Green Hope grad dons Cowboys boots

Aliana Ramos
Cary News
Sep 18, 2012

APEX – Six hundred women auditioned this year for the chance to wear the famous blue and white uniform of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Only 39 made the team, and one of them was Carisa McMillan of Apex.

After two months of training camp, where McMillan feared getting cut from the squad nearly every day, the reality that she made it didn’t sink in until she saw her life-size photo hanging above a locker in Cowboys Stadium.

McMillan, 22, tried out for the squad while preparing for finals at Appalachian State University, where she graduated as a dance major with a minor in business.

“I was about to graduate when I realized I wasn’t done performing,” said McMillan, who was captain of ASU’s dance team. “I thought, what if I went out there and gave it a shot? I figured I would go big or go home.”

McMillan knew a little bit about the audition process for one of the most famous dance squads in the world from watching CMT’s reality show “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.”

But auditions were tougher than she expected.

“Every round was so hard,” McMillan said. “You think it’s going to get easier, but no. Toward the end it’s psychologically, physically and mentally draining. Every night you are worried it’s going to be your last night. Every night you hold your breath and hope Kelli doesn’t say your name.”

Kelli Finglass is the director of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Anyone who has watched the show knows that getting called into Finglass’ office is almost never a good thing.

McMillan got called in during training camp.

She wouldn’t say much about what happenend [sic]; she didn’t want to ruin the surprise for viewers who tune in to the show’s seventh season, which is airing now. “But,” McMillan said, “it wasn’t what I expected. It was good feedback.”

McMillan said it was hard at first to get used to cameras following her every move.

“The first weekend it was really strange,” she said. “I just wanted to not sound silly. But by the next round you start forgetting they are there and you realize it’s about people getting to see your authentic experience. They got a couple of embarrassing shots of me crying my eyes out.”

They were mostly happy tears, like when McMillan found out she was one of 25 rookies who made it into training camp. She immediately hugged her mom.

“I’m proud of her for putting herself out there,” Cassandra McMillan said. “This was a real risk to move out to a brand new city not knowing if she was going to make it. I admire her for being willing to pursue her dreams.”

Making the squad doesn’t mean life is always easy, though. Carisa works two part-time jobs in addition to her part-time gig as a Cowboys cheerleader.

Green Hope roots

For McMillan, the road to Dallas began at Green Hope High School.

She was originally assigned to attend Apex High, which didn’t have a dance team. Her mother requested a transfer.

“I don’t think I would have fallen into this pathway if I wouldn’t have gone to Green Hope,” McMillan said. “It made such a difference in my life.”

Before joining the high school dance team, she had mostly performed solo. She began dancing when she was 3 and went on to dance in a Carolina Ballet production of “The Nutcracker.”

At Green Hope, she learned to appreciate team dancing.

“I loved the energy and atmosphere of team dance,” McMillan said. “I love the team camaraderie.” And now, she loves wearing blue and white.

“You always hear people say they don’t want to take (the uniform) off,” McMillan said. “It’s true.”

Former Cowboys cheerleader Sarah Shahi named ‘TV’s sexiest star’ by Maxim

By Guide Live Group
Dallas News
September 10, 2012

Former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and Euless native Sarah Shahi is Maxim’s October cover model, having been declared “TV’s Sexiest Star” by the men’s magazine.

Shahi, 32, is the star of in the USA drama Fairly Legal, which wrapped up its second season in June. She plays Kate Reed, an unconventional mediator who holds the broken legal system in contempt.

She talked to Maxim about her time as a Cowboys cheerleader: “Everyone knew I wanted to be an actress, so they said, ‘Why don’t you try out for the Cowboys Cheerleaders?’ because back in 1995 they were on Saturday Night Live. So I figured that could be my way in; I tried out just to get on SNL.”

That cheerleading gig led her into an acting career, according to a 2011 interview with Dallas Morning News freelancer David Martindale. She met director Robert Altman, who was using the Cowboys cheerleader rehearsal facilities to shoot a movie, and “he took me under his wing and explained a few things to me. One day he asked me what I wanted to do, and I said, ‘I want to be an actress.’ He said, ‘Then you should move to LA. I think you have what it takes.’ And that’s what I did.”

Not a bad call, since Shahi has landed quite a few prominent supporting roles, including in The Sopranos and Old School, and starring roles in Showtime’s The L Word and NBC’s well-regarded but short-lived police drama, Life, before getting the lead role in Fairly Legal.

Another tidbit from the Maxim interview: Before becoming a Cowboys cheerleader, she admits that she wasn’t much of a Cowboys fan. “You know, I never really paid attention to sports, which, coming from the mecca of football in Texas, is kind of odd,” she admitted.

Cowboys cheerleaders show is back on TV

The TV show “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team” returns to CMT tonight at 9.
Lynn Hoppes

Judy and Kelli eyeball the talent

Judy Trammell, head choreographer for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, said her 36-member troupe doesn’t just love being cheerleaders.

“We live and die by the Cowboys every year. No matter what they do on the field, they are winners in our eyes,” said Trammell, who has been head choreographer since 1991. “You can’t help become so attached to them. They are a part of our lives. But I’m not going to lie: We want to go to the Super Bowl.”

On Friday, Country Music Television will broadcast the start of the seventh season of “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team” at 9 p.m. ET.

Trammell, director Kelli McGonagill Finglass and vice president Charlotte Jones will spend 11 episodes narrowing the field as it heads to the first performance at Cowboys Stadium and an appearance in the swimsuit calendar.

“Our one stipulation for doing the reality TV show is that it has to be real,” Trammell said. “We have a limited time before our first game, so we can’t just perform for the cameras. We have a job to do.”

Trammell said the positives of doing the show are obvious: “It’s good for the girls and good for the brand.”

But there is a downside: “I just don’t like the idea of making cuts on camera. You’re also revealing the real personal lives of these dancers. But that’s just part of doing reality TV. It is what it is.”

It’s tomorrow night, peeps

Photo of the Weekend – September 1 & 2

August 25, 2012 – Emma, a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, preps for pre-game rehearsal.
More pics from this set on the official DCC facebook page.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team : Season 7 Sneak

Former Pacemate Jessica now a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader

Congratulations to three-year Pacemate, native Iowan, and Indiana State grad Jessica for “making the team” as a rookie on the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders!

Separated at birth?

Are my eyes playing tricks on me, or does anyone else see a strong resemblance?

Kinzie (2012) on the left, Andrea (2006) on the right

Step right up and get your “I survived DCC training camp 2012″ t-shirt

Note: the photo of Collin has been corrected. My bad!

Click below to view full size

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Host Camp For Oxnard Youth

Oxnard, Calif.— The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders hosted a camp Sunday [7/28] for local youth of Oxnard, Calif., the host city for Dallas Cowboys Training Camp 2012.


More than 300 young ladies, ages 7 to 18, were able to join in on the world-renown dance team’s Camp DCC at Pacifica High School. Participating youth were pre-selected from local outreach and afterschool programs supported by The Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Clubs, Ventura County Rescue Mission’s Lighthouse for Women and Children, Camp Goalz, Tutor Time and other local cheer teams and academies. Youth representing military families at Point Mugu and Point Hueneme were also invited to participate.

Camp attendees were broken up into age groups and spent the afternoon learning cheers and a dance routine from members of the 2012 DCC squad. Camp participants received a complimentary Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders camp t-shirt, autographs and a very special visit by ROWDY, the official mascot of the Dallas Cowboys. The day ended with campers showing off their routines to parents and friends, and also a special performance by America’s Sweethearts, themselves.

The 2012 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in Oxnard, California

The Dallas Cowboys have come home to California for training camp…Oxnard, California to be precise.  With sunny 70 degree weather and a crisp ocean breeze, one can imagine why the Dallas Cowboys flew half way across the country to train for the upcoming season in the Golden State.  And as fortune would have it, they brought along the “often imitated, never equaled” Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders for Opening Day.

In years past, the opening of training camp was during the weekend and the DCC performed all weekend long in Oxnard, but this year training camp opened on a Monday and that meant fans only had one, brief opportunity to see the DCC perform in all their splendor.  But as I have said in the past, if you get a chance to see the DCC, you should because they are an amazing site to behold.  They are truly an icon of professional cheerleading and wonderful to see in person.

Continue reading The 2012 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in Oxnard, California

Photo of the Day: July 31

2011 Pro Bowl DCC Brittany

Video: Style Secrets of the World Famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders

You Plus Dallas

[Watch the video]

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are the most recognizable professional dance team in the world, which explains the repeated success of their popular TV series, “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team”. Many other teams have tried to copy their success, but no one comes close to the beauty, poise, and enigmatic popularity of America’s Sweethearts. Football has become an nationwide obsession, so the chance to become a famed Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader is as close to hitting the jackpot as a girl can get.

Representing the 50+ year history of the Dallas Cowboys is no easy feat, even with a pretty face and show-stopping moves. Besides being a precision dancer, athlete, lover of all things football, and possessing a bubbly personality, the girls must have style that can stop fans dead in their tracks. YouPlusStyle’s Hilary Kennedy visits the girls during the arduous audition process to get the scoop on their beauty secrets and find out straight from Director Kelli Finglass and Choreographer Judy Trammel what catches their attention when constructing the new team.

You can read more about the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders auditions on the You Plus Dallas Style Blog.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders 2012 Training Camp

By Jay Betsill
June 24, 2012

DALLAS — Following the preliminary and semifinal auditions the first weekend in May and the finals auditions two weeks later, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders welcomed the remaining 45 candidates to their 2012 training camp. The training camp, which will run through the summer, will determine which of the ladies earns one of the coveted spots with America’s Sweethearts.

We recently attended a training camp practice session — with CMT filming the upcoming season of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, — at the South Side Music Hall inside Gilley’s Dallas. Gilley’s was chosen to give the ladies a different setting to perform their routines away from their studio at Valley Ranch or the field at Cowboys Stadium.

Photo Gallery: Pics 06.20.12: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders training camp at Gilley’s

Prior to taking the stage, the ladies were separated into four groups mixed with returning veterans clad in navy blue attire and the incoming hopefuls wearing a hot pink uniform. The newcomers were lined up at the front of the stage with their routines critiqued under the watchful eyes of DCC Director Kelli Finglass and choreographer Judy Trammell.

In addition to learning the new dances, the rookies are quickly adapting to the time demands of becoming a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. Kelsey Lauren has a full-time job that she leaves at 5 p.m. every day to head to Valley Ranch for practice at 7 p.m. “I actually got in a car accident last week. During my drive, I mentally transition from work to practice and the stop and go traffic is tough,” she said. “But I still made it to practice on time and that was all that mattered.”

The veterans may actually have it tougher than the rookies because they know what’s at stake and what they have to lose. “Training camp is a competitive atmosphere,” said returning veteran Lauren Williams. “You are competing to keep yourself in the game and keep your own spot.”

With the CMT cameras rolling, the cheerleaders are not the only ones who must deal with pressure. Finglass and Trammell are in charge of putting together the best possible group of women to ensure the DCC remains the standard for which every other squad is measured.

“I think the cutting process has become harder for me over the years,” said Finglass, who is putting together her 22nd squad. “There are very serious conversations. I am more mature in my career now, I’m a mom and I have more traffic going on in my head about breaking hearts than when I was 25 years old.”

You can see the dreams come true and the broken hearts when the seventh season of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team premieres on CMT on Sept. 7. The show has become so popular that this season will expand from eight episodes to 13 weeks of behind the scenes with the DCC.

Another TCU showgirl is a finalist for Dallas Cowboys cheerleader spot

A few weeks ago, I posted an article about Jordan Daigle, an alum of Texas Christian University’s dance team, the Showgirls. Jordan made it into the 2012 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders training camp. The article below is about Jordan’s former TCU teammate Kelsey, who is also a training camp candidate this year.

Cheerleader chat with Kelsey Lauren, a former TCU Showgirl and finalist for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders
The Big Mac Blog
June 12, 2012

Name: Kelsey Lauren
Age: 23
From: Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Lives: Fort Worth
Alma mater: TCU, degree in PR/advertising
Profession: Marketing for a law firm in Fort Worth
Favorite movie: Heavyweights, with Ben Stiller. Oceans 11
Favorite song: Anything by Taylor Swift
Favorite place visited: Istanbul, Turkey
Where do you want to go next?: The Taj Mahal in India
No. 1 on your bucket list: Travel to every country.
Favorite book: I just finished The Hunger Games series and really enjoyed it.
Favorite place to eat in Fort Worth: Tim Love’s Loveshack

The Big Mac Blog: How old were you when you started dancing and performing?
Kelsey Lauren: Pretty much my whole life. I grew up doing this. I danced in high school, and one of the reasons I went to TCU was to do Showgirls.

The Big Mac Blog: Most embarrassing moment performing?
Kelsey Lauren: One time during a routine my top came undone. I felt it coming loose and I had to re-tie it during the routine. It was really embarrassing.

The Big Mac Blog: Was it during a TCU football or basketball game?
Kelsey Lauren: A basketball game.

The Big Mac Blog: So nobody saw it?
Kelsey Lauren: This is true

The Big Mac Blog: Ever been injured during a routine?
Kelsey Lauren: Twisted my ankle a few times. Sorry I’m so boring.

The Big Mac Blog: How did you go about pursuing the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders?
Kelsey Lauren: After graduating from college I found out that I really missed it in the year off. I missed the adrenaline from performing. I missed dance so I sought this. This is the next step.

The Big Mac Blog: What is this process like?
Kelsey Lauren: It starts with prelims with about 500 or 600 girls. Then it’s down to 80 for the finals. Then you compete against the other veterans, and you do a solo routine and do the kick line with the rest of the squad. Then they cut it down to 50. Now there are 42 of us left. They don’t say what the final number is going to be. We could be cut between now and any time before the first game. You find out of the day of the squad photo if you’ve made it.

The Big Mac Blog: You feel more pressure doing this than any other previous performances?
Kelsey Lauren: Yes. You know every move is covered by the media, or a camera. Every move is broadcast so it makes it a lot more nerve wracking. It has been really tough emotionally and physically, but it is a lot of fun.

The Big Mac Blog: Have you thought about the possibility of making it this far and maybe not making the final cut?
Kelsey Lauren: Yes, and I do think if I don’t make it it will be really hard. That just means this chapter in my life needs to close and I’ll need to continue down my career path. If I make it, that means I completed this dream I do have. Since I came to Texas all I heard about was the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. I went to my first Cowboys game when I was a freshman and I said, ‘I want to be a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader’.