Before the football season commences, we perfect our pregame routine, four quarter changes, touchdown-deck choreography and sideline tags (little dances we can do to house music during the timeouts and between plays). Much of the material is taught during training camp, but translating the studio dancing to yard lines still takes practice!
I always have a sharpie on me when we set a new routine at the stadium. Seeing a DCC with numbers written on her arm is not uncommon. More than once last year, I went to school, where I taught ESL, with long sleeves because the sharpie would not come off despite incessant exfoliation.
We all have little tricks to memorize our formations because you have to be aware of your depth on the field (ie. across from the back of the goal post) and your spacing (specific yard lines). Judy is liable to call your name after finishing a dance and, for example, ask what yard line you’re on for the tight triangle or the big circles. She is constantly juggling numbers and balancing the cheerleaders on either side of the field, so we have to be aware and remain tuned in at all times.
The mechanics of our contributions during the pregame program is also fine-tuned. We practice hitting our yard lines for the “V” formation during the player introduction and the lines for the national anthem. The rookies get a huge amount of information before the first game and practicing all of this is crucial to making game day a success. The exact program changes from game to game, but we always have the basic formations memorized and adjust accordingly if anyone steps out last minute due to injuries.
After the national anthem we race to our respective touchdown decks with the intention of starting with our music! On game day, however, this is a gamble because routes to the decks may be blocked or the music may start early if the coin toss is before the anthem. Either way, the race to those decks is fun and exhilarating and greeting the fans as soon as you step on it is surreal.
The night before our first home game we have a stadium dress rehearsal called “Family and Friends,” where the cheerleaders can invite guests to come watch. Not only does this night give us a chance to geographically map-out where we will be dancing during a game, but it also gives those close to us a chance to see us from the prime seats behind the 50-yard line.
We run everything we do during the game full-out and back to back. It’s so tiring but so much fun because our closest supporters are our only audience. All of the girls are excited to show off what they have been working on every night, all summer.
After the routines are finished, everyone is welcome on the field for photos and introductions. This is where many of the parents get to meet their daughters’ new best friends. The most common phrase is “Wow, I didn’t realize how much you did during a game!” or “Ooo, you are really sweaty.” Yes, we are all drenched after this rehearsal, but the newbies know the days in Texas Stadium were far hotter, and personally, I don’t know how the cheerleaders did it!
Once “Family and Friends” is over, it’s on to the first preseason home game and then we will officially be in full swing with specific games coming up for which to prepare.
Love & Cowboys Cheers!