Twenty years is a long time to wait for your dream to come true, but as the saying goes, better late than never!
Michael Galyean was really into cheerleading in high school and planned to pursue the sport in college, too. He chose to attend the University of Tennessee, largely due to their incredible cheer program, but felt too insecure as a freshman to try out.
“I’ve always regretting not fulfilling my childhood dream,” Michael confessed on Instagram.
After graduation, Michael moved on with his life, but his mind kept going back to the missed chance to perform in college. Last year, he lost his job in retail and decided to go back to doing what he loves, acting, dancing, and performing.
“So, I’ve spent the last year just throwing darts, whether it’s been the TV work that we have here in Knoxville, in front of and behind the camera, trying different things,” he told Newsweek. “I host events around town, I work with different dance outlets.”
Somewhere along the line, Michael became friendly with Kelly Tafazolli, the University of Tennessee dance team’s Spirit Program Director. Kelly was looking for ways to spice up the team’s halftime performance and expand the fan experience, and she had an idea. Needing a regular-looking guy who can also dance, she called Michael and offered him the job.
“I knew that he could not only look the part, but he was a very talented dancer,” Kelly said.
On October 23, Kelly sent Michael a video of a dance routine she wanted him to learn by October 29. He jumped at the chance to finally fulfill his teenage dream and started practicing. He only had one chance to practice with the team for about an hour before showtime.
That’s all it took! The following Saturday, Michael wore a blue security shirt for the whole third period as the Vols played Kentucky at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. When the dance team started to perform, Michael stood conspicuously in the way of the action, drawing boos from the crowd.
It was all part of the act! Next, a man approached Michael and the men appeared to argue, but then Michael starts dancing with the entire squad behind him. The crowd of over 100,000 fans erupted in cheers and applause!
The dance team shared video of the routine on TikTok, where it went viral. Michael says the energy in the stadium felt “electric.” The roaring approval of the audience was music to Michael’s ears, especially considering his dream of being a part of the cheer squad all those years ago.
“I knew there would be some reaction, I didn’t expect that reaction and it was so shockingly warm,” he said. “It was just so well-received. It fed my 18-year-old high school cheerleading soul.”
Michael feels his story truly came full-circle in this moment. On Instagram, he wrote an open letter to “high school Michael,” urging him to “keep pushing, keep trying, and keep being you.”
“To say that this was a dream come true is an understatement,” he wrote. “Thank you to @ktafazzoli and @vol_danceteam for allowing me to check a box off on my bucket list and for making the 17 year old in me feel so alive.”
Michael will continue to pursue dance and theater opportunities as the advisor for University of Tennessee’s dance company and as a choreographer for a high school musical theater program. Isn’t it wonderful to see someone living their dream after so long?
Share this story and remind everyone: It’s never too late to pursue your passions.
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