Former MSU Pom Squad Captain Vying For Spot on Dallas Cowboys’ Cheerleader Squad

By Dustin Barnes
Clarion Ledger

Lauren Stanley Reed has been a cheerleader for Mississippi most of her life.

But now the 22-year-old Waynesboro native and former Mississippi State University Pom Squad captain has set her sights on another goal — the Dallas Cowboys and their elite cheerleading team.

Reed, an MSU graduate, has gone through the audition process, and she’s prepping for a chance to make it to the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders’ training camp this summer to compete for a permanent spot on the team. Votes from her home state could help secure her a spot for the camp.

The training camp experience is filmed and aired later in the fall, part of CMT’s “Making The Team” reality show, Reed said. And while the show’s judges will decide the rest of the participants who will have a shot to impress at the camp, audience votes can guarantee a spot at the camp for one of the contestants.

Already, Reed has seen support pouring in from her Mississippi State friends, coaches and teammates. But as she pointed out, her goal isn’t to just represent MSU but the entire state.

“I’m the only girl from Mississippi, so I’m representing the entire state,” she said. “And I’ve been overwhelmed with all the support.”

The praise for Reed and her dedication also comes from Melissa Nichols, MSU’s Spirit coordinator who worked with Reed during her time on the Pom Squad.

“I would say Lauren is not only beautiful on the outside, she’s also beautiful on the inside,” Nichols said. “She has a caring heart.”

Nichols said Reed was one of the best all-around performers she’s seen on the squad during her time at MSU. “Not only is she good with dancing, but she’s great at catching the crowd’s attention.”

The results of the vote will be revealed on May 19. If Reed doesn’t garner the most votes, she still has the chance to make it to the camp, she said.

To be on the Dallas Cowboy cheerleading team is a chance to take her love of dance and cheer to a much larger level, Reed said.

To her supporters, Reed said, “Be thinking about me. I’m just going to dance my heart out.”

[DCC Finalist Vote]

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders 2013 auditions at Cowboys Stadium

By JAY BETSILL
Special to DFW.com
May 07, 2013

Photo Gallery [Day 1] [Day 2]

ARLINGTON — For many, the first Saturday in May means the Kentucky Derby and the fastest two minutes in sports. To the nearly 500 women in line outside Cowboys Stadium in the unseasonably cold weather, it signaled a grueling 10 hours for the opportunity to make their dreams come true and become a member of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

The legendary Phil Whitfield opened the doors at 8 a.m. to welcome the ladies into the $1.2 billion football palace that’s home to the five-time Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys as well as the location for all three rounds of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders auditions that lead up to the summer-long training camp. Once inside, the ladies got ready to look their absolute best in the ‘Fluff & Puff’ area before heading down to the field for the welcome address from DCC Director Kelli Finglass.

With the cameras rolling for the eighth season of CMT’s Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, Finglass explained what the judges would be looking for — from personality and enthusiasm to appearance and dance technique. The 15 judges included Finglass (in her 23rd season at the helm of the DCC), DCC choreographer Judy Trammell, Cowboys Executive Vice President Charlotte Jones Anderson, the Official Trainer of the DCC Jay Johnson, DallasCowboys.com’s Mickey Spagnola and 105.3 The Fan’s Chris Arnold.

During Saturday’s preliminaries, each of the ladies got 90 seconds of freestyle to impress the judges and stand out among the huge crowd that featured women from Melbourne, Fla. to Melbourne, Australia. The large number of international candidates included hopefuls form Shanghai, Japan, Guam and South Africa. Many of the ladies had experience with pro sports teams, including the NFL (Colts, Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Redskins, Patriots, Jets and Dolphins), NBA (Mavericks, Thunder, Bucks and Suns) and NHL (Stars and Bruins). Teams such as the Texas Legends Dancers, Allen Americans Ice Angels, FC Dallas Dancers, Cedar Rapids Titans and the former Dallas Desperados Dancers were also represented.

Susie Sanchez, a 39 year-old grandmother from California, had a year on the Oakland Raiders’ Raiderettes squad under her belt. But like more than 300 others, Sanchez did not advance to Sunday’s semifinal round. There were three sets of twins trying out, with two sets of sisters making it to Sunday, but none going on to the finals.

The semifinals began with the ladies going down onto the field to learn a routine and the signature DCC kick line from Trammell and DCC alumni Ally Traylor and Audrea Cowan. Then they performed in groups of five for the judges panel.

Following the judges’ deliberations, Finglass returned and one-by-one announced who would be returning for the final round and welcomed them to join her onstage. With each passing second seeming like an eternity, the suspense continued to build for those still seated as the reality that they would not be advancing began to sink in.

“It’s really hard coming back as a former Training Camp Candidate, because I know what I would be missing if I got cut,” said Kathryn Dunn, Miss Fort Worth 2010, who was one of the ladies to hear her number called.

“My heart was pounding, so when Kelli actually did call my number, I was so excited and honored because it showed that they still believe in my potential as a DCC,” she continued. “Now I just have to work hard and show them my best at the Final Audition round!”

When Sunday came to a close, 54 women were invited to the Final Auditions, which take place May 18th and will include a record 32 returning veteran cheerleaders from the 2012 DCC squad. Those who survive will be one step closer to performing in front of 100,000 fans at the greatest sports venue in the world.

For more information on the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, check out their Official Facebook Page and Official Twitter Page.

Vote for your favorite DCC finalists

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have opened up the judging for input from the fans. Click here to see more of the finalists and cast your vote. You may have to refresh the page a few times. (Note: This group is prospective rookies only. It does not include veteran Cowboys Cheerleaders.)

Scenes from the 2013 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Open Call

Click here for tons of photos from Saturday’s prelims!

What it’s like to audition to be a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader

By Michael Florek
dallasnews.com
May 5, 2013

ARLINGTON — Lauren Herington is the last in her group of five. In a purple-with-pink trim dance outfit, she smiles as she faces the two rows of judges.

After the four other members introduce themselves, Herington takes the microphone. Cameras from a CMT reality show focus in. She has 10 seconds.

“I’m Lauren Herrington. I’m 19 years old and I’m from Decatur, Illinois. I’m a full time student working on my biology major and I’m also a client care representative at the local veterinary in my home town.”

After a moment, Kelli Finglass, director of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, releases the group to the floor. Ninety seconds of freestyle dance would either validate or repudiate Herington’s past six months.

***

Herington made the decision back in October. This year was the year. She was going to audition to become a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.

She began working out three hours a day and found a full-time job in order to have the money to come to Dallas. When college got in the way, she switched to online classes.

“Some of my family was like, ‘Oh you need to just focus on your schooling,’ ” Herington says. “I’m still managing to go to school full time. I still have good grades. I’ve just got to stay up late and devote time to homework and everything like that.

“But my family has always been supportive. They know I’ve always wanted to do this.”

Herington is one of over 400 at Cowboys Stadium on this first Saturday in May.

They come from 36 states and four countries. They are missing graduations and coming home from honeymoons. They are 18-year-old high school seniors and experienced dancers in their 30s and 40s. They are twins and grandmas, collegiate dancers and cheerleaders from eight other NFL teams.

“Everybody knows the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are the cheerleaders,” Herington says. “Might as well shoot for the stars and miss rather just land on something that’s OK.”

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader hopefuls line up to getstamp a stamped signaling all their paper work was handed in before the start of the preliminary auditions for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders at Cowboys Stadium Saturday May 4, 2013.(Ron Baselice/ The Dallas Morning News)

The girls spread out among the concourse, applying makeup and fixing hair in the mirrors of the “Fluff and Puff Station”, taking pictures in front of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders sign, and finding empty spaces to practice steps and pirouettes. But most of all, they wait.

They wait for the others to check in. They wait for the first announcement. Herington arrives at Cowboys Stadium at 7:30 a.m. They aren’t brought to the section 123 and met by Finglass until 10:15.

Finglass is the leader, a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader now in her 23rd year of overseeing auditions. She stands on top of the field-level suites and lays out the journey.

Today, Saturday, is the preliminaries, a simple 90-second freestyle dance. Make the cut and you’re into to the semifinals on Sunday, where you’ll learn a choreographed dance routine. Then it’s on to the personal interview. Ace that and the finals await, consisting of a written test, a 90-second talent presentation, and a choreographed dance combination and kick line. From there, it’s on to training camp, where the veterans await. And by the way, more of them are returning than ever.

The judges grade on four criteria: appearance, figure, showmanship, and free style.

“Do you look attractive?” Finglass says to the group. “Does it look like you fit into our uniform?

“We want showmanship and bright smiles, dynamic people who can bring notice to us.”

There is still an hour until auditions begin. More pirouettes, more puffing and fluffing.

Eventually, the auditionees are instructed to take their seats on either side of the dance floor. The judges are coming. There are 15 in total. Finglass and Charlotte Jones Anderson, the Cowboys Executive Vice President. Choreographer Judy Trammel and fitness instructor Jay Johnson. Media members, sponsors, even the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders official dentist.

Around 11:15, it’s time to start.

Herington is No. 345, closer to the end than the beginning, and for more hours of waiting. She watches some performances, keeps her head down for others.

“I try to think (positively) so I don’t get in my head like, ‘Oh, I’m not good enough to do this,’ ” she says. “You just have to go in and be like, ‘I’ve got this.’ ”

The hour lunch break arrives. Herington still hasn’t gone.

That means more counting of steps, more dancing, more thinking.

“You have so many people back at home that are like, ‘Oh, you’re going to do this! You’re going to do this!’ ” Herrington says. “You don’t want to have to come home and be like ‘I didn’t do it.’ ”

And if that happens?

“I don’t know. I’m living day-to-day.”

Just after 3 p.m., a full seven and a half hours after first arriving, Herrington makes her introduction and gets her 90 seconds.

When the Top 40 music dies down and the flurry of hair flips, spins, and leg kicks stops, the contestants are brought to the front for one more pose. The judges make their final “yes”, “no”, or “maybe”, marking on their scorecards. Herington’s audition is over.

She dons a smile as she returns to her seat. It felt good.

“The routine I had ready, it didn’t really happen,” she says with a laugh. “I just started doing something.

“Once we got done we were like ‘We want to do it again.’ I was just so excited just to be up there. … It’s such a rush.”

The rest of the girls perform. The judge leave to deliberate. They say they’ll be ready with the semifinalists by 5:30. The white board containing the numbers of the semifinalists isn’t rolled until after six o’clock.

Security guard Phil Whitfield has that honor. He takes it outside, where a gray morning has turned into a cloudless afternoon and the girls wait in front of CMT’s cameras. Slowly, Whitfield rolls himself in the sheet, revealing the numbers.

There are screams and hugs and interviews with CMT. Herington stands way in the back, wiping away tears.

One hundred and thirty seven names were on that board. No. 345 wasn’t one of them.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Auditions Draw Women From Australia, Japan

Dallas News
May 4, 2013

ARLINGTON — Jinelle Davidson doesn’t know much about football. It’s not really big in Melbourne, Australia.

Yet, she flew 19 hours to join the hundreds of girls at Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders auditions on Saturday anyway.

Davidson has been Rugby League cheerleader for the past seven seasons back in her home country. After seeing country mate Angela Rena make the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders a couple of years ago via CMT’s Reality Show, ‘Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team’, Davidson decided to try it out for herself.

“I was just really inspired by her,” Davidson said of Rena. “I love cheerleading so much that I wanted to come and have a go here too. … The NFL, it’s not big in Australia, so I’ve had to learn a lot so far.

“It’s really complicated.”

Davidson wasn’t the only international auditioning. Natsuki Kaito-Fritz, 31, was an “office worker” and cheerleader for Japan’s football league up until three years ago, when she came to Dallas and won a spot as a Mavericks dancer. She left the Mavericks and tried to dance for the San Antonio Spurs, but couldn’t dance due to visa issues.

“I kept getting approached to try the Cowboys,” Kaito-Fritz said.

Kaito-Fritz was one of two from Japan. Another came from Canada, another from Guam.

Kaito-Fritz didn’t made the first cut, as did Davidson, both advancing the semifinal round on Sunday.

“I’m really just kind of going day-by-day,” Davidson said.

She’ll last at least one more.


Paige Larkins, #71, of Temperance, Missouri and Shelby Haire of Frisco where among the 400 plus who tried out at the preliminary auditions for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders held at Cowboys Stadium Saturday May 4, 2013.(Ron Baselice/ The Dallas Morning News)
Photo: Ron Baselice/Staff Photographer


Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader hopefuls line up to getstamp a stamped signaling all their paper work was handed in before the start of the preliminary auditions for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders at Cowboys Stadium Saturday May 4, 2013.(Ron Baselice/ The Dallas Morning News)
Photo: Ron Baselice/Staff Photographer


Jessica Tame of Round Rock uses a stair rail as a ballet barre to stretch as she waits for the preliminary auditions for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders to begin Saturday May 4, 2013 at Cowboys Stadium.(Ron Baselice/ The Dallas Morning News)
Photo: Ron Baselice/Staff Photographer


Nikki Kirby, #13, of Surprise, Arizona catches her breath after she danced in the preliminary auditions for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders held at Cowboys Stadium Saturday May 4, 2013.(Ron Baselice/ The Dallas Morning News)
Photo: Ron Baselice/Staff Photographer


Shanelle Paine of Van Alstyne, Texas warms up before the preliminary auditions for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders begin Saturday May 4, 2013 at Cowboys Stadium. (Ron Baselice/ The Dallas Morning News)
Photo: Ron Baselice/Staff Photographer


Shauna Hamby came from Boone, North Carolina to attend the preliminary auditions for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders held at Cowboys Stadium Saturday May 4, 2013.(Ron Baselice/ The Dallas Morning News)
Photo: Ron Baselice/Staff Photographer


Dancers had 90 seconds of freestyle dancing to make an impression on the judges at the preliminary auditions for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders held at Cowboys Stadium Saturday May 4, 2013. (Ron Baselice/ The Dallas Morning News)
Photo: Ron Baselice/Staff Photographer


Yijiao Zhuang of Dallas Is reflected in her makeup mirror as she makes some last minute adjustments on her hair before the preliminary auditions for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders held at Cowboys Stadium Saturday May 4, 2013. This was her first time to try out.(Ron Baselice/ The Dallas Morning News)
Photo: Ron Baselice/Staff Photographer

Susie Sanchez, grandmother and former Oakland Raiderette, tries out to become Dallas Cowboys cheerleader

Dallas News
May 4, 2013

ARLINGTON — More than 200 hundred women came to the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders auditions on Saturday. Only one was a grandmother.

Susie Sanchez is 39 years old and the mother to a 19-year-old, a 14-year-old, an 11-year-old and grandmother to a two-year-old. She’s also a former Raiderette.

Sanchez quit dancing for 11 years before picking it back up in her early 30s. The California native spent five years trying to become a Raiderette. In 2011, the dream was realized, shortly after her grandchild was born.

“The year I was on that team, some of the girls were born the year I graduated,” Sanchez said. “If you look at the numbers, it’s ‘What am I doing?’ ”

With 40 closing in August, Sanchez wanted to take one more shot. This time with the Cowboys.

“I thought why not?” Sanchez said. “I got to go to the big guys. I’ve got to go to the best team in the NFL.

Sanchez caught a flight in to Dallas on Thursday. Given no. 373, she was one of the last dancers of the day, but not the oldest, which was 41.

Just like the 18-year-olds she was competing against, Sanchez got her 90 seconds in front of the judges. The dream ended a short while later during the first cuts.

“This year I decided this was going to be it for me,” Sanchez said. “I was telling myself, I’m going to end it here.”

Interview with Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Jackie Bob

Eboni Graham
Amarillo Globe-News
May 3, 2013

While the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders were in town for the 9th annual Amarillo Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Cinco de Mayo Fajita Festival on Thursday, I got the opportunity to chat with veteran cheerleader Jackie Bob. Her journey to Texas is interesting, thus reinforcing the power of the Dallas Cowboys franchise/brand. I will say that Jackie is extremely personable and I’m not sure if she gave me a hug out of pity (I waited, like, three hours to get this interview) or if she’s just super friendly like that, but she just got a new recruit for the JB team!

Interview with Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, Jackie Bob:

Q: Since you’re from California, how did you make it to Texas?

A: I’ve always been a huge fan of the Dallas Cowboys. I would sit at home and watch their show and I would find myself getting inspired. So I booked a ticket, not even really expecting to make it, and God willing, I made the team, and now I’ve been living in Texas for the past four years.

Q:What part of California are you from?

A: I’m actually from the Bay area. I was born in Los Angeles and lived in the Bay area.

Q: Thoughts on Amarillo?

A: The best fans I’ve probably met outside of Dallas. I mean, there have been hundreds upon thousands of people lined up, decked out in Dallas Cowboys attire. From the time we’ve got off the airplane, people were wearing Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader T-shirts. It’s just been so welcoming. I’m, like, overwhelmed with all this love and attention and it feels really good. I’m so happy to be here.

Q: What’s the most challenging part about being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader?

A: There’s two things that I would say are challenging, although great: The one thing was being a Rookie. You have to go through a long, rigorous training process before you’re actually on the team. And the second thing is, you kind of have to manage your time. We all are full-time students or either have a full-time job, and so that can be a struggle, but I think if you manage your time and stay on top of things, you’re able to live your personal life, your career, and be a cheerleader at the same time.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Visit Amarillo

By Eboni Graham
Amarillo.com

Neither rain nor cold kept Amarilloans from attending the 9th annual Amarillo Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Cinco de Mayo Fajita Festival on Thursday evening.

The annual festival, held downtown on Polk Street between Seventh and 10th avenues, brought out crowds in record numbers.

“Rain sleet, or shine” the event will not be canceled, said Dora Chavarria, executive director of the Amarillo Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, preparing for the worst of weather conditions.

The festival featured musical acts such as Smooth Condition, Trio Cortez, and Michael Salgado along with special guests, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

“We get local bands and have all genres of music for everyone to enjoy to make it cross-cultural,” Chavarria said. “Trio Cortez and Smooth Condition are local bands and they play all genres of music … and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are a neutral group since they reach all genres. I mean who doesn’t love America’s Sweethearts.”

Jackie Bob, a member of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, said this was her first time being in Amarillo and outside of Dallas fans, Amarillo had probably the best fans she’s met.

“Since I’ve been a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, I pretty much stay kind of in that area, so events like this are really special to me because I feel like I get to reach out to fans all over Texas,” Bob said.

[DCC Amarillo Slideshow]

NE student cheers Cowboys when not in classroom

By Elaine Bonilla/se news editor
The Tarrant County College Collegian
April 30, 2013

Amelia Bren Smith is a typical college student who attends NE Campus when she’s not busy being a sweetheart, or rather one of America’s Sweethearts.

America’s Sweethearts is what the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders are called, and Smith has been one of 39 cheerleaders on the squad for the 2012 season.

The Louisiana native moved in 2009 to East Texas, where she attended Kilgore College. Smith auditioned for the famous Rangerette dance team at the college and became part of the 70th line.

After her two years at Kilgore, she moved to Dallas to audition for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders along with 500-600 other women.

“I gave everything I had and moved to Dallas unknowing the outcome and auditioned,” Smith said. “I am completing my second year as a DCC as of now, and I will be auditioning in May for the opportunity to cheer a third season as one of America’s Sweethearts.”

Smith’s mom, Debbie Smith, said her daughter has been dancing since she was 5 years old, and she first started talking about trying out for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders when she was in the eighth grade.

“She has always loved the DCC,” Amelia Smith’s aunt Sheri Kyle said. “She wanted to go and spread her wings in Dallas.”

The tryouts consisted of three rounds. The first was a freestyle round where the girls showed off their moves. The second round involved learning a jazz and kick routine, and the third round was a solo dance routine, panel interview and a jazz and kick routine.

“If you make it through all of this, you are invited into training camp, which lasts all summer with the possibility of being cut any night of the week,” Smith said. “It’s basically a time to learn the ins and outs of being a cheerleader and to become familiar with the 50-plus dance routines we learn for the year as well as the rules involved with the organization.”

Alexandra Gandara, a rookie alongside Smith, said the process was intimidating and takes a special young woman to show up at auditions.

“It’s scary to put yourself out there,” she said. “Showing up is half the battle.”

Game day is a long process that starts out arriving at Valley Ranch practice facility about four or five hours before kickoff.

“We travel as a team to Cowboys Stadium where we rehearse as if we were performing at the actual game. This means we go through each of our quarter dances,” she said. “We run pregame show, and we practice our entrances and exits.”

The practice takes almost two hours before they head back to the locker room and start getting ready, which takes about another two hours because of taking pictures and having fun, Smith said.

Football is just a small part of being America’s Sweethearts.

The majority of the time is spent making charity appearances. The appearances are on a volunteer basis, so it’s usually a small group at a time.

“We have worked with Make a Wish Foundation, Salvation Army, veterans hospitals of Dallas and Fort Worth,” she said. “We make appearances at local hospitals in the DFW as well as assisted-living facilities and elementary, middle and high schools.”

Smith said it can be difficult balancing school and the cheerleading squad, but cheerleaders are required to either attend school or have a career.

“I would consider myself a very focused person,” Smith said. “I take it one day at a time and do my best to accomplish each of my goals in my schooling and my cheerleading career.”

Smith said the charity events are the most rewarding part of being a cheerleader.

“Giving back to our community is the least we can do,” she said.

Gandara said Smith is kind and caring. She was the rookie who always volunteered most for community service.

Debbie Smith said her daughter likes her charity events.

“Being on the field is flamboyant and flashy, but the other moments are really what count,” Debbie Smith said.

Traveling around the country is also something the squad gets to do.

The cheerleaders recently came back from a swimsuit calendar photo shoot in Mexico.

“It’s definitely lots of fun to be there working and having fun with 38 of my best friends,” she said.

Smith has had the chance to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Kyle said.

Smith said being on the squad has helped her grow tremendously as a dancer and an individual.

“I have learned discipline, time management, life skills, and I have become more comfortable within myself and gained confidence in areas that I lacked it in,” She said. “I am very grateful for my experiences as a cheerleader because it’s shaped me into the person I am today.”

Smith plans to pursue a communications degree at the University of Texas at Arlington in the fall.

“She’s just your average, sweet, down-to-earth girl,” Kyle said.

“She’s still our Amelia even after she puts on her uniform.”