Meet the newest member of the New Orleans Saints cheerleading squad: 40-year-old mother of two Kriste Lewis.
A longtime dance instructor who lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Lewis said it was a lifelong dream of hers to try out for the cheer squad, which consists mostly of women from 18 to 30. After turning 40, Lewis tried out for the Saints cheerleading team in April.
“There were a lot of young, beautiful girls,” Lewis said on “Good Morning America” Tuesday. “It was a fear. I will not lie.”
The mother of two boys, ages 14 and 11, participated in three rounds of tryouts and eventually learned that she would be one of the 36 women on the 2014-2015 Saintsations team.
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“The day I got the news I was really beside myself,” Lewis said. “It was really exciting.”
The team was announced on April 30 on the team’s website. Lewis will be part of the appearance performing team which, according to the site, is responsible for “community outreach, game day appearances, stadium performances and media relations. Applicants should be able to possess public speaking skills and dance technique. Benefits of membership on this team include extensive community relations and marketing experience, media training and a shorter rehearsal schedule.”
Applicants must be over 18 years old, perform at all home games and be able to perform kicks, leaps, turns and routines, the site notes. There are no height or weight requirements, but the audition packet requires members be “physically fit” because “being a Saintsation requires a high level of athleticism.” Women trying out are require to disclose their height, weight and measurements in order to apply.
Though Lewis said it was her lifelong dream, the biggest inspiration that motivated her to try out was a health condition she has battled daily for more than a decade.
“Fourteen years ago I was diagnosed with polysistic kidney disease. Eventually my kidneys will shut down [and] I will be in need of dialysis and in need of a transplant,” she said.
“That had a lot to do with me auditioning as well. I didn’t want to waste a day.”
Lewis is not wasting a day preparing for the 2014-2015 season, either. She practices daily, which her sons and husband fully support.
“I’m especially proud that she made it, and she’s the best mom a child could have,” 11-year-old Rob said.
“It’s just amazing to watch her dance,” said her husband, Tim.
Lewis will debut with the New Orleans Saintsations cheerleaders at the Saint’s home opener at the Superdome in September.
"I cannot wait for us to run out for the first time and we run out on that field," Lewis said.
In the meantime, she hopes she will be an inspiration to mothers or those who are facing a health condition to fulfill their dreams.
“I think as moms we are hard-wired to give and we give and we give and we give,” she said. “I think it’s important to think back what made you excited as a child.”