DCC Alumni Spotlight – Makenzi Swicegood Dauwe
I had the privilege of interviewing Makenzi Swicegood Dauwe, who served as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader from 2005-2009. After her time cheering, she danced professionally in Los Angeles, California for three and a half years. She is originally from Plano, Texas, and now resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband, 3-year-old son, and 2-year-old daughter. She is currently pursuing a certification to teach and train group fitness classes at Equinox. In the meantime, she is homeschooling her children, and her husband owns a home building business.
Before her time cheering as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, she competed with Cheer Athletics, and attended KJ Dance. She moved between Nashville, Tennessee and Dallas, Texas, but she spent most of her childhood in Dallas. Makenzi decided to audition for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in December of her senior year of high school. At first, she was hesitant seeing as her background consisted mostly of cheerleading experience rather than dance. However, her favorite part of cheerleading was the performance aspect. Her decision to audition was a “spur of the moment decision,” and she wanted to chase her dream!
Makenzi was confident in her performance abilities, knowledge pertaining Dallas Cowboys’ history, and interview skills going into auditions. Interviews are one of her strong suits seeing as she thoroughly enjoys talking to other individuals. Despite having an extensive cheerleading background, she worked hard towards emulating the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders style of dance. She worked with a mentor and former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, Audrea Ulmer, at KJ Dance, who helped her prepare for tryouts. Audrea provided insightful advice pertaining style, solo outfits, makeup, and hair. Her mentorship and guidance was very important during Makenzi’s audition preparation.
Tryouts were held in various cities, including Dallas and San Antonio. She was unable to attend preliminaries in Dallas due to her high school graduation; therefore, she drove to San Antonio and signed up for auditions along with 19 other young ladies. After performing a free style routine, sideline routine, and kick-line, she advanced to semifinals, which was held in Dallas. She learned another sideline routine in Texas Stadium and performed her solo. In 2005, Makenzi was honored to start her rookie season with theDallas Cowboys Cheerleaders!
The 2005-2006 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders consisted of 18 rookies and 18veterans. Makenzi was a member of Show Group during her 4 years cheering, which required frequent travel. While cheering, she was a college student and an assistant in the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader’s office. She would also assist with summer camps at Valley Ranch each week.
Makenzi remembers seeing the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader uniform as a little girl and thinking, “Oh my, I want those stars so bad!” Now, having the honor to wear the uniform, she felt like a super hero wearing the full uniform. Her favorite part of the uniform includes the boots but, mainly the stars. The “twinkle from those stars as soon as the stadium lights hit is so iconic.”Her favorite part of game day at Texas Stadium was pregame. The second she hit the field and heard the intro music she felt a sudden rush of adrenaline, excitement, and pride. It was a feeling unlike any other! Each pregame dance was different, but the kick-line remained the same. The crowd would go wild after the jump split. Occasionally, a pregame dance would be repeated if there wasn’t a special guest, or if a song was repeated after a few weeks.
One of her greatest memories while cheering included the USO Tours to Korea each Christmas, and to Iraq during her third year. The 10-day tour to Iraq was her most impactful memory. The troops deployed to Iraq were on very high alert, and the young ladies on this tour had to dive into Iraq via combat style landing. They stayed on bases called blackout camps, which meant no one was allowed to turn on any lights as soon as the sun set. One night during a show, during intros, she saw a missile coming towards the camp, but “no one even jumped” because it was a normal occurrence.
Her favorite tradition with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders would be receiving the pinky ring. For her, it is always nice meeting other women and seeing the pinky ring that unites all former and current Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. The symbolism of sisterhood from the pinky ring triggers an immediate connection. Makenzi misses cheering with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders at games in Texas Stadium and at various performances, but the one thing she misses most would be her teammates. She had the most incredible group of friends, and they all had the best time with one another, sharing wonderful memories at campouts, charity events, volunteer opportunities, community events, etc. Her teammates were her sisters, and her sisters were her best friends. They lived through great and bad times together on a daily basis. They were able to perform together, which was special, seeing as it was everyone’s passion. All of the young ladies were able to share their passion and their love for dancing, which took the sisterhood to a whole new level. To this day, her teammates still talk about memories from USO tours, gamedays, and practices. They laugh just as hard today as they did back then. She wishes she had a video camera on every single moment to reflect back on such fond memories. Her experience sand memories during her time cheering are absolutely irreplaceable.
Her advice to any young lady trying out is to be yourself and to educate yourself. Being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader is more than just dancing and performing but also being a well-rounded woman who is familiar with football, Dallas Cowboys, and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader knowledge. It is also crucial to educate yourself about cultural aspects and current global events. For example, when one is traveling or performing with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, you may have a conversation with an individual, which will require you to uphold the standards instilled by the Dallas Cowboys organization.
Being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader has shaped her into the person she is today. She cheered during a critical, moldable period of her life, age 18-22, and she was a “sponge soaking up everything.” She gained a sisterhood, lifelong friends, a strong work ethic, tunnel vision focus, and a passionate drive to achieve her aspirations and goals. One of her greatest lessons was to always try to help others along the journey, such as charity work or community service. For example, when she would visit the children at local hospitals, that experience helped her see the world in a different light, and she wanted to inspire others with a simple smile or quick conversation that would make others feel like they are not alone. These opportunities are what make the Cowboys organization so incredibly special, and have impacted her life substantially.