DCC Alumni Spotlight – Ronda Cates
“We were on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Mediterranean ocean, performing for 7,000 service men,” explained Ronda Cates, a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader for six years over a 10 year period ending in ‘99. “As the sun set, we danced on bomb carrier crates, with a huge American flag behind us. In front of us, were the commanders of the ship and there was a large hole (opening) on the side of the ship.” Lining the horizon with her hands, she described an unbelievable memory on one of her many USO tours with Show Group. “At the end of the night, everyone stood up and all the navy men did three cheers for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders- Hip-hip hooray! Hip-hip-hooray! Hip-hip-hooray! Then they threw their hats up into the air. I still have one of those hats,” she said with a full heart. “Those are the types of memories I want you to have.”
I was so fortunate to have met Ronda on a Zoom call that we scheduled. Two minutes into the call, it was like I had known her my entire life. We spoke for over three hours about what an amazing journey she had as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. She was eager to hear about my journey, having just ended my second season. I told her about my adventure from Honolulu, Hawaii to the Big D, and shared my favorite memory- performing with Queen and Adam Lambert. Ronda’s time as a DCC included unforgettable moments such as having worn different styles of our iconic uniform, cheering at two winning Super Bowls, and performing on various entertainment shows like David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Saturday Night Live.
Her connection with the Dallas Cowboys only grows stronger as she continues to cherish all the memories and friendships that she made over the years. “Those women are my best friends, still to this day. They were all bridesmaids in my wedding, just like Kelli says. All my bridesmaids were Cheerleaders, all my best friends were Cheerleaders,” she told me.
Practices on the field with her team, time in the locker room, going on tour, and the moments when no one was looking- these are her fondest memories. Times that her and her teammates spent hours practicing into the night as Judy made them run choreography for halftime performances. During Ronda’s time as one of America’s Sweethearts, the team would perform a new pregame every single week. Those practices and that level of commitment was hard, but she assured me that she could count on her team to always make each other laugh.
Ronda explained how she and her teammates have had challenges in their lives that really tested friendships and she remains amazed how this sisterhood of women will always be there for each other, surrounding each other with love and support to help get through tremendous obstacles. “Someone is always there with a hug, or with a solution, or to help me celebrate,” she said. “It’s a sisterhood that is irreplaceable.” Even as an alumnae, Ronda shared that the ladies all know and accept each other and their loyalty for one another goes unmatched.
As we wrapped up our call, we exchanged phone numbers and made plans to meet in Seattle, where she currently resides, and where I travel to visit my little sister. Even though we were on the team at different times, we connected as if we put on the boots and took the field together every day. She left the call saying, “This time and this journey that you’re on, you’re just at the beginning. Savor it”.