Battle for the Boots: Who will make the Colts cheer squad this year?
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Each year, dozens of women pursue their dreams of representing the Colts organization as a sweetheart of the horseshoe.
They spend years preparing for the opportunity of a lifetime to be one of 26 selected to be a Colts cheerleader during an eight-day audition process.
While personality and performance ability are factors that are heavily emphasized when selecting the squad, these women also showcase impressive careers.
Larra Overton follows the hopefuls throughout the audition process, going behind the scenes of these intense auditions.
Battle for the Boots airs Saturday, April 29 at 4 p.m. on FOX59. Read more about the emcee and four cheer hopefuls hoping to make the squad. Will they make it? Tune in Saturday!
Emcee IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe
IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe is no stranger to performing under pressure – both on the track and on the stage. He served as emcee for the Colts Cheer Showcase after being the runner-up last year on “Dancing with the Stars.”
“My experience on Dancing with the Stars makes me understand and appreciate how terrifying it is to be on stage in front of a live audience,” the 2016 Indy 500 pole sitter said. “Now, the girls probably have a lot more experience than I do, so they'll probably deal with it better, but I've definitely got a better understanding and better appreciation for what's going to be going on. And as a co-emcee, I'm happy I don't have to judge and be part of that because that's always tough.”
A native of Toronto, Hinchcliffe calls Indianapolis his “adopted hometown” and said when he started following the Colts in 2009, he quickly gained an appreciation for how passionate the fans are, and how committed the franchise is to the community.
“It was a good time to be joining the fanfare and just seeing how much this organization means to this community and how this town really does get behind them, it's awesome,” Hinch said. “I love being a part of stuff like that. We feel the same thing in IndyCar, the town does the same for us and being able to share that with another sport and another organization is awesome.”
Rachel is a plastic and maxillofacial surgery nurse at Riley Hospital, working in the operating room where she assists on a wide range of procedures to help improve the quality of life for central Indiana children.
"We do things as simple as fixing a cleft lip or cleft palate so giving a chance to smile or to speak appropriately for the first time in their lives,” Rachel said. “We do things like taking out tumors or congenital abnormalities from head to toe and helping them with that overall appearance and confidence outwardly.”
Rachel grew up on Indianapolis’ south side and attended Roncalli High School. While pursuing her nursing degree at Ball State, Rachel was heavily involved with the Dance Marathon fundraiser for Riley, even serving as president her senior year. A lifelong dancer, Rachel is auditioning for Colts Cheerleading for the first time, in hopes of combining her passions for dance, the community and helping children.
“I think Colts Cheerleading is the quintessence of all the things that I love combined. Here in the operating room, I work behind the scenes and I love being behind the scenes and I love being here for those children but it would be so fulfilling to be a representation of Indianapolis and for those children and a role model and a mentor.”
The love for math and physics led Rose to pursue an engineering degree at Notre Dame. While juggling a demanding academic workload, Rose also danced with the Pom Squad, which fueled her deep-seated love of performing while dancing during Fighting Irish pep rallies and basketball games. A New York native, Rose also grew to love Indiana and after graduation she pursued her career in civil engineering with downtown Indianapolis-based CHA Consulting, Inc. Now, she’s looking to combine her love of her community and passion for dance as a Colts cheerleader.
“I think that it's important to be proud of the things that you're interested in as well as maybe the career you're choosing,” Rose said. “And I've always said that if you want something bad enough, then you'll find a way to make it work. And dance has always been a passion of mine, but I love engineering and when I went to school, I found a way to be on the dance team and do engineering. It was hard, but it was absolutely worth it.”
Cassidy is returning to audition for Colts Cheerleading after making to last year’s final. The Purdue University graduate was a member of the Golduster Dance Team and an intern at the Indianapolis Zoo while pursuing her Animal Sciences degree. The Indianapolis native who attended Crispus Attucks High School now works as an animal lab technician at Eli Lilly.
"When I was in high school, I had an internship in a research lab and I thought to myself, I don't want to do this,” Cassidy said. “I want to be free somewhere with animals, but when I got to Purdue, I learned about more opportunities than being a veterinarian with an animal science degree. Being in research, you're not only helping the animals, you're helping people too, because that's how we get our medicine. Especially being around cancer research, that's a big part for me and big thing to my family. That drives me every day and I can't wait to keep growing."
Anne encourages her elementary students to challenge themselves and pursue opportunities outside their comfort zones, and this Zionsville teacher practices what she preaches.
"Being able to challenge yourself is a great thing to learn and to grow as an individual you need to learn new things about yourself in every situation, you meet new people and you're trying new things, and that's the only way to get better." Anne said. “I became a cross country coach, which is weird for me because I've never been a runner. I competed in an NPC bikini competition which was a lot of dedication, a lot of prep work. I joined a salsa group to expand my dance repertoire and just learn something new just something fun that I always wanted to do and didn't think that I could.”
Anne made it to the finals of last year’s auditions and finds inspiration in her siblings to continue to chase her dream of making the squad.
"The most recent thing that's really impacted me is that my brother was diagnosed with cancer in March of last year and even before that my sister is a childhood cancer survivor,” Anne explained. “So right now, that is my ‘why’ in why I want to be part of the Colts cheerleader community and being able to teach others about health and wellness and motivate them and be an inspiration."
Who will make the cut? Find out Saturday, April 29 at 4 p.m. on FOX59’s special “Battle for the Boots.”