The Atlanta Falcons are back in the Georgia Dome Friday night to kick off the 2014 preseason against the Miami Dolphins.
When everything in the background fades away — the crowd, the cameras, the music and the teammates — the only thing left is you, your thoughts, and whether or not you're able to shut them off or allow them to run wild in your head. This is just a small look into what each first-year woman on the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleading squad was going through during their run-through at the Georgia Dome, hours before Friday's first preseason home game against the Miami Dolphins.
Fear of dropping pom-poms, tripping over boots, and completely blanking and not being able to remember the routine were just some of the thoughts running through the minds of the newest members of the squad. Added to that is the pressure of their first home game performance in front of the friendly crowd in the Dome.
Even with all these fears running amuck, however, the young women looked calm and collected on the outside. They couldn't wait to get in front of the crowd and channel their adrenaline and the crowd's energy into their performance to make it worthwhile for the fans that came to watch.
Sixth-year veteran Denita C. still gets emotional thinking about her first performance and how far she has come. Besides everything being overwhelming leading up to the performance, the excitement, energy, and the plain fact that she was on the field as a rookie is what she remembers the most; it's also what she finds the hardest to explain to rookies, even after her six years on the team.
"You don't know what it's going to feel like to be out there. You literally get chills," Denita said. "That first dance, of course you're nervous, but I just wanted to make my team and my captain proud."
When all is said and done, the nerves are worth it to these women.
They help drive each of them and their veteran teammates to be better than they were when they first stepped on the field. They also keep each young lady grounded, reminding them how lucky they are to have this opportunity to do what they love to do, all while being surrounded by incredible women.
"… You're not just a cheerleader," Colleen F. said. "You're also a mom. A lot of the girls have fulltime jobs on the team and they go to cheerleading practice and they also do philanthropic work on the side outside of the Falcons."
As the pregame festivities began, the squad began their routine. With each boot dancing in sync and each pom-pom shaking to the tempo, they welcomed back their favorite home team and marked the start of the preseason in Atlanta.