1st row, L-R: Sally Singleton, Jeannette Gaddis, Nelda Tate, Patty Saunders, Carolyn Duggan
2nd row: Mary McCord, Sandy Hill, Phyllis Angona, Mary Glen Joy, Jeanenne Grammer, Vickie Billion, Barbara Eason
1st row, L-R: Lana Corvitt, Bebe Lopez, Kathy Bone
2nd row: Robin Cash, Dimi Athens, Karen Kanatzar
3rd row: Pam Hill, Jeannette Gaddis, Suzy Groth, Mary McCord
4th row: Nelda Tate, Glenda Straw, Linda Kimbrell
1st row: Sandra Sutherland, Yolanda Chapa, Norma Salinas
2nd row: Carolyn Davis, Bebe Lopez, Vickie Brantley, Judy West
3rd row: Susan Hall, Becky Kuhatschek, Lana Corbitt, Gaye Aarant
Front row: Barry Finkelstein, Rick Gump, Bill Lang, Clyde Melville, Jerry Perry, Joe Glickman
Back row: Chris Campbell, Devvy Swanson, Charlotte Biddle, Diane Peek, Beth Wilson, Mary Cathey
Front row: Ronnie McGee, Steve Utley, Bobby Newman, Donnie Singleton, Mark Cordray, Terry Weston
Back row: Becky James, Billie Lothridge, Bebe Lopez, Jane Webb, Karen Hunt, Janie Petty
Front seat: Curt Young, Boo Curry, Lee Jackson
Back seat: Zack Gibson, Connie Garren, Phil Baker, Mary Kathy, Barbie Johnson
Front row: Bobby Robinson, Barbara Ramsey, Linda Holyfield, Joel Williams
Back row: Mary Jean Legg, Ray Borrego, Dana Grigger, Cornelius Jackson, Eunice Taylor
1st row: Rosalind Barry, Johnny Reed, Director Dee Brock, Sherry Atkinson, Tex Knight, Millard Elder
2nd row: Paul Ott, Richard Wallace, Janie Chambers, Jeanne Carter, Cindy Armstrong, Lee Jackson, Judy Tsukahara, Gary Freeman, Keith Graham
3rd row: Christina Krise, Susie Kendall
Front row: Sara Stevenson, Jim Baker, Kathy Morgan
Middle row: Cindy Armstrong (on fender), Doug Connolly (in car), Director- Dee Brock
Back Row: Terry Brooks, Jimmy Hale, Yolanda Rodriguez, Becky Chamberlain, Steve Craig, Wanda Lindley, Sam Garcia, Toni Lemeli, Gayle Cordray, Tav Walraven
1st row: Mark Leatherwood, James Baker, Cheryl Chambers, Virginia Davidson, Mrs. Dee Brock, Director, Candy Jones
2nd row: Nancy Harrison, Livvy Villarreal, Laurie Harris, Paul Keen
3rd row: John Craven, Gayle Cordray, William Booty, Chuck Ball, Mike Crutcher, Mike Joyce, Debra Sholtess, Larry Probeck
William Booty, Patrick Stark, Kent Reese, Mike Crutcher, Kim Manning, Bruce Pfieffer, Steve Jett, “Happy” Mather, Jeff Herdrich
Debbie Doss, Donna Doss, Anita LeRoy, Kathy Poe, Becky Gealy, Becky Cauley, Marcia Neal, Valerie Brunson, Cheryl Chambers, Dee Brock- Director
Mary Linda Williams, Donna Darden, Vanessa Baker, Georgia Ann Fry, Kim Patterson, Director Dee Brock, Sherie O’Brien, Sue Slaughter, Luann Carter, Debbie Doss, Donna Doss
Sherry Ann Fulkerson, Renee Walker, Betty Jefferson, Patty Head, Jamie Johnson, Francis Roberson- Asst. Director, Dee Brock- Director, Virginia Mauldin, Skipper Skeins, Luann Carter, Sherri Strudwick, Valesta Henderson
Rosemary Hall, VonCiel Baker
Delores McAda, Carrie O’Brien, Dixie Smith, Deanovoy Nichols, Anna Carpenter
Front row: Debbie Green, Susan Koehner, VonCiel Baker, Delores McAda
Middle row: Anna Carpenter, Beverly Kirven, Cylinda Whitfield, Sherie O’Brien, Vanessa Baker
Back row: Vicki Hammons, Dixie Smith, Beverly Flower, Paula Foster, Benita Briggs, Pamela Davis
Front row: Kitty Chapman, Debbie Stansbury, Beverly Kirvin, Pam Davis, Vanessa Baker, Carla Harbert, Becca Wells
Middle row: Susan Forrester, Belinda Berry, Melanie White, Deborah Rogers, Beverly Flower, Pat Renaud, Gwenda Swearengin
Back row: Becky McGee, Marty Wynne, Merry Sales, Linda Dillard, Lynn Heitman, Jenny Clark, Pam Seal
L-R: Vanessa Baker, Kitty Chapman, Carla Harbert, Gwenda Swearengin, Benita Briggs, Sheri O’Brien, VonCiel Baker, Vicki Hammons, Beverly Flower, Susan Forrester, Debbie Stansbury, Pat Renaud, Beverly Kirven, Pam Davis, Deborah Rogers
1st row: Pat Renaud, Vanessa Baker, Pam Davis, Benita Briggs, Carla Harbert, VonCiel Baker, Shirley Drozd, Debbie Wagener
2nd row: Meg Rossi, Monica Muehlhause, Suzette Hash, Debi Sue Hall, Cynde Lewis, Dawn Stansell, Kelly Williams, Donna Miller
3rd row: Suzie Holub, Sharon Clement, Tina Jimenez, Cindy Smith, Deborah Rogers, Sheila Hill, Garla Griffin, Rhonda Sellers
4th row: Cindy Sikes, Susan Pierson, Charyl Russell, Cheri Adams, Shannon Baker, Deborah Howser, Linda Kellum, Sherrie McCorkle
1st row: Vanessa Baker, Cheri Jo Adams, Shannon Baker, Jeanie Cavett, Gay Terrell, Patty Taylor, VonCiel Baker
2nd row: Meg Rossi, Debbie Wagener, Suzette Russell, Monica Muehlhause, Tami Barber, Syndy Garza Sharon Null, Cynde Lewis
3rd row: Debbie Kepley, Charyl Russell, Jill Waggoner, Connie Redden, Lisa Wittrock
4th row: Tina Hernandez, Linda Kellum, Benita Briggs, Carla Barnes, Angela Luddington, Sherrie Worthington
5th row: Micheling Austin, Carolyn Neu, Debbe Costanzo, Pam Davis, Rhonda Sellers, Suzette Hash, Janice Garner
1st row: Vanessa Baker, Connie Dolan, Benita Briggs, Gay Terrell, VonCiel Baker, Tami Barber, Suzette Russell
2nd row: Kim McKenney, Syndy Garza, Lauren Moss, Shannon Baker, Tammy Roberts, Debbie Wagener, Geni McKelvey, Sherrie Worthington
3rd row: Laurie Murdoch, Robin Sindorf, Tina Hernandez, Micheling Austin, Cindy Sikes, Jill Waggoner, Kristi Matthews, Susan Jones
4th row: Pam Davis, Ann Briggs, Denise Doran, Michelle Vaughan, Suzette Sholz, Left Squad, Teri Richardson
5th row: Angela Luddington, Angel Bland, Susan Lollie, Debi Brooks, Kim Kilway, Debbie White, Jeanie Cavett
1st row: Geni McKelvey, Connie Dolan, VonCiel Baker, Suzette Russell, Tammy Roberts, Debra Harris
2nd row: Suzi Kendrick, Vanessa Baker, Shannon Baker, Gay Carter, Tami Barber, Syndy Garza, Susan Jones
3rd row: Renee Pipkin, Kim McKenney, Left Squad, Debbie White, Teri Richardson, Debi Brooks, Jill Waggoner, Sherrie Worthington, Michelle Vaughan, Jeanne Monfort, Deidre McClain
4th row: Stephanie Scholz, Fredelyn Walters, Billie Gosdin, Lauren Moss, Suzette Scholz, Kim Kilway, Angel Bland, Anita Jefferson
5th row: Left Squad, Natalynne Walton, Left Squad, Pam Richey, Donna Wichita, Left Squad, Doris Boettigheimer, Angelia Pannell
1st row: Wendy White, VonCiel Baker, Janet Fulkerson, Judy Trammell, Tammy Roberts, Terri Bangerter, Suzette Derrick
2nd row: Stephanie Scholz, Gracie Reed, Carole Wilkinson, Linda Nelson, Cheryl Balderas, Debbie Causey, Debbie White, Jeanne Monfort
3rd row: Debbie Aycock, Teri Richardson, Carrie Currie, Nancy Townes, Renee Pipkin, Donna Wichita, Toni Washington, Jayne Ann Maxwell, Kim Kilway, Angelia Pannell
4th row: Leslie Willard, Vicki English, Kendall Keller, Sonia Patterson, Karen Marshall, Annette Bilbrey, Pam McTague, Doris Boettigheimer, Anita Jefferson
1st row: Soomi Wildschut, Dana Presley, Terri Bangerter, Rhonda Cumby, Judy Trammell
2nd row: Donna Wichita, Sheri Williams, Lori Roberts, Janet Fulkerson, Doris Boettigheimer, Toni Washington, Anita Jefferson, Kelly Gray, Jeanne Monfort, Teri Richardson
3rd row: Cheryl Balderas, Ranie Lindeman, Susan Raborn, Dawan McPeak, Stephanie Neurohr, Leslie Willard, Tonya Turner, Debbie Causey
4th row: Sonia Patterson, Annette Bilbrey, Carrie Currie, Melinda May, Meladie Mitchell, Angelia Pannell, Kim Rockel, Left Squad, Melissa White
1st row: Annette Birdwell, Kelly Gray, Kim Bateman, Left Squad, Robin Roberts, Angelia Pannell
2nd row: Sherri Mallard, Dianna Hart, Kaye Boone, Sandy Matthews, Stacy Stanaland, Toni Washington, Sheri Williams, Michele Messer
3rd row: Judy Trammell, Susan Widmer, Dana Presley, Lori Sandridge, Michelle Cole, Melinda May, JoAnne Hall, Kim Chapman, Rhonda Cumby, Annie Adkins
4th row: Cindy Rodriguez, Tisha Sulak, Kim Rockel, Leslie Bowling, Wendy Fasang, Teri Richardson, Dee Dee Murphy, Left Squad, Nasha Thomas, Lorie Clark, Melissa White
1st row: Debbie Lewis, Beth Elias, Toni Washington, Judy Trammell, Monica Mikolaj, Karen Faber
2nd row: Meladie Mitchell, Annie Adkins, Kim Bateman, Michele Perpetua, Beth Dreyer
3rd row: Kim Oden, Laci Folks, Michele Messer, Kelly Zaloudek, Sheri Williams
4th row: Karla Haviland, Michelle Cole, Marcie Malone, Dana Presley, Stacy Stanaland, Melinda May, Candy Causey, Dee Dee Murphy, Deanna Childers
5th row: Debbie Murtland, Aurora Austin, Marcia Smith, Allison Dobson, D’Arcy Dentino, Taunya Plumlee, Kelly McKee, Nadajalah Bursey, Lori Neal-Mock, Tisha Sulak
1st Row: Deanna Childers, Annie Adkins- Billings
2nd Row: Left squad, Beth Elias, Kim Bateman, Debbie Lewis, Dana Presley, Tisha Sulak, Michele Messer, Leslie Haynes, Tamara Fulton
3rd Row: Beverly Rogers, Eydie Guevara, Vicki Foster, left squad, Rebecca Solis, Lori Neal, Vikki Wells, Lisa Soriano, Lisa Lonvick
4th Row: Donna McGowan, Sonja Samuel, Kelli McGonagill, Lori Sandridge, Cynthia Love, Lisa Limbock, Peggy Kinn, Julee Graham
5th Row: Kim Stevens, Sarah Gibson, Gina Piazza, Tina Miller, Susan Dees, Suzy Roberts
1st Row: Vicki Foster, Tiffany Pate, Courtney Riggs, Beth Elias
2nd Row: Susan Goldi, Julee Graham, Eydie Guevara, Kim Stevens, Deanna Childers, Leslie Haynes, Lori Mock, Tamara Fulton, Gina Piazza, ChaChis Ortiz
3rd Row: Debbie Lewis, Becky Kuhn, Kelly Zaloudek, Judy London, Laci Folks, Mary Reynolds, Rena Morelli, Deborah Duffey, Peggy Kinn, Kelli McGonagill, Sonja Samuel, Sheri Scholz, Barbara May
4th Row: Rhonda Borth, Cindee Doughty, Jana Shepherd, Karen McCaghren, Natasha McCarley, Keri Baird, Kim Wiman, Stacy Smith, Tracy Smith
1st Row: Tiffany Pate, Julee Graham, Gina Piazza, Cindee Doughty, Vicki Foster, Susan Goldi,
2nd Row: Shelly Patton, Judy London, Courtney Riggs, Lindsay Merritt
3rd Row: Bridgette Jordan, Barbara May, Kim Stevens, Peggy Kinn, Angie Simpson, Kelli McGonagill, Tamara Fulton, Belinda Barham, Marion Cooper,
4th Row: Dianne Granger, Kaye Claybourne, Michelle Druga, Kari Sigle, Dawn Broadus, Erin Venable, Krista Parker, Jana Mayo, Angela Morris,
5th Row: Kristy Clark, Cherie Barton, Amanda Byrd, Valerie Almengor, Misty Norwood, Norann McDonnell, Alona Wood, Bernadette Chaires
1st Row: Linda Randle, Alona Wood, Lindsay Merritt, Shelly Patton, Cherie Barton, Carolyn Ustby
2nd Row: Keri Baird, Karen Morgan, Lori Mock, Judy London, Kelli McGonagill, Julee Graham, Bridgette Jordan
3rd Row: Leigh Gilbreath, Charlotte Lindsey, Dawn Broadus, Angela Morris, Kristy Marker, Dari Partaine, Jana Mayo, Norann McDonnell, Tammie Curren, Kaye Claybourne, Aimee Sprague
4th Row: Jill Giddens, Cindy Adamson, Dawn Alston, Vicki Falkenberg, Shannon Hall, Angela Sapolio, Dina Brown, Sue Hollingsworth, Cheri Motes, Sheila Slaughter
1st Row: Allison Hopkins, Kelli McGonagill, Linda Randle
2nd Row: Twiggy Isip, Shelia Slaughter, Tina Miller, Judy London, Sue Hollingsworth, Alona Wood, Dawn Alston, Aimee Sprague
3rd Row: Candy Trammell, Shannon Hall, Jana Mayo, Nan Stutts, Leslie Ezelle, Cindy Villarreal
4th Row: Alicia Rattan, Laurie Benitez, Carole Rachal, Meredith Walker, Carista Ragan, Sheri Bloom, Elizabeth Moore, Rena Jernigan, Deon Sharp, Brittain O’Steen,
5th Row: Michelle Musick, Deborah Steltzlen, Desiree Johnson, Lori Brawley, Cara Blackmon, Leslie Hess, Michele Taylor, Paula Michalowski
1st Row: Cindy Villarreal, Cara Blackmon, Alona Wood, Judy London, Leslie Ezelle, Sue Hollingsworth, Helen Stubblefield, Carrie Blanke
2nd Row: Toni Tawater, Opal Bush, Tina Miller, Michele Taylor, Laurie Benitez, Shannon Hall, Meredith Walker, Twiggy Isip, Jennifer Frank, Deon Sharp, Sharon Schunior
3rd Row: Elizabeth Gay, Michelle Musick, Cynthia Sanders, Christi Carthel, Shelly Roper, Vicki Bennett, Michaela Sampite, Dina Brown, Kourtney Mitchell
4th Row: Shelly Boston, Wendy Polk, Christina Reza, Allison Pierce, Debbe Guntermann, Becky Delano, Stacy Walker
The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders…
The name itself brings to each of us images of an American icon – beautiful ladies decked out in blue and white uniforms cheering America’s Team on to victory; precision dance routines that require a combination of stamina, flexibility and timing that would leave most of us gasping – yet they smile and dance on; or for some, it’s the time that we met one of them and she signed an autograph and we spent a few minutes talking…the images differ, but each holds a special place. And today’s phenomenon of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders is equally special. Everywhere across the country or around the world that any of these young ladies appear thousands of fans congregate looking for the opportunity for a photograph, an autograph, or a few moments to sayhello. America’s Sweethearts have truly become the darlings of the National Football League. But it didn’t start out that way.
The Dallas Cowboys have always had cheerleaders. Tex Schramm, the Cowboys general manager at the time, with his extensive background in television, recognized that professional football had become more than sports – it was sports entertainment. He knew that the public liked pretty girls. In 1960, he tried hiring professional models for the sidelines. It was a disaster. The models were beautiful, but they were not athletes. More than 3 hours of exertion in the one-hundred-degree heat of the sidelines had left them in worse shape after the game than the football players. But, the idea just would not go away. Models had not worked, but what about dancers? As was the standard in professional football throughout the 1960’s, 1961 ushered in the era of the “CowBelles & Beaux.” These high school students from the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex were managed by Dee Brock. They cheered on the football team’s success all the way to the 1971 Super Bowl Championship. But, during the Cowboys preparations for the defense of their World Championship title in the 1972 season, a new idea was born.
Tex talked the idea over with Dee and thedecision was made to expand the established football tradition of sideline cheerleaders into a glamorous, choreographed squad of accomplished dancers that would serve as a counterpoint to the game itself. Dee recruited one of the top dancers in America, Texie Waterman, who also owned a dance studio in Dallas, to judge at the auditions and help create a squad of dancers to grace the sidelines of Texas Stadium. Sixty ladies attended that first audition. Seven were chosen. They spent their summer at Training Camp with Texie where cheers and chants were replaced with grand jetes and pirouettes. When the NFL season kicked off the fall of 1972, a major turning point occurred in Cheerleader history
. The Dallas Cowboys introduced their “new” Cheerleaders at Texas Stadium wearing new star spangled uniforms and debuting an innovative and exciting new form of gameday action. For the first time ever, anywhere, jazz dancing was blended with beauty and brought to a football field…and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders were born.
When Dee left to resume her graduate studies, Texie became the heart and soul of the new form of on-field entertainment. Her total commitment to professional creativity and disciplined dance execution found a new focus in sideline routines and field performances. As the Cheerleaders success grew, so too did the dozens of responsibilities for auditions, rehearsals, personal appearances, meetings, and all the details required to put the group in top form on the football field. Initially, Tex asked his secretary, Suzanne Mitchell, to handle managing the squad in her “spare time”, and in 1976 she become the first Director of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
While Texie perfected the performance, Suzanne piloted the organization to world-wide renown. With her guidance, dedication, and love for each of the Cheerleaders, as well as the traditions of the Squad, she succeeded in developing the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.
With Texie’s retirement in the early 80’s, Suzanne’s search for the next DCC choreographer did not have to go too far afield. Texie had succeeded in establishing a new dance form – customized for a 100 yard “stage” with a football stadium audience – and one of her most popular and outstanding DCC protégé’s was already assisting with the Cheerleaders choreography. Shannon Baker Werthmann had been receiving dance honors since the age of 5 and had spent 4 years as one of “America’s Sweethearts”. “I was looking for a choreographer who knew the field, who understood what the girls were going through”. Shannon certainly filled the bill, and for the next decade built upon the performance foundation Texie had laid.
While the crowds at Texas Stadium responded enthusiastically to this new facet of professional football, it wasn’t until November 10, 1975, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders took their next big step. During a break in the action at 5:03 in the 3rd quarter, an astute television cameraman let his lens wander over to the sidelines, catching a row of lovely young women wearing their striking blue and white uniforms. One of the Cheerleaders, Gwenda Swearingen, caught his gaze and winked, sparking a phenomenon. It probably never occurred to her that she was on national television, but millions of viewers were watching and couldn’t take their eyes off what they saw. Even legendary Monday Night Football hosts, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford commented on the wink.
The 1977 season brought a second World Championship to “America’s Team” and helped to launch “America’s Sweethearts” well beyond the football field. The ’77 squad appeared on two network television specials in the spring of 1978 – the NBC Rock-n-Roll Sports Classic and The Osmond Brothers Special on ABC. In August, the ’78 squad was featured in a Faberge shampoo commercial. September had the Cheerleaders kicking off the season for Monday Night Football by hosting their own one-hour Special on ABC entitled “The 36 Most Beautiful Girls in Texas”. Hollywood came to Dallas in November to film “The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders”, a two-hour movie that aired on January 14, 1979. In taking a 60% share of the national television audience, it became the second highest rated made-for-television movie in history. The sequel, “The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders II” aired on January 13, 1980. More recently, the Cheerleaders had a featured role in Robert Altman’s latest motion picture, starring Richard Gere, “Dr. T and the Women” which was released in the Fall of 2000.
The television appearances have continued throughout the years. The Cheerleaders have sailed on “The Love Boat” twice, battled the Dallas Cowboys on “Family Feud”, visited with “Harry & the Hendersons”, made a “Salute to Lady Liberty” and celebrated the “Billy Bob’s New Year Special” for CBS. They have joined NBC for three “Academy of Country & Western Music Awards” shows and a “Nashville Palace Show”, and been the guests of Phil Donahue, Geraldo and “The Wheel of Fortune”. They’ve even spent their Saturday night dancing on “Saturday Night Live”, made appearances with Jay Leno, David Letterman and Oprah, and performed alongside celebrities such as Clint Black, Shania Twain, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, Jessica Simpson, Billy Gilman, Neal McCoy, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Selena Gomez, and many, many more.
The International Appeal…
1978 also brought the beginnings of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders international activities. A performance at the Mirage Bowl football game in December of that year took the squad on a very successful 10-day tour of Japan. Millions of Japanese took advantage of the opportunity to see them perform in theaters and parades across the country as well as on a number of national television programs. They also completed several commercials for Mitsubishi Motors Corporation during the trip. Other international promotional tours have included trips to China, South Korea and back to Japan twice for American Airlines, a trip to Australia for Philips Consumer Products, and appearances in Peru sponsored by the Saga Company. In fact, their international appeal has proven to be a tremendous marketing tool for companies around the world needing to make an American “splash” with their campaign, including the National Football League. When the NFL wanted promotional appearances for American football in Mexico and Japan, the group they asked was the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
The Show Group…
Wherever crowds gather, the Cheerleaders unique brand of entertainment and appeal has been sought after and much appreciated. As their reputation has grown, so too have the opportunities for these extraordinary young women to share their range of talents. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Show Group was developed specifically for that purpose. Each year the most versatile and accomplished of the Cheerleaders are selected for this elite entertainment troupe. Their elaborately costumed and fully choreographed musical variety show, “America & Her Music”, has proven to be a crowd pleaser at national conventions, corporate events and government gatherings.
While the high-profile experiences of being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader are unique, for many of the members of the squad the most rewarding of their activities are in somewhat less glamorous surroundings. In 1979, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) requested their presence on a USO Christmas tour of installations in Korea. The ladies’ performances were so enthusiastically received by the thousands of American troops serving their country so very far from home that a tradition was born.
Through 2013, the Cheerleaders, the DOD and the USO have since teamed up an unprecedented 77 times to boost the morale of the men, women, and families of our U.S. military at hundreds of bases and outposts around the world. If our country’s forces are stationed there, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders stand ready to offer their own brand of thanks to these dedicated young Americans. The one-hour variety shows bring standing ovations and tears to the eyes of the audiences and the entertainers alike. The ladies have their meals in the mess halls and share in close conversations about the Cowboys, happenings in the States and loved ones at home.
It is a special time. So special in fact that in 1991 the Cheerleaders were honored to receive the USO’s prestigious “50th Anniversary Award” and in 1997 their years of distinguished service the men, women and families of America’s Armed Forces was recognized with the presentation of the USO’s first ever “Spirit of Hope Award”. The Veterans of Foreign Wars acknowledged the Cheerleaders continued commitment with their “Hall of Fame Award” in 20002 and in 2013 the American Legion bestowed the highest honor, “The Distinguished Service Medal, on the Cheerleaders “not for what they’ve done on the football field, but for what they’ve done off the field over 35 years of continuous support for the U.S. military.”
Most of the Cheerleaders non-game appearances are done for charity. They have lent their support to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Salvation Army, the East Texas Angel Network, The USO, the Association for Hearing Impaired Children, Veterans Administration Hospitals, the March of Dimes, American Heart Association, Arthritis Foundation, Cancer Society, United Way, Variety Club Telethons, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation – in addition to their annual visits to numerous nursing homes and children’s hospitals.
This unique group of young women has a deep responsibility: they assume a corporate identity, yet they cannot lose sight of themselves as individuals. It is a basic concept of the organization that each person in the stadium or in the audience has a mental picture of their ideal girl – and the squad offers someone for each of them to identify with. As in the past, almost every phase of the American woman is represented: teachers, secretaries, company executives, homemakers, nurses, students, medical technicians, fashion coordinators, accountants, sales and advertising representatives, file clerks, receptionists, cashiers, dental hygienists, flight attendants, etc. Some are single, some are married – several have children. Typically, they range in age from 18 to 36, although there is no upper age limit. They are from small towns and big cities. Some have been performing for years with extensive dance backgrounds and some come to the Squad with no training at all, but have the gift of showmanship and the ability to learn. What they all have in common is the dedication to responsibility and commitment to excellence that being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader requires.
Each spring up to 600 young women from across America converge on AT&T Stadium in pursuit of their dream to become a member of the DCC. Most are attending college or pursuing their chosen professional career. Some are homemakers and moms. All believe they ‘have what it takes’ and are determined to demonstrate that to the panel of judges.” And although they receive a bye into the Finals, even the members of the previous year’s squad must once again compete in the hope of reclaiming a position. The Preliminaries, Semi’s, and Finals of the audition process result in the selection of approximately forty-five “training camp” candidates. From May until late July this elite corps rehearses almost every evening for four or more hours at a time under the critical eyes of their Director, Kelli McGonagill Finglass and Choreographer Judy Trammell.
All rehearsals of the 50-plus song and dance numbers in each season’s repertoire are mandatory. If a Cheerleader misses a rehearsal prior to a home game, she will not be allowed to perform at that game. Anyone with two unexcused absences prior to a home game is subject to being released from the squad. The axiom of “practice makes perfect” certainly applies. And while perfection is the common goal of each of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, excellence is the standard of the entire organization. The set of rules which govern each lady’s appearance and performance is lengthy and explicit. Each girl is individually counselled on personal grooming, makeup, physical fitness and interpersonal communications. Cheerleaders receive training in etiquette, communications skills, media relations and fan mail. The DCC uniform may be worn only with the organizations specific authorization.
With the opening of Texas Stadium, Tex Schramm and Dee Brock had an opportunity to reimagine the uniform, squad, and style of the cheerleaders. The uniform itself is a carefully guarded trademark and may not be duplicated in any way without the written permission of the DCC. The internationally recognized blouse, vest and shorts were originally designed by Paula Van Waggoner, of the Lester Melnick store in Dallas. Since first introduced with the formation of the squad in 1972, there have been only six modifications to the uniform. In May of 1989 the original “go-go” boot had gone out of style and a more western oriented design was selected. In 1991, the large buckled belt was left behind in favor of shorts with a more flattering cut. 1992 brought a cowboy-style boot to the uniform, and in 1993 crystals were added to outline the fifteen stars on the vest and shorts. 1994 brought a more western shape to the blouse lapels, and finally, in 1999 crystals were added to the fringe line of the vest. The 30th anniversary of the internationally recognized uniform welcomed a return of an update of the belted short in 2002. The final touch to the uniform was the exclusively designed buckle by Dallas Artisan and sculptor, Brad Oldham, in 2006. Each modification has been carefully considered by Director, Kelli McGonagill Finglass, and implemented to enhance the image in which the uniform has represented from the very beginning – consistent through the efforts and dedication of Ms. Leveta Crager, who made, and hand tailored every uniform worn by a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader for twenty-four seasons. That handcrafted tradition continues under the watchful eyes and skilled hands of Ms. Lisa Dobson.
Today’s Cheerleaders are guided by 2 former DCC – Kelli McGonagill Finglass and Judy Trammell. Both, as young girls aspired to don the uniform and perform for the fans while cheering on “their” Cowboys. Both felt the intimidation of being among hundreds of beautiful, talented young women at their first audition. Both endured the long hours of rehearsals preparing their minds and bodies for the exacting precision expected of every performance. Both embraced the rewards of the truly unique experiences inherent in being a DCC. And, both have, from that foundation, grown to become the guardians of the past and the shepherds of the future.
Kelli’s road to becoming Director in 1991 included five years as a Cheerleader, one year in the Cowboys’ Sales and Promotions Department, and one year serving as the Squad’s Assistant Director. She leads the Cheerleaders with passion and dedication to be the best in the world in their field of entertainment. In doing so, the standards of measure are simple: Everything must improve each year. As director of the internationally acclaimed organization, Kelli’s responsibilities are extensive. From costume design and licensing agreements to sponsorships and legal issues of employment, she must create programs that enhance the image of the DCC, while maintaining growth and development of the business. Under her stewardship, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have evolved from a highly valued operational expense of the football club to a self-sustaining business enterprise with a world-wide reach. She is a Director who also serves as a disciplinarian, mediator, consultant and administrator in all facets of the operation.
Judy’s four years of cheering led to six years as the Squad’s Assistant Choreographer. In 1991 she assumed her current role as Choreographer. With her natural creativity having been honed under Texie Waterman’s tutelage, Judy has succeeded in blending the performance traditions of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders with the latest trends in music and dance. Her relationship with the members of the Squad as both a teacher and trainer is based on high expectations buffered by her understanding nature. Her talents are displayed every time the Cheerleaders perform…from the elaborately choreographed and costumed production numbers of the Show Group to sideline routines and halftime extravaganzas featuring hundreds of cast members. Together, Kelli and Judy are partners sharing a deep respect for each other and for the heritage and the phenomenon for which they are now responsible.
Whether at a football game, a charity performance, or a sponsored autograph session, when a DCC appears in her uniform many hours have been spent in preparation and the DCC staff maintains protective control over the situation. Under the guidance of Ms. McGonagill Finglass hundreds of requests for interviews, photographs and appearances are carefully screened. Many of them must be rejected for a variety of factors which make them unsuitable by DCC standards. All appearances are arranged by contract, and if the stipulations are not fully met, the Cheerleaders will not appear. If overnight travel is required at least one member of the administrative staff will always accompany the girls. They will travel in a group, return as a group and are not allowed to go out on their own at any time during the trip. Escorts, transportation, lodging, itineraries and all other details of the trip are agreed upon prior to departure and deviations are not permitted.
All of the many precautions are to protect the image of the DCC as a whole and each Cheerleader as an individual. Their fans want and expect a first-class organization and first class young women representing that organization. Someone that they can admire and respect. The Dallas Cowboys are that kind of organization, and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are a reflection of that image.
Now into their sixth decade they are as popular as ever…if not more so. Sixteen seasons of the CMT series, “The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team”, was one of the network’s highest rated and longest running shows. There have been hundreds of media appearances in both national and local markets. They have participated in music videos, motion pictures, and been featured on numerous TV talk shows. There are now 5 different calendar products with DCC bringing cheer throughout the year and corporate show and appearance requests continue to come in from across the nation and around the world. Yet, through it all they remain committed to their long established standards of excellence and dedicated to the heritage of their tradition.
Kelli McGonagill Finglass has probably come to know the mystique of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders as well as anyone. “What we look for in our cheerleading squad is simply something for everyone – a cross section of the American woman. We want everyday ladies who can make an impact on their community: intelligent role models who are poised, attractive, confident, talented entertainers. They must be givers who understand that they themselves have been given a gift, and now have the opportunity to share that gift with others. But when the music and dancing stops, these young ladies must have the ability to relate on a one-to-one basis with fans whose ages range from infants to grandparents. In short, they must be educated, well-informed young women who represent the Dallas
Cowboys, their families and their community in a first-class manner. “The organization affords them an opportunity to broaden their own lives and enrich the lives of others as they travel throughout the United States and around the world. They are given a perspective on life that they may not have considered before. And that might lead them to reassess what’s truly important…and to share that with others.”
They are often imitated…
They are never equaled…
They are the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders!