DCC Alumni Spotlight – Kristin Pavuk DePew
Kristin Depew may be originally from Delaware, but she considers herself a born and raised Dallas Cowboys fan! Having followed America’s Team since she moved to Texas at the young age of 5, Kristin always looked up to the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. After her father’s military service with the U.S. Air Force, she and her family traveled throughout the world for his new line of work. On the way back from one of their trips abroad to Australia, Kristin was star-struck when she realized that the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders were also on her L.A. connecting flight! She had read all of the Dallas Cowboys Weekly magazines featuring the women and recalls how easy it was to recognize the cheerleaders as they boarded their flight. She even saw Judy with her famous platinum blonde hair! Kristin says the women were beautiful and kind, and the encounter stuck with her for years to come.
Kristin took dance from a young age but did not seriously practice the sport until she was 17. Though she says she had less experience than many of the other girls, Kristin auditioned for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders at age 18. She did not make the team that year, but used the experience to push her to become a better dancer. She got an overview of how she scored from Judy and took all of the DCC prep classes she could throughout that year to improve her technique and performance. The next year, Kristin gave it another go and made it further in the audition process, this time to Finals! Kristin jokes that at this point she forgot part of her solo and consequently did not make it to Training Camp. After another year filled with dance classes, the third time was a charm, Kristin’s determination and commitment finally paid off and she made the team!
Kristin cheered for two seasons in 1990 and 1991 and trained under Kelli and Judy. She has many fond memories from her time as a DCC, but will never forget the feeling that came as she and her teammates would line up in the tunnel at Texas Stadium at the beginning of the games. She explains that “all of the fans would line the railings” trying to get a quick photo of the girls before they would enter the field for their pregame and kickline performance. “It’s hard to describe the feeling but it was pure adrenaline and unbridled excitement!” Once the game began, Kristin would look forward to seeing her parents in the stands, since they had front row season tickets and attended every game. Off the field, one experience that especially stuck with Kristin was going to the children’s hospitals at Christmas time to visit with the patients. She remembers how moving these visits were and how she and Daryl Johnston, the Cowboys player she was partnered with, couldn’t help but tear up in the hallways after leaving a child’s room.
Kristin loved that the team valued tradition and especially loved the DCC prayer circle, in which all of her teammates would come together before a performance or game to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Kristin describes these focused moments as “something that hit her really deep” and even brought her closer to God. After her second season, Kristin retired and remembers Kelli jokingly giving her a hard time for hanging up her poms too soon.
Kristin moved to Las Vegas at the age of 25 and has worked as a professional presenter and on-camera host. Kristin credits her professional success to DCC, stating that “DCC has shaped everything I’ve done.” She reiterates that DCC gave her the confidence to walk into any room and to chase all of her dreams, even the ones that seemed too crazy or big. She and her husband started a video production company and have even filmed with such stars as Terry Bradshaw and Shania Twain! In 2017, she landed a dream opportunity working with Las Vegas’ first professional sports team, the Vegas Golden Knights. Kristin helped to ideate a performance squad that was on par with other NHL professional cheerleading teams. Once the Golden Aces were created, she was hired to direct and help run the team.
Kristin felt honored that she “got to be the Kelli” and absolutely loved being a part of the management side of things incorporating the indispensable knowledge and values that she learned from Kelli, Judy and the DCC. Kristin and her husband have two beautiful children, a 14-year old daughter and 18-year old son, and have successfully run their video production company for the past 21 years!
Looking back at her experience as a DCC, Kristin says that “so much has changed, and yet so little has changed.” She states that “The bar has been raised, but the traditions and core values are still the same”. Kristin says that what really brought her and her rookie sisters even closer together was when the DCC began inviting alumni to participate in the breast cancer game where they held the pink ribbon at halftime. This experience is especially poignant because Kristin’s mother, rightfully described by Kristin as a “warrior,” battled breast cancer and is now a 35-year survivor! Kristin advises all women aspiring to become DCCs “to not compare themselves to anyone else.” She acknowledges that the DCC audition process can be quite intimidating and that it is easy to think that other dancers are prettier or more skilled, but one must remember that “you are unique and bring something special to the table.” It is this mentality that allows Kristin to be fearless in all that she does and to trust that God has a plan for her.
Kristin encourages all DCCs to make the most of this incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience! “Embrace every moment you have with this organization. It goes so fast and there will never be anything else like it!” Kristin is confident that DCC will shape our lives just as much as it has hers.