Tuesday, November 11, 2008
By Toby Smith
[Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders]
Three cheers for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
Even in the nastiest weather they're out there, dancing furiously, smiling like open windows, every one of them wearing a square foot's worth of clothing.
All that kicking began in 1971, just as the phrase America's Team took off. The outfits — short shorts, low tops and Nancy Sinatra go-go boots — quickly drew attention.
The leggy ladies are still the subject of sports bar banter and, yes, ribald jokes. Fending off the jibes, basking in semi-fame, looked up to by little girls, DCC, as the franchise is known, goes on. If there's a more celebrated pep squad, we don't know it.
How do you get to be a DCC? You shake your hiney off, honey. Each year, hundreds are called, only 36 chosen. This year, a New Mexico woman is among the select few to decorate Texas Stadium. The folks who run DCC are too busy to look this sort of stuff up, but they say she may be the only one ever from this state. The Journal recently talked by telephone with Jordan Chanley, a 22-year-old native of Hobbs.
Q: Were you always a cheerleader?
A: Oh, yes. In eighth and ninth grades I cheered for the Highland Junior High School Bears. And then for the Hobbs High School Eagles. Hobbs is a big Cowboys town. I never went to games, but when I was 4 I was a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader on Halloween. I wore a darling little store-bought costume.
Q: Did you cheer in college?
A: I went to Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas. They had a football team, but I concentrated on my studies. I wanted to be a teacher.
Q: I guess you got sidetracked.
A: I did. When I was a senior in Waxahachie, which is about 45 minutes from Dallas, I saw an ad for Kitty Carter's dance studio. She was a former Cowboys cheerleader. She told me all about trying out. She helped me with my solos and she was so blunt.
Q: Blunt how?
A: She wanted me to be less peppy and cutesy. She said, "You got to add some wow to your dancing, some pop." She pretty much said, "Be sexier."
Q: Did this embarrass you?
A: She said, "You got the look and the body. You need to show 'em what you got."
Q: What were the tryouts like?
A: They were held at Texas Stadium, in early May. Friday and Saturday were the prelims. Four-hundred girls tried out, but they had 1,000 applications. If we got through prelims, we had callbacks and returned the next Saturday, for the finals.
Q: After the finals, what then?
A: It was on to training camp all summer, where girls kept getting cut.
Q: So this was like a boot camp?
A: It was. This year, five veterans got cut. Why? Maybe DCC knew something they'd done. Or maybe their weight was an issue. They are always weighing us.
Q: How much do you weigh?
A: I'm 5-7 and I weigh 126 pounds.
Q: So you lasted through boot camp?
A: On Aug. 4, they called me in and told me I had made it. It was like a dream.
Q: What's a usual week like?
A: We only do home games. We practice every day and they change the routines for each game. At games, we're divided into four groups. We dance the entire game.
Q: Is the DCC strict?
A: We have this huge rule book. We're not allowed to fraternize with the players. You always have to look nice, even if you're going to the grocery store. You have to be a role model. And you have to be nicely manicured for autographs.
Q: What happens if you gain weight?
A: They'll put you on a weight warning. Your weight will be (posted) in red. Before every game they weigh us. To be honest, none of these girls look skinny. That uniform, though, it can really break you. Those little shorts, even 3 pounds show up.
Q: You have a church background. How do you square that with the skimpy clothing?
A: It may be a revealing outfit, but it's the second most recognized sports uniform, behind the New York Yankees. So, really I'm proud to wear it.
Q: How much are you paid to be a cheerleader?
A: I can't discuss that, but it's not a lot. We get paid for personal appearances and games and we get benefits like free tanning and hair salon visits. They want you to work while you're a Cheerleader, but I can't teach and cheer; it would be too hard.
[Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders]