When Riley Cardoza first stepped into Albertsons Stadium on the campus of Boise State University she was blown away the magnitude of it all.
It wasn’t the blue turf that caught the freshman – a former Sierra High School cheerleader and competitive dancer that just completed her first semester at the Idaho school – off guard, but the number of seats that would all be full by the time that she stepped onto the field as a member of the Boise State Mainline Dance Team.
And the experience didn’t disappoint.
“It was overwhelming when I saw how many seats there are,” Cardoza said of her first practice in the famous stadium. “All of the returners talked about how crazy it is, but my first game this year was against the University of Washington which is a big rivalry for us (and the second highest Albertsons Stadium attendance on record) and I’ve never had the type of adrenaline before.
“You’ve got more than 30,000 people screaming at the top of their lungs and you’re just a tiny pebble down there on the field and you feel like all of the eyes are on you. I’ve never felt that before. It was different.”
Cardoza, who graduated from Sierra High School last year, said that she chose Boise State above other out-of-state universities after her mother suggested that she take a trip to the campus and see what she thought about it. Knowing next to nothing about Idaho other than what she had been told, Cardoza said that she fell in love with the beautiful scenery and small-town feel.
She credits her time as a cheerleader with Sierra High School and her dance training with helping prepare her for making the next step at a Division I program, and said that she looks forward to the time that she’ll get to spend in Boise and where the performances will take her.
“Doing this has really made me love dance a lot more than I used to,” Cardoza said. “I’ve always loved it, but this has given me a new love for it. There are so many people that I’ve met through the program and a lot of the alumni and the coaching staff are awesome.
“Just talking to the people and learning about the history of Boise State just makes me love the program even more. I’m exciting about where this is going to go.”
Cardoza is the daughter of John and Glenda Cardoza. She’s currently home for the holidays and will be returning to Idaho on Jan. 11 to move on to the next season. She performs at men’s football games, men’s and women’s basketball games and women’s volleyball games.
“I love the school and I love the people – at first I didn’t know there was anything to do in Idaho. I thought it was just a bunch of potatoes,” Cardoza said. “But I fell in love with it and what sold me on it over the other schools was the price – I didn’t need to pay $45,000-a-year to go to the University of Oregon.
“And I couldn’t be happier with my decision. There are lots outdoorsy things to do up there and I’ve been having a lot of fun. I’m glad that I considered it.”