I missed it,” she said. “It hurt to be cut. My head was telling me, ‘You can’t go back.’ But my heart my was like, ‘No, you need to go.’”
She listened to her heart - and she made the team.
“I cried like a baby,” she said.
For Mariah, seeing Cassidy make the team was as exciting as making it herself for the seventh time.
“I was looking around the dressing room at that moment and we made eye contact and she just instantly started bawling and then I started crying. I was like, ‘You did it! You did it, baby!’”
Now starting her fourth season, Alexis said the audition process never gets any easier, but it does get more enjoyable.
“There are so many awesome women that come every single year,” she said. “We create all these friendships throughout the years and just seeing those same people come back and then finally, they’re your teammate and you get to celebrate together. It’s just so exciting.”
Co-hosted by Matthias Farley, the audition showcase was a celebration of talented individuals coming together to make a dynamic team. As a Colts safety, it’s a concept he’s familiar with.
He’s also familiar with the world of dance.
Farley’s younger brother, Silas, dances for the New York City Ballet Company. He demonstrated some of his moves over video and Matthias attempted to follow along.
Asked who the better athlete is, he said it depends.
“I think it’s a contextual question. In this context, he’s definitely more athletic, more graceful, more amazing,” he said. “He’s incredibly talented. He works really, really hard and it’s awesome to watch him grow and see what he’s becoming.”
After a long week which included a fitness test, football exam, business interview, and audition - it was finally time.
“Who’s ready to meet the 2019 squad?” Tilley asked the audience.
As she called out their numbers, the finalists took the stage to perform together as teammates for the first time.
But first, the words they all worked so hard to hear.
“Vets, welcome home. Rookies, welcome to the NFL,” she said.
Now, the real work begins.
“I think that having a really successful audition process with a lot of positivity and work ethic and support really sets the tone for the rest of the season,” Tilley said.
And for the Colts Cheerleaders, the 2019 season starts now.