You've heard of children wanting to follow in their parents' footsteps, but for Victoria, from the time she was five years old and member of the Junior DCC, her goal was to wear a pair of her mother's white boots.
The daughter of a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, Victoria grew up in Coppell, Texas just a few miles from the DCC rehearsal studio. She took advantage of every opportunity to dance alongside the DCC, whether it was Junior DCC, DCC Dance Academy Camps, or Prep Classes. Her determination, and hard work paid off last year when she fulfilled her dream: wearing the star and the white boots as a DCC rookie for the 2019 season.
Victoria sat down with DCC.com to share the story of her journey as well as practical information for hopefuls who also dream of becoming a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
Q: When did you first join the Junior DCC?
Victoria: "The minimum age was six, but I slid in when I was five, so I snuck in a year early by accident. I also did the DCC camps up until I was 14. Junior DCC and the DCC Academy Camps are about so much more than learning dance routines, it's learning what DCC is all about: Dedication, Character, and Community. They teach about the impact the DCC makes around the community. They talk about the USO Tours their impact around the world.
I got to teach my first DCC Dance Academy camp this past year during winter break. Yes, it's a fun time to learn routines, but that's not what we spent the most time on. We talked about respect and honoring friendships, about the importance of character, and what it means to be part of the organization and the community.
As I taught the camp, I looked back to when I was a Junior DCC and latched onto the leaders of my group. I remember Cassie Trammell, I remember Sarah Idziak. I latched onto them and wanted to be near them and feed off their energy. I remember Sydney Durso and Mia Greenhouse and latching onto them because I was awed by them and wanted to do exactly what they did. Whether it was a one-day camp or a three-day camp or a week-long camp, I was always emulating them. I wanted to eat the same number of slices of pizza, matching perfectly whatever they did.
So, when I had the opportunity to teach my first camp, I knew the campers would want to know everything about us. I had been in their shoes just a few short years ago. And those girls wanted to share information with us, whether it was their favorite music or TV show. The girls are inspired by us, but really, they're the ones that serve as inspiration because we realize we can have a positive influence on them. They are the future of this organization and they're eager to learn from us."
Q: You've been close to the DCC since grade school and had more background information about the group than any other rookie entering the DCC. Yet you're never really sure about a group until you become an equal member. Was there anything that surprised you about the DCC once you became a full-fledged rookie?
Victoria: "What surprised me most was how close we really are. My mom always said, 'Oh, you're going to meet your best friends for a lifetime! You're going to have so much fun going on all these appearances!' And I'm like, 'Okay, going to a hospital visit as a DCC will be uplifting'. But you don't realize the true meaning until you're there. I imagined it would be one of the saddest moments, but it surprised me that it was such a positive effect. I thought we were there to smile and be the pretty face of the organization. But the reality is that when you arrive wearing the Cowboys' star, everyone brightens up.
Like one of our former DCC, Robin, always said, 'Wearing the DCC uniform is like putting on a superhero's cape'. Whether it's our full uniform or our DCC warmups, people recognize us and their focus goes from zero-to-100 immediately.
People told me about that effect, but you don't get it and you don't feel it until it happens to you on your first visit. I get a whole sensation. I might have impact them, but I guarantee you those people I've met on these visits have had a much bigger impact on me. I've gotten twice the amount back. I don't think people really understand that kind of impact until they make their first visit wearing the star."
Q: The fact that your mom, Tina, is a former DCC makes you a "legacy" and helped familiarize you with the organization, so that knowledge was helpful entering auditions. But is being a "legacy" an added pressure? It must feel daunting at times to follow in someone's footsteps.
Victoria: "Being a legacy and living here locally gave me an advantage because I was already familiar with the organization and had relationships within the organization. I don't think it's that they put more pressure on me, but I definitely put more pressure on myself. These are relationships I've had with people who have seen me group up and see the woman I've become today. I don't ever want to disappoint them. That's a pressure I put on myself. It will always be there. I'll never grow out of it.
Yes, being a legacy is pressure because this is a world-class organization, but we all feel that pressure because we want the best for ourselves and each other. We all, whether we're a legacy or not, understand that we have a high standard to uphold."
Q: In the months leading up to auditions, the DCC offer Prep Classes which are held once a week to help those who are planning to audition. Growing up here locally, how often were you able to take advantage of Prep Classes?
Victoria: "I went to every single one of them. I believe the minimum age was 16, but I snuck in when I was 15. I highly recommend Prep Classes. The classes are a great way to not only learn technique and choreography, but also to meet new people. Those people will become your friends that you go through this stressful journey from Day One. Getting to know the people you'll be surrounded by is important.
And it's really important to learn the DCC style of dance. It's not jazz. It's not hip hop. It's not directly pom. It's everything between all those dance genres. So, learning the DCC style and having time to hone-in and practice that style is very helpful. You also get to learn from former cheerleaders like Shelly Bramhall, KaShara, Lacey, and Jennifer Amburn. They are great teachers. And the assistants are current cheerleaders, so it's a great opportunity to see their style.
Kelli, our director, always says the DCC is a bouquet of flowers. Not one of us is similar. We're all 37 different flowers that come together in a bouquet. Going to prep classes help you blossom into the flower.
Q: For those DCC hopefuls who live out-of-town and cannot attend multiple Prep Classes or didn't grow up with the opportunity to join the Junior DCC or DCC camps, what are the best ways for them to learn the DCC style and prepare for auditions?
Victoria: "If you're out-of-state or someplace where you're unable to attend Prep Classes, the best way to prepare is to go to local dance classes including jazz and hip hop. More background in those genres will really help you with techniques we use for DCC. You'll need lots of power and energy for DCC style. And you'll need at least a double turn
Do your research by looking at DCC routines on YouTube or Instagram. Our Thunderstruck routing is all over YouTube and Instagram. Watch those videos and pick up the choreography as best you can. Dance in front of a mirror. Go to dance classes. And make sure you have punch and energy.
Q: You just wrapped up such a wonderful season and even made Show Group which is really difficult for a rookie. Any Cowboys fans watching you perform at such a high level would probably be shocked to know that you were cut from DCC Training Camp in 2018 and this past summer was your second go-round. As heartbreaking as it was to not make the squad in 2018, were there lessons that you learned from that process that helped you during 2019 Auditions and Training Camp?
Victoria: "Coming back to auditions in my second year, I learned that I needed to play to my strengths. And I learned not to get inside my head. You have to listen to yourself and know what you do best. There are so many girls and you're going to feel so overwhelmed. You have to know your three best things, whether it's your dancing and your hair and your fitness, whatever your strengths. There's always going to be someone skinnier than you. There's going to be someone fitter you. There's going to be someone taller than you, someone who can turn better than you. But you have to remember there are 37 flowers on this team and judges are not looking for one and the same. When it comes down to those last picks, it's hard not to compare yourself to others. But that's what you cannot do. You have to be true to yourself and play to your strengths."