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Kiley B., Atlanta Falcons Cheerleader

by carmine on January 28, 2014


Founder of Cheer Christian Community, Preserve The Light 

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I wasn’t always bold. I didn’t always believe. My upbringing left me with a fear of God rooted in anxiety, not reverence. So why would the Lord pick me, originally a fan and not a follower of Christ–who couldn’t make my pro team the first time I auditioned– to represent Him in an environment where Christians rarely speak out about their faith? He could have used a girl whose foundation was steady and without tarnish, whose talents awarded her a spot on any team she auditioned for the first time around. But that’s rarely how God operates.

AFC prayer circleAfter I catch my breath and put a stop to my never ending thoughts, I have to be honest: I still ponder that question from time to time, even as I conclude my second season as an Atlanta Falcons Cheerleader. My journey to finding Christ began long before I even imagined myself with pompoms. I was raised in a crazy Irish-Catholic home, where I thought the athletes praising God for their accomplishments were simply going through the steps of good publicity. I like to claim my denomination back then was that of a CEO Catholic (Christmas/Easter Only), with the exception of passing through traditions that I didn’t truly embrace or understand. We practiced keeping the facade of our family clean and shiny, but inside our family suffered in the ugliest of ways: abuse, alcoholism, adultery and foreclosure.

I was chosen to dance for Purdue University, and my competitive dance team coach was the first beacon of light into professional cheering and Christianity. Mallori was the coach any parent could only dream to send their daughter away to dance with; I watched Mal lead us and speak in ways I hadn’t seen before. I made up excuses to sit in her athletics office, just soaking in time with her. Little did I know the Lord was using Mal (a 7-year dancer for the Indiana Pacers) to get me one step closer to Him. Mallori held tightly to her morals and stood by her religion while shining on the dance floor. I wanted the light that was shining in my coach to shine in me, but I wasn’t ready to surrender.

 Due to the havoc at home, I continued look to God for guidance while questioning Him. It wasn’t until after graduation, when I ran to Atlanta, that my true walk with Christ began. Giving church a chance was a promise I had made to my mom upon leaving her in Chicago, so reluctantly, I started attending Andy Stanley’s North Point church near Atlanta. I was uncomfortable and felt awkward attending church alone, with no one to cling to, but I went back week after week. I spent months crying through sermons. After joining a Bible study and teaching four year olds in Sunday school, I finally started to accept Jesus’s love. Don’t get me wrong, things didn’t get easier and trials didn’t magically disappear. But after opening my heart to Christ, He gave me a community I always needed. During the early days of melting my heartache away at church, I still held tightly to my one companion: dance. I auditioned for the Atlanta Falcons and failed. Let’s be honest, I was a hot mess and the Lord knew I wasn’t stable enough to take on the journey of a professional cheerleader or represent Him well. I was still reaching AM3P1099_2000for support and acceptance in the only world I knew. I wasn’t looking to the Lord. I didn’t consider what God had in mind for me or if my timing met His plan. The struggles, trials, failures and running were all written by God to get my attention. As I continued to grow closer to Him, auditions brought new success and new disciples to guide my way. God gave me a group gifted with a passion to compete and perform for His glory. That’s right, I’m talking about professional cheerleaders, who love Jesus and strive to live for God’s will. The first time I ever prayed out loud with a group was my rookie season with the Georgia Force Arena Football team. I had been selected as captain and looked upon to lead prayer. My teammates saw a small light inside me before I recognized it in myself.  With the Lord alive in my heart, I took a chance to audition again for the Falcons after two seasons with the Force. I went into auditions with my heart at ease, knowing now that His plan was already way better than anything I could dream up. 

PTL My first season with the Falcons spilled into the first year announcing the plans for my ministry, Preserve The Light. As a rookie, it was nerve racking to ask for time to explain the plans our Father has given to me. I dug into Nehemiah 6:3 and since the day I announced Preserve The Light at a practice the Lord has continued to pour into the ministry.  Today, my vision of Preserve The Light has grown nationally, uniting a community of Christians with Matthew 5:13-16, while rocking rhinestones on the dance floor! With chapters in Atlanta, Buffalo, and Indianapolis (and soon to come in Nashville and Charlotte), cheer sisters have become sisters in Christ. The current or former pro cheerleaders serve together in the community, gather for Bible studies and share their testimonies with the public.  I pray that we preserve His word and show others His love through our God given platform. Preserve The Light and cheering for the Falcons is not about me, it’s all about Him.

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