In a celebration of Father's Day this month, we bring you the second 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 second of two parts, meet Alex and Randal; Jasmine and James; Sydney and Mark; Katy and Jeff; Veronica, her father Martin and her stepfather Robert; and Amelia and Brian.
What do you remember about your relationship growing up as a dancer?
Alex: Growing up, I was always a daddy's girl who loved to be outdoors and play sports. I participated in every athletic event I could sign up for, including dance, track, basketball and softball. Not only were my parents always very supportive of me, but they also were actively involved in every activity I chose to pursue. Some of my favorite memories are from my softball years when my dad coached our summer tournament team.
Randal: Alex's past is a hodgepodge of activity involving everything from dance to track to softball. It seems as though she was always involved with some type of athletic activity – the more competitive, the better. We noticed early on that she didn't have the common fear of performing in front of crowds. It did, however, really stress out her mother and me. We were nervous for her.
Jasmine:Growing up, my dad was always been my biggest supporter and my biggest fan. He was always at every game and performance I had. If ever had a bad practice or performance, I could always count on him to cheer me up and see the brighter side of things.
James: I remember how happy Jasmine was when she performed in front of people. Yes, it was a big deal because she was doing something she enjoyed and it showed in her performance.
Sydney:My dad went to every performance I was in, and supported me in everything since I was three years old. He was always there with a smile, a big hug, and flowers. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for his love, support and encouragement!
Mark:Ever since Sydney learned how to walk, she never walked, she always ran everywhere and danced. We enrolled her in dance classes when she was three years old, and she was always happy when she danced. She danced everywhere and at all times of the day. As she grew up, she focused more and more on classical ballet. She performed in Rio Grande Valley Ballet's "The Nutcracker" for five years, and she was the first non-professional dancer in the RGV to take on the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. She also was the Snow Queen and Clara. I supported her in every performance.
Katy:Growing up, my dad attended (maybe sometimes against his better judgment) all of my recitals, competitions and games. He normally got paired with the dreaded late-night carpool pick-up and Sonic run with five noisy girls in the car. Nonetheless, he was always there when I needed him.
I think the ultimate test was my senior year of high school when I asked him to do the daddy-daughter halftime dance at our homecoming game with me. Let's just say he is somewhat "rhythmically challenged" (sorry dad), and this was not the simplest thing he's ever done, to say the least. However, he took the bull by the horns and attended all of the daddy-daughter practices with a washrag in his pocket to wipe the sweat off from all of his hard work. We even practiced on our own outside of team practices and somehow ended up on the front row on the 50-yard line of the formation!
I'll never forget the night of the game seeing all of the dads lined up at the edge of the field ready to walk on and dance with their daughters in front of the entire town. My dad was so nervous that he couldn't even find me right before he was about to go on, but we ended up making it to our right spots on the field (front and center) and he gave it everything he had out there. I was so proud of him for stepping out of his comfort zone and also happy that he got a chance to see how it is from my perspective when I dance at games. That is a memory that I will always cherish. Thanks dad!
Jeff: Yes, her dancing has always been a part of our lives, including sweet little tap dances, dance recitals, high school drill team, dance studio drama, SEC football weekends in Fayetteville and then the DCC.
Veronica: Growing up, I had the best support system, times two! I had a loving father, whose support came from Albuquerque, N.M. And, I had an amazing stepfather who I could count on to always be in the crowd next to my mother's side. More than likely, they were waving their hands in excitement to let me know they were there.
Martin: When Veronica was younger she just loved to dance around. I live in Albuquerque and try to visit as much as I can, but one fond memory I have is when her high school dance team performed a daddy-daughter dance during halftime. The timing was perfect because I just happened to visit her for that game and was able to dance with her. She has always been a natural when it comes to performing in front of people and things like that come easy for her. I, on the other hand, was so nervous to dance on that field. I think everything Veronica has done and will do in the future is a big deal to me. I'm so proud of her.
Robert: Growing up she was always in the spotlight. She loved performing with her pep squad in middle school, and when she started taking dance classes in high school, that is when I could see she had a passion for dancing. She always wanted to perform in front of people. I started telling her she would be a DCC the day her mom and I took her to go see the cheerleaders. She was so excited and couldn't believe how pretty they were. I didn't think it was a big deal until she continued to accomplish each goal. I knew it was only a matter of time before she would be off to Dallas.
Amelia: My dad has supported me throughout my entire life. He has always given the best advice and encouraged me to be the best Amelia possible. I can honestly say he is my No. 1 fan!
Brian: I remember all of the daily practice sessions, the new dance costumes and the yearly recitals. It was always a big deal right down to the bright pink dance room we had upstairs in our home.
What was the conversation like when you talked about trying out for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders?
Alex: When I first brought up DCC tryouts with my dad, I'm pretty sure he thought I was either bluffing or just going through another ambitious phase. He seemed to just shrug it off saying, "Yeah, sure Alex, go for it", not thinking I actually would. Of course, when he realized this was actually an achievable goal, he did everything in his power to support and help me.
Randal:My first thoughts were similar to "Are you CRAZY?!" Then I was very afraid for her because I really thought that the DCC was beyond her reach, and I didn't want to see her hurt if she failed. Not long into the tryouts, I was reminded how Alex has always had more courage and guts than anyone I know. Her "not being afraid to fail" personality has led her to many achievements in her young life that she otherwise would not have experienced.
Jasmine:When I decided to audition for the DCC, I had just spent a year away working for Disney Cruise Line and didn't know how I was going to tell my dad that I might be moving again. But to my surprise, he was so excited for me! However, the first thing that came out of his mouth was "COWBOYS?!" See, my Dad grew up a Steelers fan. But that didn't bother him at all because he knew how important dancing and the DCC were to me. So he did everything possible with helping me and making sure I made this team.
James:My first thought was "WOW! This is going to be very hard." I hoped that she would make the team and hoped that if she didn't the first time, she would not let that deter her from her goal of becoming a DCC.
Sydney:I remember saying, "Hey dad, I'm going to move to Dallas!" in a somewhat humorous tone because I never thought I would actually make the team out of *so *many girls and move away from home. He told me to go for it. Performing has always been a passion of mine, and I have always loved giving back to others. My dad use to be "Santa" at children's hospitals around the Rio Grande Valley, and I was his "elf." I passed out toys and gifts to the kids that didn't get to spend Christmas at home or couldn't afford books, toys, and other things. As I grew up, I was Miss Rio Grande Valley Teen USA 2007, and I gave back to my community in every way possible. When I told him that I was going to audition for the DCC, he knew that it was the right choice for me because I would be able to continue my passions all while representing the best football team and organization in the world.
Mark: Sydney graduated high school early, and was in college by age 17 when she told me she wanted to branch out of ballet and expand her dancing career. She went to a dance competition in Denton, Texas, and when she came back she told me that she had been asked to audition for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. I knew as soon as she told me that it was the right path for her. I knew she would be able to continue her passion for dance and love for giving back to others as a DCC.
Katy: I wanted to try out for the DCC my senior year of high school, and he insisted that I go to a university first and get the full college experience before I try out. At the time, it was hard to accept, but I am glad that my parents influenced me to go and dance on the pom squad while there.
I graduated college on a Saturday and my dad was there the entire weekend to help me pack up my whole life into a U-Haul and drive me back to Dallas that night after graduation. Sunday morning, I was getting dropped off at Cowboys Stadium at 7 a.m. to try out for the DCC. It has been a whirlwind ever since, but my dad (and mom) have always been there to support me through it all. I am so blessed and I can't say thank you enough, daddy.
Jeff: I was excited, but really worried she would get her feelings hurt if she didn't make it. We knew it was her dream and the competition was tough!
Veronica:It's pretty funny because when I was little, my stepdad told me I was going to be a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. After every new team I danced for, he would always jokingly ask me, "When are you going to cheer for my favorite team?" I know that my stepdad has always known that I wanted to cheer for the Cowboys and that one day I would audition. But, what he didn't know was that he was the one person who fueled my courage. I remember our conversation was pretty short. It was me basically telling him my plans to audition and him saying, "ABOUT TIME!"
I told my dad that I was auditioning for the DCC when he came to my college graduation party. My graduation party was just a few days before I left for the first round of auditions. He asked me when I was leaving, and my response was "oh, this Saturday." It came to him as a surprise, but I know he was excited; the Dallas Cowboys are his favorite team also. I guess Cowboys blood runs in the family.
Martin:When Veronica told me she was auditioning, I was excited, nervous and scared for my daughter, but at the same time I knew she would accomplish her goal. I had all my faith in her. When Veronica sets her mind on a goal she is going to do all it takes to make it a reality.
Robert: I was getting ready to deploy to Iraq when she told me she was going to try out for the DCC. I really wanted to be there for auditions, I'm always at every audition, so before I left, I told her to just be herself and no matter what happened I was a proud dad. I had no doubt in my mind that she would make the team. She is a go-getter.
Amelia: When my dad and I discussed me trying out for the DCC, I remember him being all for it. He wanted me to challenge myself and have confidence that I could make my dreams come true.
Brian:When she told me that she was going to try out for the DCC, I wasn't surprised. I was confident she could be successful if she was willing to work harder than ever before to achieve this ultimate goal.
Have you been surprised with what goes into being a DCC, from the tryouts to the games to the appearances?
Randal:Yes, although she had quite a lot of preparation for this with the Louisiana Tech University dance line. Still, the amount of time and effort for DCC is unbelievable! We had never attended an NFL game (neither had Alex), so that first game was very special to all of us. I know it's tremendously emotional for the cheerleaders, but it's every bit as emotional and proud an experience for us, as parents.
James: I was not surprised that it was hard to make the team. After seeing the show, I got a glimpse of how hard the girls really worked and how Kelli and Judy don't miss a thing.
Mark: As her dad, I have always been supportive and known that she was going to do great things and that she would be busy. When I get a phone call from her saying she is headed to Kuwait and Bahrain or South Korea for over 10 days during Christmas-time and New Years, part of me wishes she was here for the holidays, and the other part is so proud of the things she is doing for our community and U.S. military. I served in the U.S. Air Force, and I know how much it means to the men and women who serve our country. I love talking to Sydney and seeing how much it all means to her, and hearing all of her stories. There is a lot more to being a DCC than just auditions and performing. I couldn't be more proud of the things she does and the things that the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders do.
Jeff:We knew it was a big commitment but underestimated the time required. We are really impressed with the high standards that must be upheld.
Martin: I've been very surprised about everything it takes to become a DCC. She keeps me updated with her recent appearances and I love hearing about her workouts and traveling; it's no surprise why she is always busy. On game days when I watch her dance, I see the long hours the team puts in, but all of her hard work shows when she performs on the field.
Robert: I've been a Cowboys fan since I was little so I know that when you make the DCC, you are a part of an elite dance team and they expect the best. I was a little surprised after watching the CMT show, but when Veronica danced in the NBA, I saw the commitment it required then as well. I knew she could handle it.
Brian: I don't think I was surprised because she has always been committed to being the best she can be. The time commitment and level of difficulty has progressively increased from Vicki's School of Dance to Airline High School's dance team to the Kilgore College Rangerettes and now the DCC.
How does dad handle seeing you perform, not to mention posing in calendars, with millions watching you?
Alex:This entire experience has been new and exciting for all of us. He knows how much of my heart I have invested into the DCC, and I think he is more proud of me than anything. He tells me all the time how proud he is of my courage and work ethic. The only times I see either of my parents get nervous for me is whenever I let my own nerves show through.
Randal: I've had a lot of guys (dads) ask me just that same question. They're like, "Man, how can you stand it knowing all those guys are staring at your daughter?" It's kind of hard for them to believe when I tell them that she's an entertainer and it doesn't bother me a bit. Also, I see how the fans really light up when the cheerleaders are around and can see how the fans consider them "their cheerleaders."
Jasmine: I don't think it bothers him at all having millions of people watching me perform. I'm sure he is use to it by now with all the shows and performances I have had in my life. I think when he's watching he has his father moment and is proud to tell everyone that's his little girl.
James:I do not have any difficulties with my daughter entertaining millions of people. I am a very proud father of a wonderful young lady and a DCC. Not many dads can say, "My daughter is a DCC." I am part of a select group of dads. We are a special fraternity: DCC Dad.
Sydney: I don't think my dad gets nervous watching me perform in front of millions of eyes. He loves it because he knows I am enjoying it!
Mark:I don't get nervous watching her perform or seeing her in calendars. When she is happy and fulfilling her dreams, I am happy.
Katy: I think that my dad has been to enough of my dance recitals and games to not get nervous every time I step out onto the stage or field anymore. Sometimes I think he is more nervous for the Cowboys than he is for me. Just kidding (kind of!)
Jeff:I really don't get nervous because I am confident in Katy and know she loves performing. I must admit the swimsuit calendar makes me squirm, but if her brothers can handle it, then so can I.
Veronica: With my dad, because he lives in a different state, I honestly think he is too busy soaking up the memories to feel anything but pure happiness and pride in me. And with my stepdad, it's not his first rodeo; he has been to countless performances and games. I think even if I fell on my face in front of millions, he would just cheer louder. I can truly say this, though, when they both watch me dance, they are happy to see me doing what I love and living my dream. I know they cherish each moment that I'm performing because I cherish each moment that I get to share this experience with them.
Martin: I've been a Dallas Cowboys fan since I was a young boy, so I have no difficulty knowing millions are watching my daughter perform. It just makes me that much more proud of having the honor of Veronica being my daughter. I like the calendars; they show the natural beauty of my daughter and her teammates. As a father, of course I get nervous, but at the same time, I know Veronica is doing what she loves to do and she is good at it. Not only is she a fantastic daughter, she is also a fantastic performer. I'm so honored to have such an amazing person to call my daughter.
Robert: I'm never nervous, but am very proud of her because I know she has accomplished so much. Every time I see her on stage or in a magazine or calendar I am so proud to say that is my daughter and am very proud of her accomplishments. It isn't difficult at all to know millions are watching her. She always carries herself so well and when I think about it, she has always been like that even when she was younger. I know this is just the beginning for her.
Amelia: He loves watching me perform and definitely doesn't mind others watching either. He is proud of my accomplishments and he knows how precious it is for me to be out on the field wearing that iconic uniform. I don't think he gets nervous because he has full faith in my abilities, which is nice to have in the back of my head!
Brian:I am completely fine with it. She's still daddy's little girl in my eyes. I do not get nervous because I know she is very well prepared.
What has your dad's love and support meant to you?
Alex:I feel extremely blessed and fortunate to have a father that supports and believes in me the way that he does. I am able to follow and conquer my dreams because I have two amazing parents that will stand by my side every step of the way. Seeing the happiness on his face while I am performing is something I will always cherish and remember.
Jasmine:I am so blessed to have the support and love that my dad has given me all my life. Knowing he has my back whenever I need him or going through anything means the world to me. I'm one lucky girl! I know I'm making him proud.
Sydney: My dad loves me and supports me like no other. He always has the best advice. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I am today. I still remember auditioning for the DCC back in 2008. Being away from my friends and family back home, which is nine hours away from Dallas, is not easy when you are 18 years old, but having my dad's love and support helped me achieve my dream, and I am thankful to be representing this amazing organization as a six-year veteran this season!
Katy: I'm so thankful to have a supportive, loving father that has been there from my first recital to all of my high school, college and now NFL games. I know that he doesn't understand all of the dance terminology like what a pirouette or a grand jeté is, but I know that he is proudest of me when I try my hardest and that means the world to me.
Veronica: All of my dreams, all of my failures and every single experience I have ever encountered, I couldn't have achieved or overcome if I didn't have the love and support I get from my father and my stepfather. Ultimately, I think I'm lucky because I have two dads who have supported my dreams and who will continue to support me wholeheartedly in everything I do.
Amelia: My dad's love and support means everything to me! I don't think he realizes just how special it is to see his face in the stands along with my mom at every home game. He always waves and I just get a huge grin on my face knowing that he is proud I'm doing something I'm so passionate about. His unconditional love is the best part about my dad. He truly is a role model of mine and it is because of him I can call myself one of America's Sweetheart's. I love you Dad, forever and always!