INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders are back to dancing on the sidelines after a season of being in the stands on risers dancing in masks.
The cheerleaders have seen many changes throughout the pandemic and are now back to performing on the field without their facial accessories.
“I don’t have to wear a mask, and I can see people and see their expressions actually this year and see their smiles,” said second-year veteran Kyleigh.
But that wasn’t the case last year. Kyleigh found out she made the team last year over Zoom.
“It was very pandemic-oriented, and I kind of loved it.”
They performed in masks and didn’t meet with people face to face. Three-year veteran Cassidy wasn’t used to that based on her experience on the team the year before.
“It was very different. I think it was something that was very eye-opening for a lot of women on our team,” said Cassidy.
“You have a lot of barriers and obstacles and things you have to overcome with that. But thankfully we do have the internet and we are able to still connect with each other.”
Last season, they had to rely on a lot of Zoom, but this season they are able to do a lot more in-person performances and appearances.
“It’s been amazing. It’s just so good, a lot of us are very much people people and we just feed off of energy of others. So it’s really nice to be back in person with people,” Cassidy said.
It’s Kyleigh’s first year dancing with the stadium at full capacity.
“I think the contrast is huge where I’m finally on the field, I can finally see people’s smiles, I can finally interact with people and, you know, get into a picture and not stand six feet apart,” Kyleigh said.
For rookie Paige, this is all she’s known as a cheerleader but she’s no stranger to the impacts of COVID.
“Actually, last year during the pandemic, I was a nurse in the emergency room, so my experience last year was a little different,” Paige said.
While she’s still on the frontlines, now she’s getting to experience the sidelines.
“Yea, so last year was a little difficult. The pandemic was hard on everybody for different reasons, and one of the big things I wanted to do this year was find something that sparked a little bit more joy and found ways to inspire others,” Paige said.
Paige says she’s found joy on the team. She and the others say they are happy to be able to not just perform for the fans but interact with them face to face.
“I would just say that we are here for the Colts community. We are here for one another. We are here to make your game day special,” said Paige.
The women have also been able to connect with fans on social media. Specifically, TikTok where they’ve had several videos go viral.