Written by Kelsi Reich
It's hard for me to grasp the fact that I am writing my farewell to the DCC and the Cowboys organization. Where do I even begin? I guess I will just start from the beginning and recap my favorite, unforgettable memories …
It all started at the age of 17 at my nationals dance competition. I competed in the solo division and had no idea that one of my judges was a former DCC and recruiter, Shelly McCaslin. She approached me after the awards ceremony and asked if I would be interested in auditioning to be a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. At this moment, I had not even thought about it; never in my right mind did I think I could make it, especially at such a young age.
She eventually asked my age and after I said 17, she said I would need to wait a year and she would evaluate me once I was 18. In her hands was a "by-pass." This packet consisted of papers for auditions and allowed me to skip the first preliminary round. As my senior year rolled around, I had been preparing for auditions by studying up on all the history of the entire organization. My goal was to show Shelly that I had what it took and I wanted it more than anything.
Thankfully, she still believed in me a year later and offered me a "by-pass" again. I felt God had put her right in my path for a reason, and that was to open the door to my DCC career. I would have never had the confidence to try out if it weren't for her being my DCC mentor.
I'll never forget my rookie year of training camp and the feeling of intimidation. I felt like a baby, being 18 years old right out of high school with all of these beautiful and talented women. A few instances I will never forget were when my older teammates/friends took me under their wing to make me feel welcome.
My first encounter with Brooke Sorenson Nix was so random and funny. I always admired her and now she is a best friend for life! I happened to be standing next to her in practice one night and my first words were, "Don't you think it's weird seeing a life-size photo of yourself on the wall?" From then on out, there has never been a dull moment between us. Jordan Chanley and Brittany Evans made a lasting impression on me my rookie summer as well. They were such sweethearts to invite me to lunch when I first moved up here and we instantly clicked. These two best friends have been like sisters to me, inspired me in my faith, and they will forever be in my heart. Trisha Trevino, Crystal Trevino Cavender, Michelle Keys and Mia Greenhouse also made me laugh until my stomach would hurt and I couldn't breathe. We have had the goofiest times together that I wouldn't trade anything in the world for. I could go on with every girl, but those were just a couple examples of how friendships start with the DCC, but continue on for a lifetime.
Next I want to share with you my favorite game-day memories. I'll start off by saying game days are my favorite part of being a cheerleader! Not only is the intensity of the game outrageous, but the memories made in the locker room before show time are unforgettable. I'll never forget all the times we played "Ice Cream Paint Job" or chanted "We Ready" in a circle to get us hyped up. I'll never forget all the amazing meals we shared in a full circle of 34-plus women that put us all into food-comas before we had to dance for three hours straight. I'll never forget the crowded Texas Stadium dressing room compared to our glamorous Cowboys Stadium palace. I'll never forget our team prayer and Sunday morning devotionals. Most of all, I'll never forget the best friends that I got to share this all with.
I have four games in particular that I consider my most memorable, all for different reasons. First, was my last game in Texas Stadium. The thing I remember most about that evening was the frostbite I felt during the farewell ceremony. We stood out there for hours during all of the speeches; once it was time to move and walk off the field, my feet were frozen. We literally felt pain from how cold it was. I look back now at that memory and just laugh because there will never be weather issues in our new facility.
Speaking of the larger than life structure, my second most memorable game was the inaugural evening at Cowboys Stadium. It was beyond amazing being a part of history, the DCC providing the first performance on the field's iconic star. I will never forget the adrenaline rush I felt that night. As I entered the field from the tunnel, I looked up to soak in the 100,000 people watching our every move. It literally took my breath away!
My third most memorable game was this past season, Buffalo Bills at Dallas. If some of you might recall, my boyfriend gave me the game ball he scored a touchdown with. Only problem was he played for the opposing team. I'll never forget that special day because together, we had 83 relatives present being both from Texas. I had no idea what he was planning if he had scored but when it happened, I was completely surprised and filled with joy! We both felt incredibly blessed to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Think about the odds of me cheering for the Cowboys, him playing for the Bills, the two teams playing each other, it happened to be at home where I only cheer home games, and where all of our relatives live. For all of that to happen was a God thing, a one-in-a-million chance. I felt bad that it blew up in the media because neither one of us planned on that. It was meant to be a special moment between the two of us and our families, but I guess it made for an interesting story on national television. I still have the ball and will forever cherish it!
Last but not least, my fourth most memorable game was my final game as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. This is hard for me to talk about because I still tear up thinking about it. It was our Christmas Eve game and I was very emotional. I teared up in the tunnel, I teared up while dancing on the field, and I teared up being the last one to walk off into the locker room. The hardest part was watching my mom in the stands cry. She has enjoyed my journey just as much as I have and it was hard for my proud mama to keep it together. I would do anything to relive that last game!
Next, I would like to reminisce on my spectacular Show Group memories. I am so thankful to have been on the traveling group since my rookie year. Of course, all the girls on the team are extremely close, but something about Show Group allows us 12 to create a very special and rare bond. We spend the most time together with all the extra rehearsals, shows around the country, and tours around the world. We experience each other at our best and worst, but have a love and respect that can be found nowhere else.
Just to recap in the shortest way possible, I am going to list my favorite shows that stick out in my mind the most: Minor league baseball games, ice hockey games (literally danced on ice), Red Bull X Fighters Motocross (danced on a huge mound of dirt that the athletes jumped over), Tim McGraw Super Bowl kickoff ceremony, Super Bowl XLV (danced pregame outside), NBA All-Star Game, the Today Show, Dr. Phil, the Oprah Show at the Texas State Fair, one trip to China, two trips to the Bahamas, two trips to Japan, and four times to South Korea.
Going on four USO tours has touched my life in the most patriotic way possible. Visiting the troops around the world put our rat-race lifestyle into perspective. They are literally risking their lives for us when they have families and loved ones wanting them home more than anything. We visit them to bring a piece of home and happiness, but we leave feeling more impacted than before. I love what the USO stands for and I will forever support our military because of my opportunities with this organization!
Once again, the best part of all of these amazing memories is being able to share them with my best friends. Many times we would be waiting in our dressing rooms, backstage or in airports for hours so we found ways to entertain ourselves. We always played games, laughed constantly and took a million pictures (mostly goofy ones).
My passion for DCC goes far beyond just performing at games and interesting places around the world. One of the best parts of this organization is putting smiles on faces on a daily basis. Whether it's at an appearance in Walmart or at a private event, we are changing the world one smile at a time. I've said that from the beginning, and it has only been proven more and more true over the past four years.
My favorite event of all time is the annual children's hospital visit during the Christmas season. The warmth in my heart after seeing the precious kids is something that I will take with me for the rest of my life. It's very hard to see innocent little ones stuck in a hospital during the best time of the year, but the smile we can put on their faces is the best feeling in the world. A smile tells a story. A story of hope, courage and happiness. When I provide that for someone, I know my job is done.
Lastly, I want to thank the wonderful DCC staff who have allowed me these unforgettable opportunities and memories:
Charlotte Jones Anderson, you have inspired me more than you can imagine. I have always looked up to your poise, class and wisdom. The times we have spoken, you have taught me life lessons and characteristics that I will carry with me through my future endeavors. Thank you for all of the wonderful experiences and many doors you opened for me. I hope to follow in your footsteps someday!
Kelli Finglass, thank you for believing in me. I was terrified auditioning as an 18-year-old, but your bright smile always put me at ease during the stressful nights of training camp. Your work ethic is incomparable and I respect your dedication to the organization. You have helped make many dreams come true, including mine, and I am forever grateful!
Judy Trammell, it is evident that you seek the best in everyone! I love how you have given everyone an opportunity to shine and let their best come out through performing. Thank you for seeing something in me and trusting me to have what it takes to be a DCC.
Dan, you have become like an uncle to the team and I cannot thank you enough for all you have done. I know a lot more goes on behind the scenes that we do not see, but your persistence to keep the standards high is contagious. All of our trips around the world together have been a huge blessing in my life. Thank you for always taking care of us!
Katelyn and Cheryl, I've watched you both work so hard to the point you could barely walk, but I can't even begin to express how much I appreciate what both of you have done. It takes a lot to keep this organization on top, but it would not be possible without either of you. The office side is what allows us to keep everything together: traveling the world, sharing happiness with the fans, and converting the others. Keep up the amazing work!
To the remaining staff, thank you for motivating me, encouraging me, and inspiring me to be the best DCC that I could possibly be. All of your hard work is greatly appreciated. It's amazing what everyone brings to the table and without any of you, we would not be complete!
I could not have had a better experience and I could not ask for anything more. I'm still praising the Lord for blessing me with the greatest opportunity of my life so far! From the beginning, I knew God placed me on this team for a purpose, but it took me a couple of months to realize why I was there … for His purpose. Anytime I was uncertain or stressed, I sought Him and reminded myself of my favorite verse, Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths straight." This kept me strong and helped me encourage my teammates to do the same.
I loved making my friends smile and using my platform to share His love with those surrounding me. We always said "let your light shine" and strived to be the light in the darkness so others could see that Jesus lives in us. He blessed me beyond anything I can imagine and it still amazes me how good and faithful He is. As sad as I am to be retiring, I am comforted that God's plan for my future will be incredible. He has a perfect plan set up for me ahead, and I am excited to see what is next!
Since I just graduated in December with a marketing degree, I hope to pursue sports marketing or sports broadcasting. I'm not 100 percent where I will be in the next year, but that is the beauty of having faith in the one who created the path for my life before I was even born. I was just recently asked to be a DCC All-Star, so I am excited to keep my uniform for a little bit longer. I'm not ready to part ways with my stars and boots quite yet!
My last and final words are from what my lovely teammates and I ALWAYS said … PTL!!!! (Praise the Lord!)