Written by Kaitlin Ilseng
As I'm writing this now, it's incredibly hard for me to get my thoughts, let alone my sentences, sorted out. I look back on the past four years and I feel like I'm not old or wise enough to have that amount of time in my rearview mirror. But as I am closing this chapter, I am ecstatic about beginning a new one with my future husband, Jeff, in just a few months.
To my Jeffrey: I have known you since I was 16 years old. You have been my rock, my shoulder to cry on, my best friend and the most amazing man I have ever met. Thank you for your support, your love and your ability to pick out what kind of fake eyelashes I needed. I fall more and more in love with you with each passing day. I still cannot believe you picked me.
To my family: Thank you, thank you, thank you! Because of you, I am the person I am today. Your unending love and support, is what carried me through this journey.
To the Rookies: You have been an incredible group of women. Ever since training camp, I fell in love with each of you and I feel like a proud momma looking at you now. I love and admire every single one of you. Keep your head high with positive thoughts and love in your hearts. You all are going to make amazing veterans.
To the Veterans: Can you believe it?! All this time, and look at us now … so grown up! I am going to keep this very brief because I am trying to fight back the tears. I love each and every one of you for exactly who you are. You all have taught me a valuable life lesson, whether you know it or not. I am so thankful for the support, grace and love you have shown me. Thank you for being the sensational women you are, day in and day out.
To Katelyn, Cheryl and Dan: I seriously don't know how you guys do it! You are the epitome of superheroes. You are what I strive to be as an adult and a friend. Thank you for the countless selfless acts of love you have done for me. Your sacrifices never went unnoticed or unappreciated. You all are held very dear in my heart.
To Kelli and Judy: I have to say, I am ALWAYS at a loss for words when it come to you both. Thank you for taking a chance on me the past four years. You have given me the incredible gift of being a part of this legacy, and for that I am forever in your debt. Thank you again!
I can say that I never felt "worthy" enough to be one of America's Sweethearts. They still are this mirage to me, an unattainable dream that I've always had. And I know I'll even feel that same way when I tell my children about a time when their mom used to have the best job she could've ever asked for. Each game, each appearance, each calendar shoot, each practice, I soaked in every moment, thanking God for bestowing me this amazing blessing.
One thing I can say, beyond a shadow of doubt or regret, is it didn't matter what anyone's role on this squad was. Rookies looked up to Veterans and the Veteran's adored and loved their Rookies. We all walk out of this organization with a common brand on our hearts: We were a part of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders legacy. And it doesn't matter if a girl only did this for one year or eight years, we all have our band of gold and friendship that cannot be taken away from us.
As I journey away from this incredible organization, I walk a little taller, not exactly with more confidence but with better knowledge of who I am and what is important to me in this life. I know the boundaries and the heights I can overcome through my Lord Jesus. I take with me some precious memories of laughter, tears, sweat and hair-teasing lessons.
Each woman that I have had the honor to cheer with will always hold a very special place in my heart. To the admirable woman who have come before me and will come after me, I salute you.