DCC Alumni Spotlight – Karen McCaghren
Karen McCaghren was a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader for two fantastic seasons. Karen auditioned right out of high school at the age of 18 for her first season in 1985. She got married during her rookie season and was pregnant at the time to audition for her second year. Karen stepped back, but only three months after having her first son, she re-auditioned and returned for her second season in 1987. During Karen’s second season, she had the opportunity to travel on ships in the Indian Ocean and Japan, on a USO tour. Karen shared that USO was her most cherished memory from being a cheerleader and ultimately changed her life. Karen told me a story about Suzanne coming backstage during their performance for the solders, to say that the Captain wanted to talk to her after the show. The Captain said he got word that she was missing her son’s first Christmas and first birthday, and he was honored that she gave up that time to spend the holidays with the troops. At this moment, she truly learned the meaning of the flag and what it stood for. From then on at games, Karen said she cries when she hears the National Anthem.
Karen cheered with Kelli McGonagill Finglass, and Judy Trammell became the Assistant Choreographer during her rookie season. She shared many stories about Kelli while they cheered together. Back in the day, there was a competition about who had the biggest hair flip in the “Michael Jackson” move, and Kelli always won. As a leader, Kelli would make them hold weights with their poms at practice! Karen said she is so jealous of the poms we have today. Karen also shared all her favorite things about being a cheerleader, and then about being an alumnus. Her favorite traditions as a cheerleader were the sleepover held at Suzanne’s house the night you made the team and our pinky rings. Now being an alumnus, she loves any gathering that brings the sisterhood together. I got goosebumps hearing her talk about how close she is to all her rookie sisters, and how much fun they still have 30 years later. Karen wore the original uniform: go-go boots, the shorts before the dip, silver buttons on the sleeves, and big poms; they didn’t have the rhinestones around the stars and the fringe.
We talked about our biggest challenges of being a cheerleader and how to overcome them. It was so special how much we had in common, and I loved getting the chance to meet Karen. She gave me an excellent piece of advice that I’m excited to start this next season, and that was to journal everything. She said, “you don’t want to have to rely on pictures to remind you of your memories, be fully present in each moment, and soak it in. Then take the time to reflect on the amazing experiences you have been given”. Karen and I spoke for hours, and we became friends by the end of our conversation. We have a brunch set soon, and I can’t wait to develop a strong bond with her!
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