They were lined up at the door of the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on Sunday morning.
Different women from different backgrounds and different professions – all with one thing in common – they all want to be Colts Cheerleaders.
“It’s that ambassador. It’s the girl you want your son to date. It’s the woman that you want working for your company,” said cheerleader manager Kelly Tilley on what makes a Colts cheerleader. “It’s integrity and respect and dedication and loyalty.”
Once inside, they registered, had their picture taken, and learned choreography. They performed in front of a panel of judges tasked with selecting the girls who will move on to final auditions on Sunday.
It was the first day of a weeklong process – that for many of them began months before.
“I tell people, ‘If you want to audition in 2018, you should start preparing right now – that that’s going to give you your best shot – if you plan out a year in advance,’” Tilley said.
Throughout the week, the girls will do interviews, take a fitness test and football exam, learn choreography, and rehearse for final auditions – where they’ll showcase their talent during group and individual performances.
“Obviously, they need to perform, they need to dance, they need to be fit, but I think the best thing about this interview process is it’s points based. It’s not subjective. It’s not just looks,” said Sean Bartram, judge and trainer of the Colts Cheerleaders. “They have to accumulate as many points as possible for the next week. So, I feel like we really do capture not just how the girls look, but who they are. And I think that really is the most important thing.”
Tilley said she’ll spend as much time as possible with the girls this week, getting to know them and preparing them for what’s ahead.
“It is only a week. So, just seeing how prepared everybody is and watching their interactions with the other members of the team, I really am paying attention to everything. And trying to get a really good read on who’s going to be best for our team.”
Asked what defined a cheerleader, Colts safety and guest judge Matthias Farley said his interactions with the Colts Cheerleaders are limited, but overwhelmingly positive.
“I think it’s a bunch of people with really big hearts that understand the platform they have to inspire change and brighten people’s days and I think that kind of goes hand in hand with everything about the organization.”
As a judge, Farley said he wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but he’d know when he saw it.
“I do have some experience watching dance because my little brother dances with the New York City Ballet Company. You can tell who has it and who doesn’t. When you watch him, you can tell that he has it – whatever it is. So, I think that will manifest itself in whoever has it. And those will be the cheerleaders in 2017.”
Dozens of girls walked through the doors.
Of them, 49 were chosen to perform at the Colts Cheerleaders Audition Showcase on March 26th.
And there, 26 will be named Colts Cheerleaders for the 2017 season.
Even then, it’s just the beginning.
“That’s their starting point,” says Bartram. “We expect them to maintain that, but hopefully improve upon it through the course of the season.”
Whether they left as 2017 finalists or 2018 hopefuls, it was a life-changing journey for all.
Because once you find your sparkle, no one can take it away.
To be the first to see who makes the team, get your tickets to the Colts Cheerleaders Audition Showcase on Sunday, March 26th: https://www.indianapolissymphony.org/event-detail/colts-cheer-showcase.