At 17, with big and badly frosted hair, clear braces, wearing lime green Reeboks, I stood in front of my macro economics class during my freshman year of college in Southeast Kansas boldly introducing myself as a future Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. Eight years and a good dye job later, on my first audition attempt at the ripe age of 25, my dream was realized in 1995; and after five dizzying seasons, I appreciatively bowed out.
Every DCC has her supportive circle. Mine began and ended with my husband, Joel. A former Division I football player, he cut carbs when I did, worked out and ran with me, did the mother load of smelly game day laundry and even gave tofu a try in the summer of 1996. He wore his #12 jersey and traveled to Super Bowl XXX, Pro Bowl 2001 and danced the hand jive as my partner during the GREASE halftime during the 1997 season. So, when it came time to turn my boots in, we were both disheartened and relieved. DCC had been a tandem goal for both of us the majority of our relationship.
At current, we still work out and run together although I chalked up four more knee surgeries and drink more real Coke. But like most couples, we have our differences. I thoroughly enjoy being on stage and with the professional training I received, transitioning from Texas Stadium to equity scaled theater was smooth. Looking back on my DCC years, some of my fondest memories are with children through Camp DCC and the Junior DCC program. So, it surprises few that I gave up 60 hour weeks as a software engineer for a major telecommunications company to direct a private, Christian school in Atlanta. Working with children is my way of staying on stage with a sometimes deafening yet captive audience. Kids enjoy that I embody the holidays by dressing in costume, and they embrace my love of all things shiny, sparkly and tacky.
As a DCC, you’re too busy simply being a DCC. The pleasure in the experience comes when crossing over to alumni status and one has time to reflect and count the numerous blessings. My DCC journey cultivated parts of my core personality and spirit that I did not know existed within me at the time. I just hope the organization, its fan base and every lady I cheered with fully realizes how grateful I am.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned?
Cindi: Kelli McGonagill Finglass and Judy Trammell showed me how to look at everything differently. For example, while in Bosnia during my rookie year and first Christmas tour, Kelli took a focused, motherly look at the red shift dress I wore while singing “Santa Baby.” Minutes before curtain, I was backstage frantically sewing gold garland that she magically found somewhere in the hotel around my neckline with my dollar-store-travel-sized sewing kit.
Plus, Judy is the only person in the world that knows how to turn a shower curtain into a jaw dropping prop for Show Group’s version of “Purple Rain” for the infamous Prince Medley. I try to emulate, recreate and fold this kind of unique, out of the box thinking into my current profession of working with young children.
If you could have one thing from when you were a Cheerleader, what would it be and why?
Cindi: …one more night in the locker room! I grew exponentially as a direct result of every relationship I made as a cheerleader. I benefited from the therapy-like harmony experienced before and after rehearsals as we talked about our day or weekend, school stresses, boyfriend or husband issues, employment troubles, hair and nail trauma, financial problems, or just how darn tired we were on any given night.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were a DCC?
Cindi: Fat free cheese is not good for you.