As I’m pulling into Valley Ranch for what must be at least the 600th time over the past three years, I get an overwhelming rush of nerves and butterflies. While it’s totally normal to have these feelings every time you step into the DCC Studio (yes, every single time. In fact, I would argue it’s cause for concern if you were completely relaxed going in!), this sensation was particularly overcoming. For this was the first official practice of Training Camp.
I’ve experienced Training Camp a time or two. Well, technically three. I’ve been a Training Camp Candidate twice, having been cut on the last night of camp my first go-round. But I persevered, returned and made the team after my second try. Now I’m going into my third season as a DCC and beginning my fourth Training Camp. You’d think it would be as easy as pie at this point; jump splits, 30-plus dance routines, kick line … piece of cake, right? Ha, hardly. Nothing about being internationally acclaimed is a cakewalk.
Training Camp is no bake sale.
While it is certainly different going into Training Camp as a DCC compared to a TCC, the amount of work (and sometimes nerves) is still the same. It’s only shifted. We learned the dances, but now we need to perform and sell it. We know all the rules, and now we have to exemplify them. We are aware of the prominence that comes with the uniform, now we are expected to uphold it. We know the legacy and tradition, we want to continue it. And there is always the notion that no position on the team is ever guaranteed.
But that is what makes the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders world-renown. The standard of excellence is not forgiven to anyone. Whether you are going into your seventh season as one of America’s Sweethearts or pursuing the famed 15 stars for the first time, the expectations are to be nothing less. As a rookie, dedication, ethics and responsibility are instilled instantly. As a veteran, complacency, assumptions and exceptions are never pondered. You are who your rookies become. It is this mentality that keeps the team in top form, and Training Camp is where the groundwork is laid. Oh, and not to mention the weeks and months of kicking, stretching, dancing, dieting, training … you get the idea! Who needs lounging and carbs? This is Training Camp!
Yet, the experience creates a bond bigger than sisterhood. It’s almost ironic how you’ll look back at all the hard work and realize that you made the best memories and had some of the greatest times ever throughout the experience of Training Camp. I wouldn’t trade all the sweat, tears and cheers for a cakewalk.
Funny how that works.
So whether you’re viewing it on television as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team fan or witnessing it first hand as a DCC hopeful, when Kelli approaches that podium in the always anticipated first meeting at the beginning of Training Camp, and she says with a beaming smile and excited expression, “Welcome to Training Camp!” We can all only imagine what is in store!