DENVER, Colorado - Hayley Beard strutted onto center stage April 15 and looked like she was born to be there - which, of course, she was.
Beard was one of more than 300 women to take a shot at being a Denver Broncos cheerleader and was one of the few to make it through to the finals.
She's an 18-year-old Eagle Valley High School senior - one of only two high school students who tried out - and a member of the Devils dance team. She was one of the last cuts, but she had a great time trying.
No. 91 in your program, No. 1 in your heart.
"I was surprised that I got that far," Beard said. "I did it for the experience, and I wanted to have fun."
She got both.
"There was part of me that was a little let down, but I was honored to have made it through to the finals," she said.
Beard is headed to Austin Peay University in Tennessee and was down there to try out for the school's dance team. She made it.
She flew back from Tennessee to Denver, and the Broncos tryouts were the next day.
Well, why not? she decided. And so she did.
"The worst that could have happened was that I wouldn't make the first cut," she said.
More than 300 women showed up that first day. Most went home and weren't invited back, but Beard was.
They were put through a weeklong series of interviews, the Broncos staff checked their backgrounds, including their Facebook pages, looking for anything negative or compromising.
They took a football test. You'll be glad to know that Beard, the beloved offspring of Eagle Valley assistant football coach Ron Beard, passed with flying colors.
That got her through to the finals.
The 500-seat theater was packed with rowdy fans waving signs and blowing noisemakers, supporting their favorite dancers.
They performed in groups of three and then a solo and then all together for a kick routine like the Rockettes.
"Dancing next to them, I learned how good these people are and what a classy organization the Broncos are," Beard said. "They were helpful at every turn. I've always been a Broncos fan, but now I admire them on a much higher level."
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.