DCC Alumni Spotlight – Jill Vandygriff Tidwell
Growing up in a small town about an hour north of Dallas, being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader was something Jill had always dreamed about doing. That dream didn’t seem achievable until her sophomore year of high school when a girl from her very own hometown made the squad. She followed her journey for the next two years and did her research on how the audition process worked. The day after Jill’s senior prom, at age 18, she tried out to become a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.
Jill went through what is considered the traditional audition process, three rounds of auditions followed by a summer long training camp. She remembers showing up on the first day of auditions, receiving her number, and then walking onto the dance floor to freestyle for the judges. She was invited back to the second round, then finals, and finally training camp. One big difference about Jill’s experience compared to many others was that the interview process was a one-on-one meeting with Kelli Finglass. She recalls the nerves that she had before going in and speaking with the director face to face for the first time.
Jill had a background in cheer and gymnastics, but wasn’t a seasoned dancer like many of the other girls in training camp. She mentioned that her first double turn she ever tried was at her DCC audition. However, she did not let any of that stop her. Still a senior in high school when training camp started, she went to school during the day and then drove to Valley Ranch to attend camp in the evenings. It was the first time she felt she was challenged in this type of way, but her positive mindset and hardworking character carried her through. She made the squad that summer and still remembers the feeling of relief when she saw her cameo and the squad photo.
Coming off of a Super Bowl win the year prior, Jill had the opportunity to have many memorable experiences with the Dallas Cowboys organization. One of those was traveling to Mexico with her teammates for an exhibition game before the regular season kicked off.
Jill cheered for two seasons, from 1996 to 1998, with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders before deciding to focus on her education. She continued her studies at the University of North Texas where she majored in broadcast journalism once completing her time as a DCC.
Now part of the alumni program, Jill reflects on her time as a DCC as being one of the best things that she has been a part of. Not only was she thankful to be a part of the team, she made some amazing friends throughout her years. She will never forget the feeling she had when she was in the tunnel at Texas Stadium before going out to perform in front of the crowd for the first time. She is also very proud to be an alum and loves to cheer on all of the current Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
Jill’s biggest piece of advice for women who are or aspire to be Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders is to have confidence in yourself, your uniqueness, and the way God made you. Now a wife, mother of two beautiful boys, and a real estate agent, she resides in Nashville where she continues to be a representation of what the organization stands for. “I put on my pinky ring and I remember if I can make it through DCC, I can make it through anything.”
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