DCC Alumni Spotlight – Laurie Harris
True Texas girl, Laurie Harris, was born and raised in Dallas. As a young girl she was involved in tumbling and gymnastics, and learned her work ethic and dedication as a competitive gymnast on both the regional and national level. She spent two years as a cheerleader for the Dallas Tornados professional soccer team honing her cheerleading skills. Her senior year at Highland Park High School in 1968, Laurie “ran for cheerleader” and was selected for the squad. She swore it was because she was a great tumbler, but I’m confident that her adorable smile and spirit made her a shoo-in for the team.
In the late 1960’s, the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad was made up of high school cheerleaders in their senior year – 9 girls and 9 boys. Talented hopefuls from all over Dallas/Ft. Worth area traveled to Dallas for tryouts in the Highland Park gym, trying their best to impress Dee Brock. “The skills required were much different back then” Laurie explained. Their role on the field was more traditional cheerleading. Less tumbling and stunting, more jumping and leading cheers to excite the crowd. Laurie Harris was selected as one of the 9 lucky girls to cheer the Cowboys onto victory in the 1968 season.
Laurie explained how her tumbling talents helped earn her a spot on the squad. “There were three girls and one boy who could tumble” she said. Her role on the team involved tumbling out of the player entrance tunnel to lead the players onto the field before the game. “We didn’t use pom poms” Laurie mentioned, as she needed both hands free to tumble down the 50-yard line. She painted a perfect picture of the uniform they wore. “A white button-down Oxford cloth shirt, and a pleated blue and white skirt – mid-thigh”. Laurie explained that the squad had practice on Saturday mornings and games on Sundays. There were no weigh ins or physical restrictions in her day – she kindly commended the current generation of cheerleaders who work so hard to fit the contemporary cheerleader mold.
I asked Laurie about the most memorable part of being a cheerleader, to which she so gracefully answered “The honor of being a cheerleader was amazing”. When I asked about a favorite game day memory, she told a story about a specific memory she had about one game at the Cotton Bowl, the day was “so, so, so cold; FREEZING”. Each home game, the cheerleaders received two tickets to the game and a complimentary lunch or dinner at the Cowboy Club. Laurie told me that she had recently gone through her scrapbook box and found a card from a fourth grader, wishing her to “Get Well” when she had sprained her ankle during the season. She felt so special and loved. She then explained how the high school boys all started talking to her once she became a cheerleader, asking her to set them up with her cheerleader friends. I told her that even 50 years later that is still the case!