Mar Lyon believes she has been given a “life changing” opportunity.
Lyon, who was born and raised in Thunder Bay, won the fan vote late last week for the final spot on the Toronto Argonauts’ cheerleading squad for the upcoming Canadian Football League season.
When she first received word she had won the vote, Lyon was on a bus in Waterloo and was immediately overcome by tears.
“I don’t think it was the fact that I got the spot on the team but I think it was just the thought of the overwhelming support I got from the people of Thunder Bay and my friends down south,” Lyon said when reached by telephone on Monday.
She received nearly 20,000 votes during the voting period, which ran from March 30 through to April 4.
“It was an incredible feeling. I’m so happy for her,” said her father Rob Lyon.
“I was very pleased that Thunder Bay was behind her.”
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After going through a rough patch last year, the large amount of support was particularly meaningful for the 20-year-old.
A heavy course load at the University of Waterloo, where she is pursuing an Honours degree in Drama, combined with being away from her hometown, resulted in Lyon suffering from depression.
She remembers one period where she went through the contact list on her phone but could not find anybody she was comfortable reaching out to.
At first she was disappointed that she had to go through the wild card vote but all of the encouragement and backing she had made the experience more fulfilling.
“I can’t even put words to it. I honestly feel like a rock star. People I didn’t even know where contacting me on Facebook, telling me they had voted for me and were supporting me,” she said.
“It’s life changing.”
Cheerleading is an activity Lyon has enjoyed dating back to her elementary school days at Ecole Gron Morgan before being a member of a Hammarskjold Vikings squad that won a pair of national high school cheerleading championships.
Initially, she auditioned for a spot on the Argonauts just for the sake of giving it a shot, not expecting to make it. Lyon had spent nearly three years rehabilitating a significant shoulder injury and was just looking for an avenue to get back into dancing.
“Once I was in the audition I felt like I came to life again,” she said. “Something I was passionate about that was taken away from me was brought back. I really tried to put all my effort into that audition and I made it into the finals, much to my surprise.”
She has been working as a choreographer and actor in the Kitchener-Waterloo area while attending school and has been involved in many productions. After completing her degree she plans on pursuing education to teach theatre.
While Lyon can’t wait to take be on the sidelines at the Rogers Centre for the Argonauts first home game, there are many other aspects of her role that brings her excitement.
“It’s great that I’m going to be able to be part of that community and support a Canadian team,” she said.
“The Argonauts are part of so many different charities and foundations, for example their breast cancer awareness week, so for me to be part of this team, not only take the field to support the players and have a great fan base, but give back to Toronto and Ontario personally through donating and volunteering is special.
She just hopes the Argonauts have more success on the field than a certain Toronto hockey team had on the ice.
Follow Matt Vis on Twitter: @MattVis
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