Cheerleader born with genetic condition is inspiring others both on and off the field

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Posted at 11:44 AM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 14:11:47-04

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Mitch Tomlin wanted to be a Florida State Seminole cheerleader. That was his goal, and that dream was achieved this summer.

"I really love games," he said of his favorite thing he gets to do as a member of the cheer squad. "Experiencing the crowd and getting everyone hyped up, it's so much fun."

For his teammates, Tomlin was the perfect addition to the sidelines.

"He always has a smile on his face no matter what happened during his day," said senior Katie Barnette.

"He's an amazing tumbler," added Staci Sutton. "He's doing more elite skills than most people on this team."

Tomlin was born with amniotic band syndrome, a genetic condition that results in deformities of the limbs, but he's never let it hold him back.

"When I was growing up, like, I didn't really see anyone like me," said Tomlin. "So, it was never really, like, I never saw someone that I could look up to and be like, ‘OK, if they're doing it, then I can do it.’ I really had that drive, and I was like, ‘Can I do this?’ And like, it just, it feels really good to like be in the spot where I am in now."

The rest is history.

"The first time I ever stunted with him, I like kind of felt bad asking," said Barnette. "I was like, ‘Do I need to change anything?’ And he was like, 'No, just do the same thing.' I was like, 'OK.' And it hit, it was crazy."

"I don't think about it as like, oh, I have one arm, like I need to like do this a certain way. I'm like, ‘OK, how am I going to overcome this and just be like everyone else and just be like a normal athlete,’" said Tomlin.

"He never asks to be switched out of anything. It's just incredible," added Sutton. "He's an inspiration to the coaching staff as well as the entire team."

Sutton said she didn't originally see Tomlin's audition tape, as she never received it. Tomlin used his never-quit attitude, called her up, and she said as soon as she saw him tumbling, it was an easy decision to add him to the squad.