Photos by Matt Bowen
(Editor’s note: In compliance with the Indianapolis Colts policy, Cristina is not identified here by her full last name.)
Zionsville can certainly claim its fair share of Indianapolis Colts players, coaches and executives. It can also claim as one of its own a Colts cheerleader, Cristina C., now in her second year with the NFL team. Cristina’s extensive background and passion for dance seems to make her a natural to be a Colts cheerleader. Cristina describes it as her “full-time hobby”.
Cristina is the daughter of Raphael and Mildred C. She moved to Zionsville when she was seven years old from Puerto Rico, a move required due to her father’s job relocation. Although her parents live in Zionsville, most of her extended family remains in Puerto Rico. Not surprising, Cristina is fluent in Spanish and hopes to utilize her language skills with the Colts, and also looks for bilingual opportunities in Zionsville. The Colts have a military tour in South America planned for later in the year in which Cristina hopes to participate.
Although Cristina spent most of her life in Zionsville, she graduated from Cathedral High School. While at Cathedral, she was a cheerleader, participated in three dance teams and started the Latin-American Dance Team. She also participated in track as a sprinter. After graduating from Cathedral, Cristina went to Purdue University where she was a member of university’s ballroom dance team and Delta Zeta sorority. Since graduating from Purdue, she has been employed as the director of recruitment and development for a national financial services company.
A common adage with respect to the NFL is that, “There is no longer an off-season.” While that clearly applies to players and executives, it is also true of the 26 women chosen to be Colts cheerleaders. Their year begins soon after the Colt’s season ends in January. In February, prospective candidates hoping to make the next year’s squad begins preparing for the auditions held in March. All members of the Colts cheerleaders are required to go through the tryout process every year, irrespective of whether you were a cheerleader in the prior year. The final audition showcase is in April and that year’s squad is chosen shortly thereafter. Practice for the new squad beginnings in May with the intensity of practice picking up steam in June and July. In addition to practice, there are weekly conditioning workouts required, and 25-30 personal appearances throughout the year.
The typical game day routine for a Colt’s cheerleader begins around 6:30 a.m. It starts with an extended on-field rehearsal at Lucas Oil Stadium followed by a light meal and a round of hair and makeup. Next up, are various appearances around the stadium, including some in the tailgating areas outside. With a 1:00 p.m. kickoff, Cristinia’s long day as a Colts cheerleader, which included around 3-4 hours of dancing, is finally over around 4:30 p.m.
Not unlike the players of the NFL, a cheerleading career of five to six years is considered a long career. When asked what she wanted to do when her career as a Colt’s cheerleader is over, Cristinia said she would like to be able to settle down in Zionsville and start a family with her new husband, Matt. Congratulations to Cristina and Matt who were married on August 3rd. Look for Zionsville’s Cristina C. on the Colt’s sidelines this season.