In a celebration of Father's Day this month, we bring you the first of a two-part series where we asked a few of our Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, as well as their dads, about their journey to becoming one of America's Sweethearts.
This is the month when we'll take the time to honor the old man, pops, papa, father, ATM machine or, of course, daddy. Wanting to show a little love to those dedicated few who sat through countless hours of dance rehearsals and cheer competitions, we posed questions to several of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and the men who helped raise them. In the first of two parts, meet Lauren and Terry, Chelsea and Greg, Holly and John, Jacie and Charles and Jordan and Charles.
Happy Father's Day!
What do you remember about your relationship growing up as a dancer?
Lauren: Unlike most dads, mine had a slight history with dance. My mom was a dancer and a Kilgore College Rangerette, and my dad was a Rangerette manager. The thing about the Rangerette managers is they don't just carry stuff and get bossed around. My dad performed, and took to bossing the girls instead. This, of course, easily transferred to bossing me.
When it came time for competitions, my dad would insist on attending my solo rehearsals. I was never practicing enough, not kicking high enough, not working hard enough, but I knew it was because he loved me and put my success before his own. My parents' unconditional love and support is the only reason I'm still a dancer today. The business is tough, and failure is always around the corner, but with them on my side, I've continued to stand and keep my passion alive.
Terry: It was a big deal. Lauren's mother is a former Kilgore Rangerette and was the drill team director at Austin High School in Austin while Lauren was growing up. One of her godmothers was a former Kilgore Rangerette as well and the drill team director at J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson, and another godmother was a former member of the University of Texas Band and the drill team director at Bowie High School in Austin. Oh, and I was a former manager of the Kilgore Rangerettes. So yes, it was a big deal.
And there was never a doubt. As her dad, I did my best – ultimately to no avail – to overcome her mother and two godmothers and try to make a basketball player out of her. I knew it was all over when while in the middle of a 31-0 ninth grade basketball season she was spending her time between games at a tournament practicing her audition solo for the high school drill team tryouts. She couldn't do both and I had lost.
Chelsea: My dad is the No. 1 cheer dad. He is a 6-6 man in the military who would wear the matching polka-dotted "Cheer Mom" shirts to my high school football games, except his proudly said "Cheer Dad!" He would yell all of our chants back at us, and would make sure everyone knew that, while he is a football fan, he was there to support the cheerleaders. He does the same thing at Cowboys games now. He's a huge Cowboys fan, but he's a bigger DCC fan!
Greg: Chelsea was always dancing, even in situations the average person wouldn't think to dance. She enjoyed cheerleading, but was passionate about dance; because it was a big deal to her, it was a big deal to me. Her mother and I put our full support behind her passion, which was easier said than done living in a small town.
Holly: My dad has always been one of my biggest fans, on and off the stage. As a dad to four girls, he really had to step into some new arenas, and one of them was the world of dance. He often took me to dance classes and was even brave enough to take me to my all-day dance competitions. In high school, before I could drive, he drove me to my 7 a.m. drill team practice every morning. For the drill team spring show my senior year, we danced together in the father/daughter dance. He basically thinks he taught me everything I know!
John: I remember a thousand screaming girls at competitions and spending entire days inside a convention center. I remember rounding up dance costumes, eating at the concessions stands, and it seeming like they had prepared all year for a five-minute dance routine. I remember the day when everything clicked for her – the lights came on and her abilities became evident – and I knew this would be her lifelong passionate pursuit. It was a huge deal because I could see the joy on her face when she danced. I knew she was in her element, that she was born to do it.
Jacie: My dad was very supportive of my dance career growing up. Before I had a car, he brought me to my rehearsals. He was at every recital. He was at those competitions that happened to fall on the same day as the big games, and he didn't complain about it. Those were the moments I appreciated, especially knowing how busy he was (and how important those games were).
Charles: I remember the excitement that she had, the frustrations she felt, but the "never quit" in her. When she was younger, I never thought it was a big deal because I always thought she would move on to something else. I thought it was just a fun thing for her at the time. But as she continued to hang with it, I realized it was something she had a passion for.
Jordan: My dad has always been so supportive of my passion for dance. I have been dancing since I was 2 and that means hundreds of performances, dozens of long dance recitals, and lots of TCU football games. And, he never missed one. He's probably just thankful he only has one daughter!
Charles: I recall it always being a family affair. My wife Elizabeth, myself and Jordan's three brothers, Chase, Alex and Nick, had a really good time following her dance career. We were always impressed with not only the physical discipline that was needed to compete at the national level, but also the enormous time commitment that was required to be the best. Did it seem like that big a deal? For sure! It was impressive to see all those national award scholarships and trophies pile up. Winning multiple national dance competitions in places like New York City, Las Vegas, Orlando and Dallas was a lot of fun for everyone.
What was the conversation like when you talked about trying out for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders?
Lauren: I was living in Oklahoma City at the time, and was ready for a change. We had just attended my first Cowboys game and clearly I was smitten by the organization. When it came time to discuss my decision to audition, it was as if we had already had the conversation. He immediately jumped on the idea and encouraged me to reach out to dance instructor Kitty Carter and get the ball rolling.
Terry: My friend offered us his tickets to a Cowboys game in December 2009. As we're watching from the 400 Level, Lauren asked to borrow my binoculars. I notice that she's not watching the game. After about a quarter she says, "I think I can do that." She's living in Oklahoma City at the time, working as the assistant pom coach at Oklahoma City University. My thoughts were, if we want to do this, then let's find out what we need to do to make it happen. Lauren moved to Dallas, one of her friends from Texas Pom tells her about Miss Kitty. We meet Miss Kitty and start working with her. She also started attending prep classes at Valley Ranch and we hired a trainer.
Chelsea: I am the most fortunate person in the world because I sat my parents down in the middle of the school year. I told them I wanted to leave college and move to Dallas to try out for the DCC. My dad said, "OK, we'll do whatever we can to help." There was no second-guessing. No disbelief. He knew I could do this, so he supported me 100 percent.
Greg: My thoughts were, "Go for it!" Even though I had heard it is statistically impossible to become a DCC, I knew she would always regret not pursuing her dream. Once she set her mind to it, we just supported and encouraged her. She did everything she needed to do to put herself in a position to be competitive.
Holly: As a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, my dad was definitely excited, but also equally nervous for me. He knew that with the DCC being such a world-class organization, the competition would be intense. But as always, he cheered me on in every possible way. It was a huge blessing to have his support through the rigorous audition process.
John: I was a little scared for her, so I secretly hoped that she would dance another year as captain of her college team. But, she knew in her heart that it was the right time, so she gave it everything she had and proved me wrong. She even made the DCC Show Group. For such a gentle soul, Holly has nerves of steel. To this day, we refer to DCC auditions as an ironman competition.
Jacie: DCC auditions conflicted with my college graduation date. The cap and gown had been bought, invitations, etc. So when I had the conversation with him, I thought it would be a debate because I would be missing my graduation and losing money. Surprisingly, he was very understanding and excited about it. He knew it would be a sacrifice, but he also knew it was the path I wanted to take. Like always, he supported my decision. And since he's a huge Cowboys fan as well, I instantly became the favorite child when I made the team!
Charles: I was excited and I thought it would be a great opportunity. I've been a lifelong Cowboys fan, so knowing this was an interest for her was a proud moment for me.
Jordan: I remember I walked into his office one day and told him I was officially going to audition for the DCC and I could tell right away he was excited for me. He's been supportive of my DCC dream from the beginning. As long as I am happy, he is happy. And it gave him a good excuse to splurge on Cowboys season tickets!
Charles: If someone had told me years ago while I was sitting through all those dance competitions waiting for our girl's three-minute routine that one day I would get to see Jordi perform as one of Americas Sweethearts AND in between routines watch my favorite Dallas Cowboys football team, well, talk about hitting the Dance Dad Lottery!
Have you been surprised with what goes into being a DCC, from the tryouts to the games to the appearances?
Terry: Not really any major surprises as we have known several DCCs over the years and had a pretty good idea what it took to be a part of the organization. Especially after working with Miss Kitty for several months, you get a real good feel for what it takes. Probably the biggest surprise was the amount of time that the girls spend at the stadium on game day.
Greg: Absolutely surprised. Being in the military, I know about tough training and never expected to see it in a group of cheerleaders. What I found during the preparation for tryouts, the tryouts themselves and the game rehearsals was a group of elite athletes with the mental toughness of warriors. I couldn't do it.
John: I really had no idea, but now I've seen firsthand how they always have to bring their A-game. They have a big legacy to uphold. It's why they are the best cheerleaders in the NFL. It is surprising to see all the hard work that goes into it, but it's worth every minute and all the effort.
Charles: "Yes and no. I think the biggest surprise I've had is that the veterans have to try out every year. Yet, having grown up with her being apart of different dance organizations, I understand that there's hard work in all of it."
Charles:Not Really. I've been around the Cowboys long enough to know that they are a proud organization with a rich tradition of being the best, not only on the field but also in and around the community. And, the DCC are a big part of that tradition.
How does dad handle seeing you perform, not to mention posing in calendars, with millions watching you?
Lauren: The only emotion I have ever seen from my dad before, during and after performing is pride. He stands tall at every game just beaming. Knowing that my family is in the stands supporting me at every game means the world to me. I wouldn't be able to survive the four-hour performance without them!
Terry: There's no difficulty at all knowing that millions are watching the cheerleaders perform. I've never been nervous watching Lauren dance; no reason to be because these girls are so prepared that there is nothing to be nervous about. Regarding the calendars, I have them. They are unopened under lock and key and will remain so. I do have the cover of last year's swimsuit edition of the Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine [which featured Lauren on the cover] framed and hanging on the wall in our den – high on the wall. It's a tall wall, very tall.
Chelsea: My dad loves seeing me perform. He is not an emotional man, but when he sees me dancing at Cowboys Stadium, living my dream, it makes him overwhelmed with happiness. I know he is proud of me and I can always count on him to flash me an "I love you" sign from the stands.
Greg: As far as nervousness or having difficulty? There's none at all.
Holly: I honestly don't think he gets nervous for me anymore because he knows this is something I was born to do. He is just extremely proud to see me cheer for the Dallas Cowboys, his favorite team!
John: I'm not going to lie, the swimsuit calendar was a little tricky the first year. After all, she is still my little girl!
Jacie: My dad is the definition of "cool as a cucumber." I don't think I've ever seen him nervous. So if he does get nervous about me performing in front of millions, he is a pro at hiding it.
Charles: No. I don't get nervous, and I don't think I should be. First, I've seen her perform and watched her grow up in that atmosphere. Second, her current uniform is better than some of her high school and college ones. Third, security with the Cowboys is greater than what we had at the high school and college level, so I feel pretty good.
Jordan: I don't think he gets nervous anymore. He has seen me perform so many times, so now he can just sit back and enjoy the show. Also, being a TCU Showgirl, he saw me perform in front of thousands of fans numerous times, so he's usually pretty relaxed when it comes to my DCC performances. My mom is probably a different story.
Charles: Only millions? C'mon, these are America's Sweethearts. I thought it was billions. Do I get nervous? Nah, she and all the DCC rock the house! Jordan will always be my shining star, only now it's a blue and silver star!
What has your dad's love and support meant to you?
Lauren: There is nothing better than the love from your family, especially your dad. My father has made life tough for any potential suitors. He has shown me what genuine love and support is, and how that should never stop. He has been there for me through the worst of times, and the best. I will never stop looking up to him. Love you Dad and thank you for the incredible life you have provided for Morgan and me. One day I'll pay you back!
Chelsea: My dad's love and support mean everything to me. He is the man that I will always respect more than anyone in my life. I have always been the one to love and support him through wars and battles. And not only that, but in life. He is an amazing man of God who inspires people every single day. To think that I have his support means more to me than anything ever will.
Holly: To have my dad's support has meant the world to me! He has such a big heart. He has taught me to work hard, but most importantly, to love what I do and have fun. Knowing that he supports me has given me the confidence to be the best I can be.
Jacie: My dad's love and support means the world to me. He's really been my rock over the past few years, and I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for the sacrifices he's made for my family. Words could never express how grateful I am to have a father like him.
Jordan: I love my dad so much. I am fortunate to have such a supportive dad, and I seriously feel so lucky to be his daughter. My dad is one of my biggest fans and has always been so proud of me. He has given me the foundation and support to chase my dreams. He worked hard to support my love of dance and my dream of becoming a DCC, and I will be forever grateful!