Written by Jay Betsill
Last summer's Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard introduced fans of America's Team to the "Tampa 2" defense under new coaches Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli. This summer's Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders training camp at Valley Ranch has its own version of the "Tampa 2" as former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders Courtney and Meagan advanced through the auditions at AT&T Stadium to be a part of the group of 43 ladies vying for the opportunity of a lifetime.
They both began their NFL cheerleading careers in Tampa Bay, but their paths to North Texas were a far cry from one another. While Courtney's move to Dallas involves paying tribute to a family member, Meagan's journey is the next chapter in a long-term plan that began with her moving to Tampa Bay to attend the University of South Florida and then graduating early in order to be relocated in time for the DCC auditions.
"My mom's side of the family is actually from here and it was always my grandmother's dream for me to be a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader," said Courtney. "The first year I made the Bucs cheerleaders was when she passed away, so this has been in the back of my mind for quite some time. It is certainly my way to honor her."
The two squads may both be in the NFL, but they are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to their audition processes. The Bucs auditions are a two-week process that involves learning multiple dances and doing a fitness evaluation before the results are posted online. Conversely, DCC has two weeks of auditions in May followed by a summer-long training camp that is chronicled on the CMT series, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team. There is not a set date for the announcement of the final DCC squad. It occurs only after director Kelli Finglass and choreographer Judy Trammell determine they have the best of the best.
"Training camp here with the DCC is much more intense than it was in Tampa," Meagan said. "After two weeks in Tampa, you have your poms, and then you would practice two to three nights a week knowing you were already on the team. Here, we go five nights a week, and I am seeing firsthand why this team has such great precision. They are both amazing experiences, just different."
As the North Texas summer begins to heat up, the intensity at the DCC training camp will be heightened to new levels as well. The rookie candidates are quickly adapting to the mental and physical demands that accompany the opportunity to be a DCC, while the veterans may actually be under more pressure because they have been on the sidelines at Cowboys home games and traveled on the USO tours and already know what is at stake and what they have to lose.
"Courtney was my best friend during my first year with the Bucs," said Meagan. "We met at 19 years old and now to be able to come here and share this opportunity with her and the possibility of having another rookie season with her would be really special. It's something you can't describe, and it would just be so cool to share that with my friend and do it for America's Team."