Brilliantly Overcoming NFL Cheerleader HurdlesYuka Shibano, Kyoto Sangyo University Graduate
There is a woman who graduated from Kyoto Sangyo University that is actively participating as a cheerleader in the NFL, U.S. professional football. She went to the U.S. by herself last year, and, overcoming language barriers and other difficulties, hit a small window of opportunity. She performs breathtaking dances in stadiums, and said, "Cheerleading can bring cheer and smiles to spectators."
This woman is Yuka Shibano. She is from Yonago City, Tottori Prefecture. She encountered cheerleading when she entered Kyoto Sangyo University. "It was so cool that I fell in love with it from the start." After graduation, she was a cheerleader for "Elecom Kobe," an amateur American football team, while she was working as a company employee. While studying with American cheerleading as her model, her aspiration became increasingly stronger. She decided to take the challenge, thinking, "I only live once. I don't want to have any regrets later."
Last April, she auditioned for the Indianapolis Colts. She underwent a fitness test, a written test and an interview. In the interview, she had difficulty with English, but she conveyed her enthusiasm through the painting she had made beforehand. The moment her selection was announced, she could not stop a flood of tears. Only 26 out of more than 100 applicants passed the audition. Reportedly, there are seven or eight Japanese cheerleaders in total throughout the NFL.
With a short stature of 151 centimeters, she performs sharp dances, enlivening games at the stadiums. Her monthly income, however, is only approximately 70,000 yen. Rooming at the house of a Japanese in the United States, she lives on her savings accumulated before going to the United States through working for a company, waitressing in a bar, and instructing cheerleading classes.
American cheerleaders are required to be role models for women. Besides the games, she actively participated in charitable activities, such as visiting schools and hospitals. She said, "In the United States, cheerleaders are recognized as an icon." She has found her activities rewarding.
The contracts are valid for one year, so she will audition again in March. She said, "The year was full of struggles, but it also went by in a flash. This year I'd like to share what I learned in Japan with the team." Although she has not set her future goals yet, she does have a dream. She explained, "I would like to make the most of my experiences working in the sports industry."(translated by Galileo, Inc.)