By Rande Archer
It’s a long way to the top if you want to cheer and dance for NFL’s Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Considered one of the best cheer squads in the country, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (DCC) are also one of the most recognizable. Dazzling audiences with an array of dances and their world famous uniforms, the DCC have garnered a reputation for being one of the best and one of the hardest.
Starting with auditions this year in May, several hundred girls from around the world made the trip to the AT&T Stadium in Dallas to give a shot at becoming one of the DCC. Beginning with tryouts, their numbers slowly dwindled from the hundreds to 36 cheerleaders, and one of Baton Rouge’s own has made it.
Hailing from her hometown of Gonzales, latest Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Jaclyn has made the DCC cut. Coming right out college at LSU and into DCC auditions, Jaclyn previously danced with the LSU Golden Girl dance squad. This transition according to her has been equally challengingly and unreal.
“First of all I have to remind myself that this is real life and that I am officially a DCC,” said Jaclyn. “It’s such an amazing opportunity and one that does not happen for a lot of women. Therefore, it seems a little unreal at the time that I have been one of the chosen. Overall, I feel extremely blessed and so thankful to be a member of this team. I know that I have worked hard, but I could not have done this without the support of my faith, family and friends.”
One of the differences between the two squads has been the dance style for Jaclyn. According to Jaclyn the Golden Girls dance squad style have more jazz elements, whereas the DCC has a mixture of pom, jazz, and hip-hop that melds into a style called “Power Pom” that is used in addition to the iconic kick line.
“I really had to get used to making my performance skills bigger, sexier and more fun to watch than ever,” said Jaclyn. “Making the transition took some work, but I feel as though it has made me a better and more versatile dancer.”
The skills required by the DCC were definitely something Jaclyn didn’t anticipate.
“Being a DCC, in particular, is definitely A LOT harder than I anticipated,” said Jaclyn. “Not only does it take a lot of skill and athleticism to learn 50 dances, perform with personality without showing fatigue, kick with precision and nail that jump split, but there is also a mental toughness that has to be developed. Every practice during training camp was a test to see if you had what it took to cheer for the Cowboys. Everyone had to be mentally prepared to hear the good, the bad and the ugly while not letting it affect your performance.”
Growing up in a dance studio, Jaclyn has been involved with cheerleading and dancing since the age of four. Beginning with mini-camps, Jaclyn trained to cheer since the age of six and eventually danced with her high-school Alma Mater’s dance squad.
“What really inspired me most was being a part of a team,” said Jaclyn. “I love the aspect of girls and young women being brought together by a similar passion for dance or cheer and developing relationships, skills, and enthusiasm in support of their school or organization. Therefore, once I left LSU I knew I needed to find another team to become a part of.”
Being used to a busy lifestyle, Jaclyn has adjusted well becoming a DCC. However, the difference now than before is the distance.
“The obvious change to my personal life is now being 7.5 hours from home,” said Jaclyn. “Which means being far from my family, friends and, of course, the boyfriend. Thank goodness for FaceTime. Besides that aspect, I have had to do a lot of time managing between working to keep in shape and ready for DCC rehearsals as well as keeping a job to support myself. I spend my time working out, eating healthy, practicing routines, teaching dance, coaching a dance team, and working in an office all outside of DCC rehearsals, appearances and games. Luckily, I am completely used to this type of schedule because it is how I have always lived; I like staying busy. My planner is immaculate.”
Although being involved with dance and cheerleading since an early age, Jaclyn never saw herself becoming an NFL cheerleader let alone a DCC until fairly recently.
“In all honesty, I could not picture myself on the sidelines cheering for a professional football team until I got closer to the end of training camp,” said Jaclyn. “This has not been a life-long goal of mine, but within the last couple of years it became a dream I really wanted to achieve. Going into auditions in May, my goal was just to make it to finals the following weekend. I kept thinking if I could make it to finals I would be proud of myself, and if it was not meant to be then, God would have another plan for me. By mid-July, I came to the realization that there were only a few more cuts to be made and that there was a greater possibility I could be cheering for the Cowboys.”
Jaclyn hopes to use these skills in the future to train the next generation of dancers and cheerleaders.
“Being that the DCC style is very different from anything I have ever done, I am hoping to master this style and add it to my repertoire of dance,” said Jaclyn. “I want to one day use my new skills and knowledge for professional cheerleading to help others become professional cheerleaders as well.”
With the regular NFL season starting shortly, Jaclyn is excited to be on the sidelines cheering.
“I am most excited for the season opener against the Giants,” said Jaclyn. “I can’t wait to experience the full energy and enthusiasm from Cowboys Stadium on game day against one of their conference rivals.”