Have you ever imagined how would you thrive in life with an impairment that could make your career almost impossible? Jessica Walsh, Oakland Raiders cheerleader and SRJC student, lost her hearing when she was two months old, yet this never stopped her falling in love with dance and acrobatics.
When she was very young, her impairment was discovered and partially corrected surgically, but Jessica had to wear hearing aids. She took many speech classes and caught up with school, while trying to find a way to pursue her passion for dancing. In eighth grade, Jessica started cheering at Fierce Cheer Elite in Santa Rosa, and then was on the cheerleading team at Santa Rosa High School. In fall of 2013 she enrolled at SRJC and continued her sports career. She said she enjoyed the higher level of maturity and discipline of our team and the spirit of her peers and coaches: “I love the JC team. They are my cheer family, that’s what I call them!”
Having to constantly wear hearing aids has not stopped her from performing – she often leaves them aside, feeling the music by touching the speakers. Once she has the rhythm, she counts the steps throughout the performance. “I still have problems, I still talk funny and still say different things weird. People think that I have an accent, it’s kind of funny,” laughed Jessica.
This summer her family and friends, most of them Oakland Raiders’ fans, encouraged her to try out for the Raiderettes - the team of cheerleaders. Over 200 women were preselected for the first panel interview, and when the judges asked her about her uniqueness, she told them about the hearing impairment. She performed the acrobatics portion and convinced the judges of her spirit and her experience. Starting this August, SRJC’s Jessica Walsh is one of the 40 women cheering at Raiders’ games for the 2014/2015 NFL season.