A dream of dancing on the sidelines is shared among the women vying for 26 coveted spots. And even for veterans hoping to return to the squad, the process of earning those boots is still a battle.
“It gets more and more difficult at auditions looking around seeing all these girls who are beautiful not only outside but they are amazing women who all want each other to succeed,” Cortney L. said, auditioning for her fifth season on the squad. “And then they have kicks up to their nose and left splits right splits center splits just everything they`re the total package and every year that level goes up.”
The first day of the more than week-long evaluation process of selecting the squad begins with an open audition in which the women learn a brand-new routine that morning, then turnaround a short time later and are judged in groups of three in front of a judging panel that includes former NFL cheerleaders, Colts staff and even the players themselves.
“We all know it`s not just about ourselves that`s out there on Sundays,” Colts cornerback Kenny Moore said. “We know a lot goes into their job as well as ours, we just try to encourage them as much as they encourage us. We`re honored to be here and give back to them.”
“It definitely made my appreciation level a lot higher,” Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox said. “I just didn`t know this much went into it, they had to learn a routine in an hour, that`s like saying go out and learn this playbook in an hour that`s going to be hard to do."
Just 45 of those women are selected to go on to finals in which you are evaluated on a number of different categories each day, building up to a showcase at the end of the week. And the stakes are even greater this season. This squad will represent a historic year as the Colts celebrate their 35th season in Indianapolis and will welcome alumni cheerleaders from across the decades back to the field.
“My rookie year we did the 30-year reunion and that was the coolest thing ever getting to meet the original `84 squad’s cheerleaders,” Mariah H. said, who is the longest tenured cheerleader on the squad, auditioning for her sixth season. “It`s just bizarre to know that I have been on the team that long to have another cycle again. I figured I`d be on the team for two years and I will be alumni by the time we do it again but here I am!”