Auditioning to be a Colts cheerleader is a big time commitment. But for two women who traveled to Indianapolis from Japan, it’s a process that started months ago.
Azusa and Yuka already knew each other from cheering in Japan, where American football is gaining popularity.
“In Japan, the cheerleading community is really small. So, we know each other even though I live in Tokyo and she lives in Osaka,” says Azusa. “It’s far away, like six hours from Tokyo to Osaka, but we know each other.”
And now that they’re both in Indiana, they’re getting to know each other much better. Yuka is quick to point out how much Azusa helps her with her English.
Yuka has been in Indiana for three weeks now, attending all the Colts cheer audition prep classes.
She had never even seen a cheerleader until she was in college, but that was all it took for her.
“When I was a high school student, I didn’t know a cheerleader. After I entered university, I saw a cheerleader. I was so impressed with her.”
She started cheering while attending Kyoto Sangyo University and went on to cheer for Elecom Kobe Finies, an American football team in Japan. After five years, she decided to give the NFL a try, which brought her to Indianapolis. And she felt the Hoosier hospitality immediately.
“Indiana people are very kind,” she says.
Azusa arrived in Indianapolis on Tuesday. She took a month off from her job at Mitsubishi to pursue her dream – cheering for an NFL team.
Like many other cheerleaders, it was her strong dance background that led her to cheering.
“I started cheerleading when I was 26. So, it’s pretty late. But from five years old to 18 years old, I had a classical ballet background. After that, I went to university in Canada, so I didn’t have time for dancing and I quit for ten years.”
She may have left dancing. But dancing never left her.
“When I settled with my job, I felt like I want to dance again. So, I looked up a web page and I found out there is a cheerleading team for American football. So, why don’t I try it? Then I tried out and I made the team in Tokyo, Japan. It’s called IBM Big Blue American football team.”
She didn’t just make the team, she became captain of the team and in 2015 she was named NFA Cheerleader of the Year.
Azusa says so far, her experience with the Colts has been nothing short of amazing.
“I love (Coach) Kelly. She’s so enthusiastic about the team and I love her so much.”
They traveled a great distance and risked a lot to do so. But since they arrived, they’ve had a sisterhood of support surrounding them.
Good luck to Azusa, Yuka, and all the girls who want to wear the boots!
You can show your support for your favorite cheerleaders on the Colts Cheerleaders Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NFLColtsCheer/app/448952861833126/.
And don’t forget to get your tickets to the Colts Cheerleaders Audition Showcase on April 17th: https://www.indianapolissymphony.org/event-detail/colts-cheer-showcase.
If you’re interested in cheering for the Colts, there’s still time! Check out the Colts Cheerleaders webpage for more information, to register, or to pass it on to someone you know: http://www.colts.com/cheerleaders/auditions.html.