DENVER — As the blurred orange and blue crowd roars in the background and camera crews sprawl across the field, Daniela finds herself in the middle of a dream.
It's one that lived only in her head as a child growing up in Chihuahua, Mexico, where she and her family watched the Denver Broncos play on TV every weekend. It wasn't the players Daniela was focused on. Her eyes were on the women with pom-poms that lined the field.
"It was my dream," she said about one day becoming a Denver Broncos cheerleader herself. " I couldn't stop dreaming about it."
Still living in Mexico, Daniela took up dancing and cheering. To no one's surprise, she was great. With her talent realized, she was one step closer to achieving her goal.
The opportunity quickly accelerated four years ago when she and her family vacationed in Denver. A friend of Daniela's had an extra ticket to Broncos En Espanol, a team event in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate the culture with championship trophies, photos with the players, Miles the Mascot, and, of course, the Denver Broncos cheerleaders.
"For me, that day was very special," Daniela said. "Just because I was seeing, in person, two of my idols."
Those idols were two cheerleaders Daniela had long admired on TV and social media. When she had the chance, Daniela used the few English words she knew to tell them just how much she admired them.
"With a couple of words, I could tell them that I wanted to be like them," she said. "That it was one of my dreams."
She then had to rely on her cellphone to help her translate as she told the cheerleaders that she also wanted to be on the team. The women described the audition process to Daniela, which motivated her to go back to Mexico and begin her mission to one day wear the uniform for which she longed.
"I saved some money, and I started to learn English," she said. "And I moved to the United States to pursue my dream."
That dream became reality when Daniela officially made the roster.
Soon after, she met Ariana, another rookie and proud Latina on the team. Unlike Daniela, Ariana was from the United States. More specifically, she grew up in Broomfield, where she learned to love the Broncos from an early age.
"My family is very centered around the Broncos," Ariana said. "My dad has like this whole man cave, and it's basically just Broncos stuff everywhere. And now, he's just so proud because he gets to add my pictures and stuff in there as well."
With Ariana also on the team, Daniela gravitated to her based on their similarities.
"I was grateful that another Latina was on the team because I knew that it could be hard and challenging for me being part of a team where it could be me, the only Latina there," Daniela said.
For Ariana, it was pure admiration.
"I just have the uttermost respect for her because taking that risk and truly moving here from Chihuahua, coming here not knowing a lot of English, being able to just take that risk and jump in wholeheartedly and follow her dream is truly so inspiring to me," she said.
Daniela and Ariana are in their second year on the team. Together, they hope to encourage more Latinas to try out.
"We are kind of that representation for them," Ariana said. "By them seeing us, it lets them know that they can follow their dreams. And when they look at the roster, they're like, 'That's the one I can be.' "
In fact, Daniela has already inspired more girls from Latin American countries to pursue similar dreams.
"When I made the team, I actually received many messages from different girls from Colombia, from Ecuador, from Mexico," Daniela said. "And all those girls told me, 'Since I see you there, I know that it's possible. I want to try it.' "
It's been four years since Daniela didn't have the words for the women she aspired to be. But her in native tongue, she knows just what to say to inspire another girl's American dream.
"Si, se puede, which means 'yes, you can,' " Daniela said. "You can achieve, and you can succeed in every single thing you want to do in your life. You just need to work hard and everything is possible. So, 'Si, se puede.' "
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