Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Anything is Possible 

Posted by James at 9:00 AM ET

Baltimore Blast Cheerleader Amanda has profound hearing loss.

"Without hearing aids, I can't hear a thing. Zip. Zero," she says.

She doesn't sign. She learned to read lips. When she dances, she feels the vibration and keeps an eye on her teammates to stay on beat. And she relies heavily on her cellphone, sending thousands of text messages a month.

Amanda has been dancing for nineteen years. She says in a way dancing was therapy for her. When she was struggling with school, peers or speech classes, she would turn to dance to help rid herself of these unpleasant feelings.

She attended a performing arts high school, The South Jersey Academy of Performing Arts. With the addition of outside dance classes, she was dancing literally everyday.

After high school, Amanda enrolled at Towson University as a Dance Performance/Dance Education. But she decided that while she loved dancing she couldn't do it forever. It was a difficult decision for her giving up her major because dance was her life. She says it was so hard letting it go, that she cried.

Amanda, Baltimore Blast

After changing majors twice, she chose Psychology. But when she made the switch, she had to stop dancing. Her Biology and Chemistry classes were taking up too much of her time. She went three semesters without dancing and was miserable. When her course load changed and she had the free time, her friends, recognizing how much Amanda missed dancing, insisted she join the Towson Pom Squad.

She was never a cheerleader until her friends asked her to try out for the Pom Squad. With the huge crowd emphasis it was completely different from anything she had done before, but she quickly fell fell in love with it. That experience led Amanda to try out for the Baltimore Ravens Cheerleaders (As documented by MTV's True Life).

She wasn't discouraged after the failing to make the Ravens. She was determined to keep dancing. Her whole life she's learned to never give up. She resolved to tryout for the Blast Cheerleaders, and says it's one of the best decisions she ever made.

At her first game Amanda admits she had some opening night jitters. She didn't expect that so many fans would ask for autographs and photos. She was concerned about her performance. With all the fans cheering, she could barely hear the music. That was quite a change from dancing in a spotlight with a silent audience. But all her life Amanda hasn't let anything stop her.

Amanda at Ravens Tryouts

And now she embraces it all: dancing on the field, signing autographs, posing for photo with the fans. And then there are all the wonderful new friends Amanda has made on the team.

She's going to dearly miss the Blast Cheerleaders next year. Amanda is scheduled to graduate this May with a BS in Psychology. She'll move back home to Glassboro, NJ with plans to attend graduate school in Philadelphia and earn her Masters in Occupational Therapy.

Amanda, Baltimore Blast

But she has no plans to give up cheering or the spotlight. She's considering trying out for the Sixers Dancers or the KiXX Dance team, but her goal is to become a Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleader. Even though she went to school in Maryland, the Eagles have a place in Amanda's heart. She was born is South Philadelphia and is a life long fan. But she acknowledges that it won't be easy to make an elite squad like the Eagles Cheerleaders.

"It will be a challenge. But as always, I hold my head up high and never give up."

As Amanda has learned, anything is possible.

Watch MTV's True Life: I'm Deaf here.

You can watch a report on Amanda from Baltimore's ABC2News here.

Blast Cheerleaders on MySpace.

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