Sunday, January 20, 2008
By Suzanne Loudmay
The Cowboys' loss on Sunday could be blamed on many people but not on Sarah Shelton. She was in her place cheering her heart out for the boys in the silver and blue. She was just where she saw herself being someday, way back in the seventh grade, on the sidelines of Texas Stadium, all decked out in the famous white shorts and vest blazon with blue stars. Miss Sarah Shelton is a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader.
Shelton is proof-positive that setting a goal and doing whatever it takes to get there, is a good plan. This 19-year-old young lady had a dream and let nothing get in her way of seeing that plan into a reality.
For 11 years, this Whitehouse girl danced every inch of floor in Candy Crocker's dance studio. She took tap, jazz, hip hop and just about everything else that was offered.
"I watched my dance teacher's daughter when she was a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader and dreamed of being like her someday," Shelton said.
Even at that tender age, Shelton knew that dreaming was not going to get her where she wanted to be. She knew that it required her to be the best dancer, the most energetic, the most genuine person she could possibly be and she knew she could not get there alone.
With the help of her parents, Rebecca and Terry Shelton, and 20-year-old brother Jeremy, Sarah began the journey that would lead her to big D and all that that entails.
Tryouts were in April of 2007. This was right in the middle of Shelton's senior year of high school. Without missing a beat, she made it through the tr yout experience and moved on, with 42 other talented girls, to the DCC training camp. This camp took her to Dallas every day after school throughout the month of May.
"On days that I needed to study a lot or had lots of homework, one of my parents or my brother would drive me so I could get it done along the way," Shelton said. "There were even times that my dance teacher, Candy Jordan, would get me there."
After an entire day of high school, two hours to Dallas, three and a half hours of practice and two hours back home, she would rest and start all over again.
This went on five days a week for an entire month.
Again, that drive and dedication took her through it all with great success all the way around.
High school graduation came for Shelton on June 2 and the next day she was moving in with a family member in Dallas. The practice continued.
"Every day you are being judged," Shelton said. "Cuts were made during training camp too."
The final squad of 38 was chosen on July 28 and that's a day Shelton says she'll never forget.
The years of preparation and commitment to a dream had paid off.
"Other than the day of the announcement of the final squad, my most exciting day has been that first pre-season game when I danced out on the turf of Texas Stadium," Shelton said as her voice cracked a little. "I was a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader!"
The work has not stopped. Practice continues five nights a week from 7 to 10:30 p.m., sometimes more depending on the events of the week.
Shelton says the most rewarding part of her position with the DCC is that they get the opportunity to visit children in the hospital.
"I am so grateful to the Lord for His blessings," Shelton said. "I'm so blessed to have this opportunity."
"I have made life-long friends here and will continue to mature and grow while I'm with the organization."
She may be young, but she already gained such wisdom through this process. Shelton asked to share these words:
"No matter your goal, no matter your age, don't make any excuses," she said. "Do what you can to achieve your goal. If it doesn't work out, it wasn't in God plan for you. You'll regret not trying."
With the Cowboys' season over, the cheerleaders will continue their work and appearances and Shelton is looking forward to it all.
"A year ago I was a senior in high school," she said. "Here I am now, in college, working part-time, living in Dallas and I'm a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. WOW!"