Megan Welter had been dancing since she was a child and dreamed of becoming an NFL cheerleader for many years.
“I loved it,” she told KNXV-TV, “I danced competitively at a studio from age of nine, all the way through high school, and then I was on my college dance team.”
But instead of pursuing her dreams after graduation, Welter took a break from dancing and chose a very different path.
It was a path she stayed on for seven years.
And where did it lead?
“The war was going on at the time when I graduated college, so I wanted to take a job that was going to be meaningful,” she told KNXV-TV, “so I decided to join the Army.”
“When I first joined, I went to basic training and from there I went to officer candidate school, so I was commissioned a second Lieutenant at the end of April in 2007, and from there I became cable platoon leader and I deployed a month later from Henning to my unit to Iraq,” she told the station.
“I was deployed to Joint Base Belad which is about an hour North of Baghdad,” she added. “At first, it was, it was scary you know, but um, it’s what I signed up to do.”
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In Iraq, Megan didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about dance, she had bigger problems on her mind. “Our biggest threat to the base was, where we were at was incoming mortars and rockets.”
Her job in Iraq, critical to the success of the troops who were on the front lines, “My job was to make sure that the war fighters the soldiers that were actually out doing combat missions were able to communicate.”
Welter spent 16 months in Iraq. Then after her time in the Army ended, she pondered whether she might still try out for an NFL cheerleading spot, a friend pushed her to throw caution to the wind and “just do it.”
So last year, Welter tried out for the Arizona Cardinals cheerleading squad and heard something she’ll never forget.
“I remember my number being called and uh, it was 118, and they called 118, I couldn’t believe it,” she told KNXV. “I’m in finals. Then I knew, I was like, ‘I want to make this team.’”
Which, of course, she did. “It’s just been such an amazing experience and to be at this age and still be able to do this, and to do it after you know, taking such a long break, it’s been really exciting,” she told the station.
But Welter hasn’t completely left the military: “I’m currently a reservist. I am a signal officer for a military police battalion that’s out of Scottsdale.”
And as you might expect, the stirring moments when the national anthem is sung before Sunday kickoffs means something special to her: “When you see the flag, it means a lot…because our country has given us so many freedoms and to be a part of fighting for that and maintaining that…yes, it gives me goose bumps, I can’t help it.”
Check out her story below, via KNXV-TV:
(H/T: Business Insider)