It’s been a rough season for the Houston Texans.
The Texans’ cheerleading squad, with a roster that includes two rookies from Galveston County, has fared much better.
League City’s Shannon Rai Baty and Santa Fe’s Jessica Venable will be the biggest county stars on the sidelines at Reliant Stadium today, when the Texans take on the visiting Denver Broncos.
The 21-year-old Baty, a graduate of Clear Creek High School who hopes to work as a news reporter in the future, has been a cheerleader and dancer for most of her life.
She also has extensive experience supporting Houston.
“Growing up, I’ve always been a Texans fan with my family,” Baty said in an interview on the Texans’ website.
Baty and Venable were among hundreds to try out for the cheerleading squad.
Rallying the crowd and performing dance routines provide plenty of challenges, and the cheerleaders work both on and off the field.
Baty, Venable and the rest of the squad also regularly make appearances at charity events to support the team and community.
Venable, 21, wanted to be a veterinarian growing up, but said the electric atmosphere of a professional football game won her over.
“I love the Texans because the fans at games are just so pumped, and the energy from the crowd just gets everyone going,” she said in an interview on the Texans’ website.
Raising that energy at Reliant Stadium today could be an uphill battle.
Denver is currently one of the strongest teams in the NFL, and is expected to trounce a struggling Houston team — the Broncos are a two-score favorite in Las Vegas.
Fans who began the season with dreams of the Texans making a Super Bowl appearance have had their hopes repeatedly dashed over the course of this season, which wraps up for Houston in about a week.
With Venable and Baty on the sidelines alongside the rest of the cheerleading squad, Galveston County fans still have cause to root for the home team.
View extra photos of Baty and Venable in action on the In Focus photography blog.