“Often imitated but never equaled.”
For decades, that phrase has been associated with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (DCC), and truer words have never been spoken. The most iconic cheer squad in all of sports has developed into an international phenomenon.
Originally, the Cowboys utilized high school students with traditional cheers to lead the crowd. Dee Brock directed the group until 1965, when upon attending a high school game, she met Frances Roberson. Brock asked Roberson, a local high school drill-team director, to add dance elements to the sidelines.
With a glamorous stadium opening in the early 1970s came inspiration from Cowboys President Tex Schramm, who charged Brock with developing a more polished team of entertainers. The style and influence of newly hired Choreographer Texie Waterman, along with the debut of a flashy star-spangled outfit, resulted in the birth of a DCC image that would later change entertainment in all of sports.
The pioneers and trailblazers of their profession, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders grew in popularity throughout their second decade under the direction of Suzanne Mitchell. In 1976, the DCC captivated 75 million viewers from Super Bowl X, propelling the elite squad into the one-of-a-kind sensation they are today. Just as the nickname America’s Team was coined in recognition of the club’s success on the football field, so too were the Cheerleaders, unrivaled in their beauty, style, athleticism, and popularity, later tabbed America’s Sweethearts.
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders President Charlotte Jones has entrusted the group to Director Kelli McGonagill Finglass and Choreographer Judy Trammell since 1991. This dynamic duo continues to pursue performance excellence that separates the DCC from any other cheerleading squad or dance team in the world.
Unlike the football players who compete in the fall and early winter, the Cheerleaders make appearances and perform throughout the year. To date, the DCC have made 83 United Service Organizations (USO) tours, spanning 42 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iceland, Greenland, and Cuba.
For their continuous commitment and dedication to entertaining US troops, the Cheerleaders were the first recipients of the USO’s Spirit of Hope Award and have been honored with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall of Fame Award. They have also earned the American Legion’s Distinguished Service Medal.
But it’s not just the squad itself that has received high praise. In 2018, the classic blue-and-white DCC uniform was added to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History collection as a permanent symbol of pop culture.
Indeed, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders’ influence on pop culture has been widespread. Self-titled, made-for-television movies in 1979 and 1980 both received top ratings, and they have made guest appearances on shows like American Idol, Conan, The Late Show with David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The View. In addition, the women have competed for charity on 1 vs. 100 and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? They are also heading into the 15th season of CMT’s longest running and highest-rated series, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.
Of course, the DCC’s influence has gone beyond the small screen, with numerous national magazine covers, their annual swimsuit and sideline calendars, Mattel Barbie dolls, and their famous 1977 poster, one of the best sellers of all time.
Despite the publicity and recognition, the priority for the DCC remains community service and making countless appearances to lift spirits. Those include visits to schools, hospitals, and nursing homes, as well as hosting youth dance and cheer camps. The DCC have also supported nonprofit charities such as The Salvation Army, the American Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, and Susan G. Komen.
Whether they’re cheering on the sidelines at AT&T Stadium, performing on USO stages worldwide, or appearing on televisions in homes across the country, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are an institution that is truly unmatched.