DCC Alumni Spotlight – Nan Stutts Baker
I had the privilege of interviewing Nan Stutts Baker, who served as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader from 1988-1989. After her time cheering, she became a practicing physical therapist. She is originally from Dallas, Texas and now resides in Rockwall, Texas with her husband. She has two children, a son who recently graduated high school and will be attending the University of Arkansas and a daughter who is a junior at the University of Arkansas. At this time, she is focusing on crossing off ‘bucket list’ items, remaining active, traveling, skydiving, hiking, and pursuing new challenges. She loves anything exciting and fun and still actively follows the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders alumni association.
Nan trained and danced at Texie Waterman’s studio and Ann Briggs, who was a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader in the 1970s, was her main mentor and dance teacher. The idea of auditioning for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders always crossed her mind during high school. Nan attended Abilene Christian University after high school and received a Master’s degree in Dietetics. She also cheered during her college career. She decided to audition her junior year of college while talking to other young ladies who were also teaching with the National Cheer Association during the summer. They were discussing the Dallas Cowboys and if anyone was auditioning for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. When she returned for her senior year, Judy Trammell taught a jazz technique class in Dallas; therefore, Nan would travel three and a half hours back and forth between Dallas and Abilene to take the jazz technique class in addition to her college studies and cheering. She would not have tried out if she had not taken this class. Her recital piece at the end of the year for the jazz technique class was to the song “Baby I’m a Star” by Prince.
Auditions were completely held at Valley Ranch rather than Texas Stadium in 1988. Preliminaries lasted an entire weekend, and semifinals were held a few weeks later. Nan was most nervous about interviews, which were held during the finals round. Kidd Kraddick, a Dallas radio personality at the time, was actually present at interviews. There were approximately 100 young ladies fighting for a spot in training camp during the finals. Nan was honored to serve her rookie season as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader that year. There were 23 rookies and 9 veterans. She was a member of Show Group that year, and Kelli McGonagill Finglass was her group leader. This was also the last year Roger Staubach played for the Dallas Cowboys. During her year with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, she worked as a full-time physical therapist aide and a lifeguard.
She absolutely loved everything about the uniform. The stars in her eyes were classic along with the blouse. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders wore go-go boots, and when the Cowboys would score during games, some of the young ladies would tumble in those go-go boots. At Texas Stadium, the team did not have locker rooms. Instead, they would use storage room space to prepare before games, which had approximately 3 outlets, no mirrors, and 2-3 bathroom stalls. Her favorite part of gameday would be the team prayer and walking down the long tunnel as a team before their pregame routine.
Her favorite tradition with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders would be ‘Meet the Team’. It was the team’s first dress rehearsal where alumni, parents, friends, and family would witness the first official team performance, and in that moment, you can “finally exhale.” She felt like she worked incredibly hard during training camp to earn her spot, and she shared that hard work with those who are near and dear to her heart. She felt hopeful in that moment, thinking many memories would be made and shared with her teammates and sisters. The anticipation was exciting. Her new favorite tradition is Christmas at The Star!
She was a member of Show Group, which required frequent travel and tours that were organized and established at the beginning of the year. Her fondest memory occurred with Show Group while traveling to Seattle. This was her first out of town appearance representing the Cowboys, and she remembers her teammates dressing up in 1980s taffeta prom dresses with lace, big bows, and updos. What she misses most about cheering with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders would be the challenge of learning multiple routines. The choreography, frequency, and speed of the routines would always be different, but the kickline always remained the same. Being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader impacted her life and future in many ways, such as meeting her husband who was introduced to her by Kelli McGonagill Finglass. She is eternally grateful for the memories, experiences, and people she met and worked with during her journey as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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