A Family Affair – DCC Sisters
In full disclosure, when the call went out to the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders alumnae for sisters to be highlighted in this piece, there was a bit of genuine confusion among the many members. After all, the relationships created within the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders organization have always been considered a true “sisterhood,” and so it is not surprising that there are many incredibly strong sister-bonds between many of the cheerleaders.
Shared experiences, travel around the world and working together to achieve excellence really do create more of a family than just an entertainment organization of close friends. Weddings, babies, health challenges and more find former teammates reaching out to one another for a lifetime.
The sisterhood is real. Tucked into that sorority of women, however, are some true related sisters. Over the decades, sisters from proud families have graced the sidelines, calendars, USO stages and more.
As a big sister myself who cheered with my own sister, it was an absolute pleasure to learn more about each of the sisters who have been members of the world famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
The Doss Sisters
Fraternal twins, the Doss sisters shared an incomparable bond and were virtually inseparable. Debbie and Donna grew up often talking to numerous strangers who were curious and had questions about twin life. This opportunity to talk easily with so many people inspired a love of the limelight. Both girls trained in ballet, jazz, tap and gymnastics, which led them to success with their junior high school drill team and then as high school cheerleaders.
In 1969, all area high school cheerleaders were eligible to try out to be a Cowboys Cheerleader. This would be the last time the team had nine boys and nine girls. The Dallas high school cheer community was a friendly one and the kids from many of the schools got together to practice cheers, gymnastics and tricks for the tryouts.
Debbie had just suffered a broken foot and was in a heavy cast. The reality and heartbreak was beginning to set in that she may not be able to try out with Donna and thus would not get to experience such a special opportunity with her.
But when the day of tryouts arrived, Debbie couldn’t sit there helplessly so she pleaded with a friend from one of the local cheer teams and he agreed to help her try out. With very little time left, Bruce and Debbie went outside to put together a combination of cheers, kicks and tricks, including a back handspring and splits.
When it was time to try out, they wowed the crowd. Donna’s try out also went well as she tumbled the length of the Adamson High School gym; in fact, the local news even showed her tumbling on the evening broadcast. Both sisters were thrilled to learn they made the team … and happily, so did Bruce.
Donna and Debbie knew being part of the 18-member squad was an honor of a lifetime, and their parents loved the opportunity to have four free seats on the second row of the 50-yard line at the Cotton Bowl. All the teens loved the experience of riding together to the games in a large Hearse that had been repainted and named the “Cowboys Spirit Wagon.” They would hang out of the windows shaking pompoms and cheering for their favorite team. These were some of the most exciting times of their lives as drivers passing by would happily honk and wave.
The next year, the Doss sisters were both honored to usher in the new era of the Cowboys. Cheerleaders. Only 10 ladies would be selected for the squad and both the uniform and choreography would be quite different than in years past. A season later the cheerleaders found themselves flying on a private jet to Miami for the Super Bowl where the Cowboys played the Colts.
The Doss sisters value these memories together and consider each opportunity to be a blessing. Those two years cheering together inspired them to follow big dreams, live with confidence and strive to be their best in life’s endeavors.
The O’Brien Sisters
Twins Carrie and Sherie grew up in Dallas where they experienced a treasured childhood. They cheered together in grade school and led their junior high school drill team as captains before then going on to shine at W.H. Adamson High School where Sherie was a cheerleader and Carrie was the captain of the drill team.
Sherie, who also cheered for the Cowboys while in high school, received a phone call from Director Dee Brock asking her to audition for the new squad of professional dancers that would be replacing the squad of high schoolers. Sherie then called Carrie, who had just finished her final semester as a Tyler Jr. College Apache Belle and suggested they audition.
Carrie admits she was a little “danced out” from the hardcore years of workouts in college, but was intrigued with the opportunity. She loved dancing and had already experienced the exhilarating excitement of performing at Super Bowl V in Miami as an Apache Belle, so she decided to go for it. Carrie was selected that first year while Sherie made the team soon after. While they didn’t cheer together, they share a treasure trove of memories from their combined years with the Cowboys.
Carrie muses that back in the early years of the DCC phenomenon, there was more camera time for the cheerleaders and that her grandmother told her she saw her on TV over 20 times in just one game. Carrie adds that back then, the cheerleaders would run over to the cameras to wave and blow kisses during pauses in the action, something she ponders might not be encouraged as much these days.
The O’Brien sisters were very supportive of each other and still are. Carrie describes Sherie as a really glamorous head-turner with an absolute heart of gold. Sherie says Carrie was the most beautiful cheerleader who exuded class and great leadership and was always very creative and giving.
They describe fondly their interactions with fans after games in the 1970s. There were hugs, autographs and the cheerleaders were often given roses, gifts, food and more. The fans loved the cheerleaders and the love was mutual.
Both beauties went on to get married and enjoy successful careers and happy families. Carrie worked for years in sales and marketing, owned bed and breakfasts, has travel extensively with her husband and is currently writing a book. Sherie retired from Neiman Marcus and has enjoyed a life of traveling with her husband as well. Both ladies look back on their time with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders with pride, and consider it an honor to have been part of the organization.
The Briggs Sisters
Ann and Benita Briggs grew up in Northeast Dallas and were always Cowboys fans. Four years apart in age, they didn’t grow up dancing together but did share similar journeys.
Both studied dance with Texie Waterman, who was the world famous choreographer of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Big sister Benita decided to audition since she loved dance and really enjoyed performing with her high school drill team.
Ann explains that having an older sister on the squad gave her insight into the organization and performances. As a teenager, she was excited to stay a little later in the evenings after her own dance classes to watch the DCC rehearse in studio.
Of course, with a big sister on the squad, the cheerleaders knew Ann and Benita could not wait to someday be teammates, and not long afterward, they indeed were. However, due to the limited size of the studio, half of the cheerleaders rehearsed on Mondays and Wednesdays while the other half worked out on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Briggs sisters were in different groups and saw very little of each other. Benita was taller than Ann, so they weren’t placed next to each other in dance formations, photos or on kick lines, either.
Their parents were excited when both sisters were on the squad; they had season tickets and even rode to the games together. Their mom was especially proud, as she had originally encouraged the girls to study dance.
Benita, who had a fun personality, still took her job seriously, respecting the rules and looking out for her younger sibling. And Ann, who was very enthusiastic, fun loving and professional, looked up to her older sister. They were both very supportive of one another.
The girls traveled with the team to Japan in 1978 and share a lot of special memories. One opportunity in particular on which both look back fondly was appearing on a telethon in Dallas in 1979 benefitting the United Cerebral Palsy organization. The Briggs sisters were working the same shift and were invited by the host Dennis James (a well-known TV game show host) to join him in performing a song by the Carpenters called “Sing.” They were thrilled.
Ann went on to excel in college and the dance industry where she met her husband, and they continue to dance and manage the cotillion company they own.
The Baker Sisters
While VonCeil cheered during, what we all know as, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders inaugural year of 1972-73, her sister Vanessa had cheered for the Cowboys previously as a high school cheerleader. But she soon joined VonCeil in the new squad’s second year.
For VonCeil, the DCC started to become known as America’s Sweethearts because fans loved that they would stay after the games and sign autographs and take pictures until the last ones had left. Both sisters also traveled the world on USO Tours, were a part of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders movies, and appeared on The Love Boat and many more television specials.
VonCeil and Vanessa Hold the record for longest tenured DCC at 8 years each. Vanessa fondly recounts the special memory of receiving her Master of Science degree on the Cowboys field during a 1977 matchup against the Broncos. The game had been scheduled at the same time as her graduation and she was determined not to miss cheering, so special permission was granted for her to receive her degree from Texas Women’s University on the field.
The Baker sisters’ legacy of dedication and love for the squad remains stronger than ever, and many cheerleaders who have graced the sidelines in the decades since the Baker sisters retired in the 1980s admit being authentically star-struck when meeting these inspiring sisters in person.
The Causey Sisters
Debbie and Candy didn’t cheer at the same time but share fond memories of their time with the squad. They grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and moved to Dallas when they were teenagers. Debbie recalls that her parents were the ones to originally encourage her to audition for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
Coming from a little Baptist school with cheerleading skirt hems below the knee, putting on the famous white uniform shorts was definitely “a shocker” but an absolutely amazing and memorable experience. And their parents were ecstatic to have two daughters cheer for the Cowboys, and they continue to display photos of them in uniform today.
Since they didn’t cheer during the same seasons, the Causeys didn’t actually perform on the field together until later at alumnae halftime opportunities. “Farewell to Texas Stadium” was an amazing, fun experience for the sisters to share.
Debbie went on to be a mother and enjoy a successful career in the fitness industry. She credits the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders organization with shaping her into the person she is today.
The Green Sisters
Kelli and Niki Green grew up in the Houston area and moved to Jacksonville, Texas, just before Kelli started high school. Two years apart in age, the talented girls twirled, danced, modeled and performed together their whole lives. They even cheered together in high school for the Jacksonville Indians. Kelli and Niki grew up watching their beloved Cowboys with their Papa, who taught them all about football.
Kelli explained that she had always dreamed of being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and was inspired by a cameo photo of DCC Melinda May that hung on the walls of the dance studio where they grew up dancing. Later, Kelli was encouraged to audition by another DCC, Kelly Drake Patterson, who happened to be Kelli’s sorority sister at TCU.
A cherished memory for Kelli was the Thanksgiving Game of her rookie year. Her entire family was able to attend, including her Papa, who was in his late 70s at the time. She recalls it was a “dream come true.”
Niki states she was blown away when she first saw Kelli and the DCC perform at a game and knew she wanted to be part of the organization as well. Soon enough, she joined her sister Kelli on the sidelines of Texas Stadium.
Niki moved to Valley Ranch and shared an apartment with Kelli, who was more than happy to work on dances with her sister and offer support during Niki’s rookie year. The sisters were thrilled to dance in the same group and both treasure the priceless memory of standing side by side as the Dallas Cowboys won a Super Bowl.
After cheering, Niki went on to marry former Cowboys punter Toby Gowin and cheered for him from the stands. She jokes that it’s fun to remind him that she went to the Super Bowl and he didn’t.
Both dynamic Green sisters went on to raise families in East Texas where they happily cheered on their own kids who have each enjoyed continued success in school and sports.
The Jagger Sisters
About two and a half years apart in age, my younger sister Libbie and I (Pamela) were really on similar journeys growing up. We were the daughters of an Air Force officer and our native Texan mom. Growing up as military daughters instilled a love of adventure, travel and patriotism.
As young girls we moved around the nation and were fortunate to have both trained very seriously in ballet. Dancing in Colorado, Virginia, Florida and then Texas where our family retired from the Air Force, we both continued our ballet training in Fort Worth. Then by invitation, as teenagers, we were selected to train in Seattle and New York City.
Graduating a year early from a small performing arts high school in Fort Worth, I spent the next two years continuing my ballet training in New York and Philadelphia before deciding to attend college and focus on writing.
Libbie took a pause from her ballet training to spend time as a “normal” high school girl, dancing with her drill team and soon with her college dance team. Soon she found herself back in the ballet studio, earning her BFA at TCU in the ballet department. We both continued dancing while attending college and found an opportunity to travel often to Europe with a Dallas-based dance team that performed at various international sporting events. We also both managed to teach dance during this busy time of studying and traveling.
It was during those travels to Europe that we heard the incredible stories about the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders from dancers in our group who were actually DCC alumnae. Wondering if I had what it took, I auditioned and was honored to be a rookie soaking in all the excitement for a year before Libbie soon made the team.
We were thrilled to be placed in the same sideline group and next to each other for the kick lines as well. Our parents never missed a game and loved sitting in the DCC Family section. It was a definitely social scene.
We were thrilled to be selected for the traveling Show Group together, too. Our parents and extended family were incredibly proud of us and were deeply supportive of our USO travels to the Middle East, Europe and Korea. As retired military, there was a deep appreciation for the opportunity to go thank our troops around the world and especially to go hug the necks of children living on military bases and posts far from home.
All those years training in ballet actually opened up special opportunities during our time as cheerleaders. We choreographed some special pieces for the USO Tours, and were featured on stage with celebrities during Thanksgiving halftimes and we taught technique classes for the Camp DCC kids. I even wore sparkling, crystaled pointe shoes during our USO Tours. The opportunity to experience these once in a lifetime moments with your own sister heightened the excitement twice as much.
We both loved the experience and enjoyed hilarious adventures. The jokes and comedy truly never stopped from beginning to end. Behind the scenes pranks and silliness made the hard work that much more fun and memorable.
Libbie cheered for one year, then got married and moved to New Jersey where she danced with their local NBA dance team. I cheered for a total of three years and then got married and continued working in dance and sports (even directing the Cowboys’ Arena Football dance team for five years). Soon we found ourselves living close to each other again just outside of Dallas, teaching dance and choreographing while raising our own children.
The Trevino Sisters
Born in the Rio Grande Valley, the radiant Trevino sisters moved to Bedford Texas early in their grade school years. Just 14 months apart, Tricia and Crystal grew up dancing together on a successful dance competition team, and as such, had opportunities over the years to perform with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders at special Holiday halftime show. The girls were both taken with the high energy, warmth and beauty of the DCC and were inspired to one day join the world famous organization themselves.
The road to the Cowboys included dancing together for their high school drill team and as members of the Dallas Mavericks’ dance team.
The Trevino sisters were blessed to make three USO Tours to Korea and travel on two calendar shoot trips together. A really unique honor was being named as the “GameDay Girl” during the same game.
Their parents were incredibly proud of their daughters’ accomplishments and were lucky to see both girls lined up next to each other in the kick lines, which definitely made getting pictures of their favorite cheerleaders a bit easier. The girls recall that their dad was so proud that he took pictures of his girls to work to show everyone. Their proud father was happy to mention that both girls were Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders to an unsuspecting waiter, giving the wait staff an unexpected thrill.
One particular memory Crystal and Tricia share was during a game when they both spotted their family in the stands and kept waving and smiling with the absolute giddiness of children seeing their parents in the audience of a school play. The joy was real and the memory is priceless.
And you can easily see the mutual admiration they hold for one another. Crystal describes Tricia as a natural leader who is kind, smart and easy to love, while Tricia says Crystal is an incredible listener with a huge heart who consistently makes helping others a priority.
Both sisters saw a lot of success while cheering for the Cowboys. Between them were calendar covers, point of the formation, a group leader position and Show Group. And the absolutely supported each other throughout their time together.
The Trevino sisters are now happily married mothers with accomplished careers who also find joy in spending time with extended family who live close by. Their sister bond as cheerleaders was that of support, protectiveness and pride, which allowed them to create once in a lifetime memories they will always treasure.
The Torres Sisters
The striking Torres beauties grew up in the Dallas suburb of Colleyville where they excelled on the same competitive dance teams and even performed on the high school drill team together. Winning the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders soloist competition, Ashton received an invitation straight to the semifinals part of DCC auditions and successfully made the squad.
Alyssa became interested in dancing with the DCC when she saw what a positive experience it was for Ashton. Her sister’s help through the audition process was invaluable. Alyssa still recalls the surreal thrill of stepping out on the field for the first time with her sister.
A favorite memory was when the entire family came to watch the Thanksgiving game in 2011. The Torres sisters’ parents were incredibly proud of their daughters, never missing a game and even dressing up their younger sisters in DCC uniforms for those Sunday trips to the stadium. Their proud mother made sure to film Ashton and Alyssa performing on the field, grateful that they were lined up next to each other for the kick lines.
Big sister Ashton describes Alyssa as loving and one who puts others ahead of herself, while Ashton takes on the protective older sister role today just like she did back in their cheering days when she would coach Alyssa through choreography, photo shoots and appearances. Alyssa admires Ashton’s work ethic and how seriously she took the honor of representing the DCC organization.
The Torres sisters remain fiercely loyal and supportive of one another just as they did in their cheering days. Today Alyssa works in orthopedic device sales while Ashton is married, a mother, and the owner of a successful fitness barre studio where she continues to set competition choreography.
So what’s the magic recipe for cheering with your sister? All the above duos share unwavering support for each other and proud families.
Of course, for those who don’t have a truly-related sister with whom to share the cheerleading experience, the DCC have you covered. You’ll arrive as friends and leave as family.
Pamela Jagger Purcel – 1997, ’98, ’99