We Salute You, Michelle: Rams Cheerleader AND Air Force Captain
She’s probably the coolest NFL Cheerleader I’ve interviewed for this series. She’s probably the most beautiful, inside and out, probably the most daring and adventurous, and probably the one that can kick your ass without breaking a sweat, thanks to her training and nifty survival skills. She also happens to look just as good in a skin-baring cheerleader uniform as she does in the full-coverage uniform she wears as a captain in the United States Air Force, where she serves as Active Duty. She’s Michelle, originally from good ole Houston, Texas, and now a resident of St. Louis, and a member of the St. Louis Rams Cheerleaders.
When I met Michelle I was immediately in awe. Not only of her presence and downright friendliness but her positive attitude to the news she recently received of being deployed. Simply stating, “I knew my time would come; I’m ready for it,” with the brightest of smiles on her face.
I mean the 5’1” former ballet dancer and tennis star, who also jams out regularly to ‘NSync and Backstreet Boys, has her Master’s in Healthcare Administration, along with her private pilot’s license and serves as the Vice-President for this year’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) on Scott AFB. Though she doesn’t fly for the Air Force, she does fly smaller, single engine planes with hopes of one day getting her twin engine rating. She’s an overachiever by definition, but not the annoying one-upper kind. She’s the go-getter you want to be friends with, or even just stand in the same group of people with, she’s that cool.
Oh, she also checked off running a marathon from her bucket list, completing the San Antonio 26.2 in 4 hours and 4 minutes.
And all of the above makes sense as she tells me her favorite motivational quote by Tom Landry: “A winner never stops trying.” She’s already a winner by pretty much every definition and standard imaginable, but she’s the kind of girl who keeps striving to be better, to do better.
She admits that being an officer in the Air Force and an NFL cheerleader often times shocks people. She’s used to laughing it off, or sometimes having to show some form of proof for people to believe her. “People don’t expect an officer in the Air Force to be an NFL cheerleader and vice versa, but I can tell you that the two complement each other more than you think. Just some of the qualities and characteristics they share: having to maintain an excellent level of fitness, being a good leader/role model to others, community involvement, and most importantly, commitment to the team and putting in the extra time and work needed to get the job done. I enjoy breaking the stereotype that you can’t be feminine and be in the military,” she says enthusiastically.
Being a Rams cheerleader isn’t Michelle’s first rodeo at high-kicking it for professional teams. “I got my start in cheerleading for the Boise Burn, an arena football team in Boise, Idaho when I was stationed at Mountain Home AFB. The Air Force then moved me to San Antonio, where I cheered for the San Antonio Spurs, from 2011-2012 while stationed at Randolph AFB,” she says. Michelle admits she tried out for the Spurs a year earlier but got cut, but that didn’t stop her. Having cheered for the Spurs for only a year, the Air Force led her to St. Louis. Eager to tryout with the Rams, her schedule just didn’t seem to mesh with tryout schedules, which are usually held in April.
“In 2012, tryouts took place in late April, so I expected them to be in late April again, for 2013. My wedding was planned for April 26, so I was disappointed I would miss tryouts another year. Amidst all the wedding planning, I kept checking the website until one day it was announced that auditions would end on April 16th, one week before my wedding. I was thrilled I had the opportunity to tryout – so I did! I ended up making the team AND got married the week after. Talk about a busy and eventful month! My husband and I had lots to celebrate – I’ve never been more thrilled in my life!” Michelle says.
Just in her rookie year, Michelle has already experienced so much as a Rams cheerleader, but her best experience was a military trip to Colorado Springs, CO for Armed Forces Day. “We had the opportunity to visit my Alma Mater, the Air Force Academy. I had not been back since graduating and got pretty emotional when I stepped off the plane. It’s been quite a journey so far, and being there as a Rams cheerleader was so surreal. I was proud to give Coach Keely and my teammates a tour of the Academy and describe what life was like as a student. We also got a tour of Ft. Carson’s helicopter operations, which was eye opening. Even being in the military, there are just some career fields we don’t know about because it’s not in our everyday line of work – it was truly a great experience for me,” she recalls.