By Mary Beard
Special to Stlouisrams.com
From an early age, Michelle had two great passions that she was determined to pursue. One she started very early in life and one took her a few more years to accomplish. At age four Michelle started dancing with the Houston Ballet Academy and continued through high school years. By the time she was 16 she flew a plane by herself.
After taking up a glider plane when she was 12, Michelle’s dad, who’d never had the opportunity to complete his own pilot’s license, saw his daughter’s enthusiasm and encouraged her to take flying lessons. She soloed at 16, and got her pilot’s license at 17—before she even received her permit to drive.
When it came time to look at colleges, Michelle set her sights on the Air Force Academy knowing that she wanted to continue her flying. After a lengthy and competitive application process, she got her acceptance letter. Not wanting to leave her other passion behind, she put her dance skills to work and became an Air Force Academy cheerleader.
While at school Michelle decided to pursue finance, which led her to San Antonio after she graduated. But she missed dancing, so she cheered for the local arena football team, and later became a Silver Dancer for the San Antonio Spurs basketball team. After a job switch from finance to the medical service core relocated her to St. Louis, her new mission was to become a St. Louis Rams Cheerleader. She tried out in the spring and made the squad.
Now stationed at Scott Air Force Base, Michelle splits her time between the Rams and her work with the Air Force.
“Everyone is so supportive,” says Michelle. “At work they are proud to work with a cheerleader and they come out to a lot of events, including the Back to Football 5K. And the girls are supportive too! On a fitness level I’ve proved that I can do both and I’m able to share what I’ve learned with the Air Force in terms of healthy eating and workouts with the rest of the girls.”
In her spare time, Michelle is also the vice chairman of the Combined Federal Campaign—the largest federal campaign at Scott Air Force Base. The organization allows military members to donate money out of their paycheck to go directly towards charities in need. Michelle acts as a representative throughout the campaign, which runs through the fall.
She counts running onto the field before the game as her favorite memory with the cheerleaders so far, and is looking forward to the Military Appreciation Game.
“My husband is deployed and I could really go at any time,” she says. “It’s so amazing knowing everything during that game is meant to support myself and my friends--I’m sure I’ll be teary-eyed!”