DCC Alumni Spotlight – Cheri’ Motes Urie
I had the honor of speaking with Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader alum, Cheri’ Motes Urie. Cheri’ currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee where she owns and operates a dance studio. Her life has always revolved around dancing and singing. She’s been in a dance studio since she was 3 years old and grew up in musical theatre. She was talented beyond her years and, at 15, was the youngest singer/performer at Six Flags Over Texas where she performed six shows a day, six days a week. That certainly helped prepare her for her next journey – working to become a DCC.
Cheri’ was never a cheerleader, but at the suggestion of a fellow Six Flags performer, she set out to audition for The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in 1987 when she was just 18.
Auditioning was “…a lot!” for a young dancer. There were hundreds of girls there. “I was young and naïve, and I really didn’t understand what I was getting myself into. I became the youngest on the squad, and being that young I didn’t fully grasp just how BIG it was. I knew it was big… but it wasn’t until later in life when I said, ‘Wow! I did that!!’. That was an incredible experience!”.
“I decided to sing for my solo talent during auditions. Kelli McGonagill Finglass was also auditioning as a veteran and was singing as well! And guess what? We ended up wearing the same exact blue dress! I remember she sang ‘Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue’”.
Cheri’ cheered during the 87-88 season and said, “Kelli was my group leader and she ran a tight ship! I think she was born to be the director of DCC. She had big boots to fill, following Suzanne, and she does an incredible job.”
Cheri’ cheered under director Suzanne Mitchell describing her as tough but incredibly caring. Cheri’ reminisced that “Suzanne could be scary but loved us as if we were her children.” Cheri’ described Suzanne as someone with high standards and said she was always pushing people outside of their comfort zone. “I was one of the singers on the squad and Suzanne had asked me to bring a cassette tape (yes times have really changed since then!) with two song choices for her to chose from – for me to sing at a show. I was hoping she would pick the one I was more comfortable with. I thought ‘New York, New York’ was a little out of my range. Of course, she chose ‘New York, New York’!” Suzanne’s motto was ‘If I say you can do it, then you can.’”
Cheri’ believes it takes a special person to be able to become a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. “Some people may think it’s only about dancing, but it is a lot more than that and more than what most understand. Dancing on the field is just a small part of it. You must be well spoken and be able to conduct yourself on nursing home visits, hospital visits, and USO tours.”
Cheri’ said she was naïve and young but grew up on that team and learned a lot of valuable life lessons. “People make fun of me for always wearing makeup and for never just rolling out of bed. It is instilled in me! I only cheered for a season but the tradition of always having hair fixed and makeup done has stuck with me years later!”
Cheri’ and I had great fun talking about how much has changed and evolved and which traditions have stayed the same. “The poms! We had huge poms! They were like arm weights. Those “tiny” poms you girls have now would’ve been great!” she said. Back then, the girls wore go-go boots and were always afraid their heel would break off while dancing. It might be fun to try some big 80s-style poms, but I’ll keep our flat and comfortable Lucchese boots please!
Just like today the cheerleaders were required to have full time employment or be enrolled in college. That legacy of hard working and driven women continues. Makeovers were also a part of joining the team then and, “Suzanne decided to make me a redhead. I loved it and I never went back”. (I’m not a real redhead either! And I don’t plan on going back to blonde after DCC. Something funny we have in common.)
I really enjoyed all of Cheri’s stories as we talked for nearly two hours! Her parting words were some great advice to pass along to those that are planning on auditioning for DCC: “The audition experience alone is worth it. You grow so much in that process alone. Regardless if you make it or not, it makes you stronger on the other end.“
Her advice to me, and other current squad members, is to take in the whole experience. “When you’re in it, you don’t fully appreciate it and aren’t able to absolutely absorb the incredible experience. Take those memories and document your journey. You all have so much technology these days to memorialize all the great moments. It all goes by so fast!”.