By Jay Betsill
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.
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.