But Kristen, a second year veteran with the Falcons, actually grew up performing an entirely different talent: opera singing.
Like many other girls, Kristen took dance classes, such as ballet, jazz and hip-hop, as a six-year old. But her mom, a classically trained soprano, also heard the strong potential in her daughter’s voice. Kristen then started taking voice lessons and participated in a children’s choir, and eventually attended an arts-focused magnet school.
Her singing has led her to perform at multiple events throughout the country, including UGA athletic events along with Carnegie Hall and Niagara Falls.
Although growing up she enjoyed singing, she kept her passion for dance and decided to try out for her high school cheer team – despite having no previous experience with cheerleading.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” she said. “I knew I could dance but I couldn’t tumble. I made the freshman team, worked hard in the gym, acquired the skills I needed and made varsity the very next year.”
Once she was involved with cheering and singing, she found it difficult at times to do both because as a singer she was taught not to yell, but as a cheerleader it was her job to get the crowd excited by doing just that.
“It was really hard finding a ‘happy medium’ between the two,” said Kristen. “My mother and choir director were both continuously telling me to stop cheering because it was going to ruin my voice, but I have always believed that there’s always a way to do all the things you love, so I continued to sing and cheer throughout my high school career."
Kristen, who is also a full-time student at UGA majoring in Sport Management, also teaches at Greater Atlanta Christian School’s School of Ballet. She hopes to follow in her mother’s footsteps and open a studio as well as coaching a dance team one day.
“It’s such a joy to have the opportunity to educate such wonderful young girls and show them the power of dance and the way to use their talents to make a positive impact in today’s society,” she said.
Kristen also admits that her secret dream is to some day try out for a talent competition show, and also hopes to one day show off her singing to the same crowd at the Georgia Dome who’s accustomed to her dancing.
“My next goal is to sing the National Anthem at an Atlanta Falcons game,” she said. “That would be amazing!”