What began two weeks ago with close to 500 women from all over the world in Arlington for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders preliminary and semifinal auditions culminated in the Finals Auditions on May 18 at the home of the five-time Super Bowl champions.
The action officially got under way when Mr. Phil Whitfield opened the Cowboys Stadium doors at 8 a.m. and welcomed the 86 ladies (54 from the auditions and 32 returning vets) inside the $1.2 billion football palace. The hours ahead would be a rollercoaster of emotions for many of the ladies who followed their dreams to become a member of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and were one last, agonizingly long step away from advancing to training camp.
The day began with the individual talent portion, which gave the competitors 90 seconds to impress the judges and could include singing, dancing or even dramatic interpretation. The ladies performed their solos to musical choices ranging from AC/DC's Back in Black to the Broadway classic Singin' in the Rain to multiple Britney Spears songs such as Stronger, Circus, Oops!...I Did It Again, Toxic and ...Baby One More Time.
Following a short break to change from the solo outfits into DCC audition attire, the candidates made their way down to the field to perform the dance routine they learned at call-backs and the signature DCC kickline. The judges' panel was seated in the stands directly under the owner's suite for a fan's perspective and a direct view of the massive 160-ft wide and 72-ft high HD video board.
Returning veteran Danielle Marie had to overcome a painful foot injury that occurred three weeks earlier during a practice session for her solo performance just to be able to walk into the stadium. As she battled through the pain to finish her second kickline, the returning vets were cheering her on as if she was about to cross the finish line of a marathon. As each group of five took their place on the Cowboys star at the 50-yard line, it became very apparent how close the group of returning veterans were as they rooted for one another like they were all apart of a big family.
"The whole football season is my favorite time of the year," Brittney Schram, who just finished her second season with the DCC, said. "Gameday is so amazing that I get goosebumps just thinking about it, and I can't really even put it into words. It's adrenaline mixed with emotion and a complete awe factor, and you are getting to experience it with some of your closest friends who become like your sisters."
The judges began deliberations shortly after 3 p.m. with the results expected to arrive between 6 and 7 p.m. In the meantime, the ladies, who couldn't leave the stadium, were awaiting word if their dreams were coming true or their hearts were going to be shattered.
Just after 9:15 p.m. the big announcement came. The CMT cameras, filming for the eighth season of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team , were rolling as DCC Director Kelli Finglass returned along with Judy Trammell and Charlotte Jones-Anderson.
"This has been the most talented group of finalists ever," Finglass said before announcing the names of the 47 ladies who would be advancing to the two-month long training camp.
When she called the final name, the veterans on stage dealt with the bittersweet emotions of celebrating their own success while having their family dynamic changed: three of the ladies who had re-auditioned from last season were not invited back to training camp. But 29 of the 32 returning veterans did advance, and will join 18 of the 54 rookies who survived the semifinals. Among those who will be in training camp are the winner of the DCC Fan Vote, Vivian and veterans Jackie Bob, Sydney Durso, Brittney Schram and Chelsea Elizabeth.
"Being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader has been better than I ever dreamed," Chelsea Elizabeth said, of her experience in her rookie season. "Game days and appearances are incredible, but there is something special about being able to make someone's day. When we visit people in the hospital or when we visited West (following the tragic explosion), I have been put in a position where I can make people happy and that is what I was born to do."
The ladies who make the final squad out of training camp will not only be at the 10 Cowboys home games, but are ambassadors for the organization all over the world from visiting U.S. troops overseas to corporate functions to swimsuit calendar photo shoots in exotic locales and, of course, waving at little girls in the crowd who dream of growing up and someday be a member of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
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