One of Carissa Kahl’s earliest memories is watching her mom, Christy Beeler-Rose, cheer for the Indianapolis Colts. In 1997, when Carissa was just 4 years old, Carissa would watch as her mom danced and somersaulted around the RCA Dome during halftime shows.
“The dream of following in my mom’s footsteps started as a little girl,” Carissa says.
Blazing a Trail
Beeler-Rose’s performing dreams began at a young age, too. “I had been in dance since I was 4. Then my neighbor introduced me to cheerleading,” Beeler-Rose says. “I first became interested in cheerleading in 6th grade. I decided to cheer instead of dance from 7th to 12th grade.”
Beeler-Rose first cheered for the Indianapolis Colts in 1989, when she was 19 years old. Then, she took a break after the season to start her family.
Then in 1997, as a mother of three — Carissa was 4 years old and her twin siblings were 5 months old — Beeler-Rose tried out for the team again and made it. She continued to make the team for the next three seasons.
How did she balance raising three kids with professional cheerleading? “I had a lot of support from my mom and mother in law,” Beeler-Rose says. “They were my built-in babysitters. I was very lucky to have such a support system to help me fulfill my passion for cheer and dance.”
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Carissa grew up surrounded by dance and cheerleading. Not only did she watch her mom cheer professionally, but she was always hanging around the dance studio/cheerleading gym that Beeler-Rose co-owned.
“I was always there with her,” Carissa remembers. “Many would refer to me as the ‘gym rat.’ I vividly remember the Colts Cheerleaders practicing at the studio.”
“Carissa was born into the cheer and dance world,” Beeler-Rose says. “I owned a gym her whole life. She didn’t know any different, but she was a natural and I knew she would continue after high school.”
Carissa did all-star cheerleading during high school, then collegiate cheerleading, and then worked for Universal Cheerleading Association in her early college years. The dream of being a Colts Cheerleader never left her heart, but the dream started to become more distant once she got married and had a family.
“However, I never stopped talking about how I would love to pursue my life-long dream,” Carissa says.
After having her third baby, Carissa decided that it was now or never, and auditioned to be a part of the 2018 team. Carissa made the team — much like her mother did almost 20 years prior. “I am so thankful that I put my fears aside and went for it!” Carissa says.
And now, the roles are reversed. Beeler-Rose gets to watch in awe as her daughter cheers for the Indianapolis Colts, the same team she cheered for decades earlier.
“It is the best feeling that a parent can have watching your daughter on the field,” Beeler-Rose says. “It brings back so many wonderful memories. It’s hard not to brag about it, but I am so proud to say that my daughter is a Colts Cheerleader, just like I was.”
Balancing It All
Beeler-Rose will tell you that balancing professional cheerleading with raising three kids is challenging — but completely worth it. And now, Carissa is getting to experience this unique challenge herself.
“I am the only member on the team who is a mother, and oftentimes, that brings a level of difficulty that others may not understand,” Carissa says. “But this challenge that I face is also something that has become a strength. I feel that cheering has made me a better parent in many ways. Being a part of the Colts organization has challenged me to a better person, constantly pushing me out of my comfort zone and allowing me to be part of something greater than myself. I hope to inspire my children to know the importance of doing something that you love, even when life is busy and overwhelming.”
Like Beeler-Rose, Carissa relies heavily on the support of her family and friends for helping her realize her dreams. “I have a tremendous support system that consists of my husband, family and friends,” Carissa says. “It would not be possible to do what I get to do without them.”
The Next Generation
Carissa’s daughters — 6-year-old Elsie and 4-year-old Emerie — have seen their mother perform on the field, just like Carissa watched her mother perform all those years ago. Will they want to follow in their mother and grandmother’s footsteps?
“My hope is that if dancing and the dream to become a Colts Cheerleader lights their hearts on fire, then my answer is 100% yes!” Carissa says. “It would be a very proud moment. As their mom, I can only hope that they find something that they love to do and go after it.”