By David Fong
BOWLING GREEN — It’s not often lives are forever changed in the fourth grade.
But that’s exactly what happened to Kiersten Owens as she sat in class at St. Patrick Elementary School in Troy nearly a decade ago.
“I remember I was in the fourth grade and one of my friends was telling me about cheerleading,” Owens said. “I started doing all-star cheerleading that year and just fell in love with it.”
That chance conversation has taken Owens through all-star cheerleading programs, on through Troy High School as a cheerleader for the football and basketball teams, and eventually on to Bowling Green State University, where she currently is a freshman cheerleader for the Falcons’ football and basketball teams.
“It actually wasn’t my intention to cheer in college,” said Owens, who returned from cheering for the BGSU football team in the GoDaddy Bowl a few weeks ago. “Toward the end of my senior year at Troy, I realized I didn’t want to stop cheering.”
As her cheerleading career at Troy was winding down and she was looking to attend college, Owens participated in a cheerleading clinic on the Bowling Green campus. She immediately caught the eye of Bowling Green’s coaches, who approached her about trying out for the team.
“They told me I should try out for the team in April,” Owens said. “I tried out and I made the team. It was a good fit for me. Both of my parents (Chris and Linda Owens) went to Bowling Green and I just loved it when I visited there. Everything really worked out for me.”
She started cheering for the Bowling Green football team — which has developed into one of the premier teams in the Mid-American Conference — and immediately fell in love with the Falcons’ rabid fan base.
“Our fans are the best,” Owens said. “Bowling Green fans are always really excited and everyone is always really into the game. It’s a lot of fun cheering for our fans.”
When the football team qualified for the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last month, Owens and the rest of the cheerleaders traveled with the team, essentially serving as the school’s ambassadors for the week.
“It was a lot of fun,” Owens said. “It was pretty crazy. We were there four or five days and got to do something pretty much every day. We got to do pep rallies, we got to do a mayor’s luncheon for some pretty important people — it was a fun trip. We got to do so many things.”
Currently, Owens — a physical therapy major — is cheering for the Bowling Green men’s and women’s basketball teams. She said she hopes to continue her career the next three years until she graduates.
“I love it,” she said. “I hope I can keep doing it if my academics let me.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong