TERRE HAUTE —
Three women. One dream.
Wabash Valley residents Chelsea Ralston, Mariah Whitaker and Andrea Swinford have never met each other, but they have one thing in common: All three are aspiring Colts cheerleaders.
Online auditions are underway and will be a factor whether or not these three women make the 2014 Colts Cheerleading Squad.
As the March 23 preliminary round of auditions draws near, the three women are hoping to gather as many online votes as they can.
Andrea Swinford, of the “small, supportive community” of Hillsdale in Vermillion County, said she has been competing with another candidate for the top spot in the online voting. As of Thursday night, she was in second place with more than 7,300 votes. The aspiring cheerleader with the highest votes automatically qualifies to the next round, she said.
“It’s a fight,” she jokingly said.
But she appreciated all the support.
“It’s an awesome feeling. I can’t thank people enough,” Swinford said.
“I didn’t realize I had so many people … that really want this for me,” she said.
One of her biggest cheerleaders is her mom, who has been encouraging everyone she knows to vote for her daughter.
“People are saying they want to see a small town girl go big,” Swinford, who has been cheering since 4th grade, said.
But joking aside, Swinford, who grew up in Dana, said it is an “honor” to represent her small town.
“We don’t even have a grocery store … for such a small community and so many votes, that says a lot,” she said. “I just think there’s no better way to honor the community than to support the local team. I like to entertain people and most of all, have fun.”
Her cheerleading career started in elementary school and continued all through high school. She also took gymnastics as a child and remained active in it until recently.
“I can’t get it out of my blood,” she said of cheerleading and gymnastics.
“I might as well do it now before I get too old,” the 30-year-old said.
Swinford, a mother of three children, including a set of twins (boy and girl), wants to finally pursue her dream of becoming a Colts cheerleader. She wants to set a good example for her kids.
“If you want something, go after it,” she said of the lesson she wants to share with her kids.
But she also wants to share something with other mothers.
“This shows those who have families that you could still go after your dreams,” Swinford said.
Another aspiring Colts cheerleader, Chelsea Ralston, wants to be a role model.
“I have a passion for fitness and dance. I think this will be a great way to tie the two together and be a positive role model for younger girls,” the 21-year old said.
She likes the community service activities of Colts cheerleaders.
“I think they are the epitome of grace and class,” said Ralston, who is finishing her last semester as a nursing student at Indiana State University.
Supported by her mom, Ralston started gymnastics and dance when she was 3-years-old and cheering in sixth grade. She continued cheering at school and on competitive teams through high school.
While in college, she coached cheerleading before getting involved in fitness. She currently co-owns Terre Haute workout facility, Evolution Fitness.
Born and raised in Terre Haute, she enjoys cheerleading.
“It’s an adrenaline rush. I think it’s fun to get dressed up, go out and have a good time,” Ralston said. “Everybody’s positive. Everybody’s happy.”
Her commitment and dedication are among the qualities she will bring to the Colts cheerleading squad, she said. She has been working with a local cheerleading coach since August in preparation for the tryouts.
And while Ralston aims to get the most online votes she can, she still intends to show her best skills on audition day.
Mariah Whitaker, one of the youngest girls trying out for the squad, also intends to do her best during auditions.
The 18-year-old “regular, typical teenager,” plans to focus on preparing for the tryouts during the first few weeks of March so she worked hard to complete all the credits to graduate high school early. Her last day of school at Terre Haute North Vigo High School was Friday, she said.
“I’ve wanted to be a Colts cheerleader since I was little,” Whitaker, a Terre Haute resident, said. Inspired by seeing the cheerleaders at Colts summer camp, she previously wanted to sign up to be a junior cheerleader but was unable to. “I’m grateful to have the opportunity now to at least try.”
She has three reasons for wanting to become a Colts cheerleader.
“I love to dance. It’s my passion,” she said of her first reason.
The second, she said, is the opportunity to do community service in Indianapolis as a Colts cheerleader. She plans to attend The Art Institute in Indianapolis this summer and major in fashion design. Performing community service will be a great way to get to know the city, she said.
“Third, I love to perform and entertain, so performing for all those fans, I think that will just be a great experience,” Whitaker said. “The adrenaline rush will just be amazing.”
Although she has never been a cheerleader, Whitaker started dance in third grade and performed throughout high school.
“I feel more confident when I dance. It’s another way to show off your personality. ...I think it’s really fun,” she said. And when it comes to pursuing her dream, age is only a number.
“I don’t really think age is a factor. It doesn’t intimidate me,” Whitaker said, and she is used to working with older people. “But I do have a lot to prove.”
She expects to have to work harder “because I am so young.” She hopes to learn to be a better dancer.
Her inspiration is her mom, Nicole Whitaker, who was proud of her eldest daughter.
“It takes a lot of courage to do something like this but this will help her grow,” Nicole Whitaker said. “The possibilities are endless.”
“She always pushes me to try my hardest,” Mariah Whitaker said of her mom. “She always tells me I have as good a chance as anybody else. She’s always been my support system.”
Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or email@example.com.
From high schooler to 30-year-old mother, each has high ambition
TERRE HAUTE —
Three women. One dream.
A trade, a home up for sale
The first house constructed in “The Trades” subdivision now has a “for sale” sign in the front yard.
Health care provider details 150 job cuts
The reduction of 150 employees in Union Health System by the end of this year will come from support staff, employees who do not have direct patient-care duties, hospital administrators said Wednesday.
MARK BENNETT: Giving new voice to Ehrmann’s words
Max Ehrmann’s bronze face may break into a grin soon.
SCHOOL BOARD: Incumbents each seek next term
As expected, four Vigo County School Board incumbents filed for re-election Wednesday.
Making his case to the people
Indiana state treasurer hopeful Mike Boland says that if elected, he intends to be a “small-city, small-town state treasurer.”
Photo Essay: Flowers & Nature
Ella Boyles, 3, watches as her grandmother Verdeana Boyles starts a flower arrangement during the JMG! Jammin! Muddin! & Growin! Jr. Master Gardener Program on Tuesday at the west branch of the Vigo County Public Library in West Terre Haute.
Study finds school scores rising — poverty too
While Vigo County’s educational scores outperform the state average, schools are seeing the impact of an increase in the number of children living in poverty, according to the national Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2014 “Kids Count.”
No more teacher-led prayer in Vigo schools
As the result of a complaint from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Vigo County School Corp. teachers and other staff will no longer be able to lead prayers during school-sponsored events.
Vigo school board candidate filing period begins today
Four of seven Vigo County School Board seats are up for election this year.
Six hurt in pickup crash on I-70
An accident on Interstate 70 that injured six people Tuesday afternoon is being attributed to mechanical failure.
Cops know where hoax call came from — next is who made it
Police have identified the location from which a bomb threat was made and mentioning The Meadows shopping center.
Parties fill openings on fall ballots
The face of the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election has changed slightly after a July 15 deadline for major parties to nominate candidates and independent candidates to file for positions that were left vacant after the May primary election.
Motorcyclist critical from head trauma after crashing bike
A Vigo County man remained hospitalized Tuesday in critical condition following a motorcycle accident on Monday evening.
Greene County woman dies from motorcycle wreck injuries
A Linton woman has died as the result of a motorcycle crash on Monday in Greene County on Indiana 157 north of Worthington.
Man whose body found in trailer identified; how he died still undetermined
The body discovered inside a trailer in Montgomery County last month has been identified as a man whose last known address was in Clinton.
Vigo schools miss out on preschool programs for low-income students
Vigo County schools were not selected, but schools in Indiana’s three most populous counties were among five chosen for a pilot program that will allow low-income children in those areas to attend preschool as early as next year.
Drowning confirmed as cause of death at Raccoon Lake
A Veedersburg man has died after resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful after his drowning Monday at Raccoon Lake in Parke County.
WTH house fire under investigation
No injuries were reported in a West Terre Haute house fire that is under investigation.
Body found in trailer identified as Vermillion County man
Authorities have identified the person whose body was discovered last month in a trailer that had recently been moved from Vermillion County. Indiana State Police, using DNA testing, identified the body as that of Shane L. Sowers, 41, whose last known address was on North Sixth Street in Clinton
Troubled bridge over water
For years, the iconic, arched foot-bridge at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College had been the backdrop for pictures of newlyweds, prom-goers and Woodsies.
Pool construction bids, principals approved
After more than a year of discussion, debate and planning, work on the new Vigo Schools Aquatic Center at Voorhees Park is expected to begin today.
‘Launch’ pad for creativity
In an effort to foster entrepreneurs to begin and grow their ideas into a start-up business in Vigo County, “Launch Terre Haute” will host a co-work open house Wednesday.
Gelato at 12 Points
Coffee and gelato are now on the menu on Terre Haute’s north side.
Man pulled from Raccoon Lake
Indiana Conservation divers recovered a Veedersburg man reportedly submerged Monday afternoon at Raccoon Lake in Parke County.
Mall evacuated after bomb threat
The Meadows Shopping center was evacuated about 5 p.m. Monday after police received a report of an alleged bomb threat.
UPDATE: Faulty brakes blamed for bus crash
Police in Knoxville, Tenn., confirmed Monday that a Clay County church bus involved in a fatal crash last week had faulty brakes.
Police in Indy nab 2nd suspect in homicide case
A second man has been arrested in connection with a homicide in Greene County. The Indiana State Police confirmed that Jason Lee Caldwell, 35, was arrested Monday morning by Indianapolis police.
Police credit public tips for meth lab bust
Tips from the community helped lead to the arrest of a Terre Haute woman on charges including the manufacture and possession of methamphetamine.
Vigo County Council OKs tax abatements
Two companies received final approval from the Vigo County Council Monday for 10-year real and personal property tax abatements.
Police: Brakes on church bus involved in fatal crash were faulty
Investigators confirmed there was a problem with the brakes on a Clay County church bus involved in a fatal accident last week in Knoxville, Tenn.
- More News Headlines
- A trade, a home up for sale