DCC Group Leader Roundtable: Making History at The Smithsonian
The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders made history on February 26th at The Smithsonian in Washington D.C. when DCC uniforms and other DCC artifacts were officially donated to The National Museum of American History.
The four current DCC group leaders who represented the squad were Jenna, Jinelle, Lacey and KaShara. On the flight home from Washington, D.C. they took time to reflect on the historic day for the Dallas Cowboys and share their feelings about representing America’s Team in the nation’s capital.
DCC Group Leader Roundtable Discussion:
JENNA: “Today was such an incredible experience. Being on the team for six years and knowing how hard it is to earn the right to wear this uniform — even for a short period of time — it’s amazing. It was really special to be part of the ceremony in which our uniforms were donated to The Smithsonian.”
KASHARA: “I think it’s because today represented so much more than the uniform, it represented all the individuals who have worn it and worked so hard and sacrificed to wear it. To me it represented how important we as women are in this day and age and how far we’ve come and where we’re going. It was even more special to experience this historic day with my best friends and be part of such an amazing moment in Dallas Cowboys’ history.”
LACEY: “That’s how I feel, too. Even after four full seasons on the squad, every time I put on the uniform I can honestly say that I realize that I’m representing all the women who paved the way for the current squad. I also feel like I’m representing all the women who have ever auditioned and dreamed of wearing this uniform. I can’t take this for granted because one day I’ll have to turn the uniform back in. It’s important to soak-up every minute and enjoy every opportunity to wear the uniform. I remind myself, ‘Hey, you made this team, everything you put into it has paid off, so make it count and make everyone proud.’ This uniform is iconic and it’s prestigious.”
JINELLE: “Honestly, I had to keep pinching myself because it was so surreal to be part of a history-making event. The whole experience, being with my fellow group leaders and representing our team, sitting alongside remarkable people at the ceremony like Paula Van Wagoner (fashion designer, DCC uniform) and Lisa Dobson (seamstress, DCC uniform) who are legends and now official history-makers, this has been the most incredible journey.”
For three of you, this visit to The Smithsonian was your first trip to Washington, D.C. KaShara, who visited D.C. for her high school’s senior trip, is the only one of you that had ever previously visited The National Museum of American History. That’s really neat that for Jenna, Lacey and Jinelle, the first time you ever walked intot
he museum you were making literally history as part of a dedication ceremony attended by the museum’s director (John Gray) and associate curator (Jane Rogers).
JENNA: “That’s right, this was my first trip to Washington, D.C. which is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. To see The Smithsonian and the Capitol and all the monuments, I already had a fascination with history and museums. To get a behind-the-scenes tour of the sports & entertainment section of the National Museum of American History was really, really cool. We saw so many wonderful things.”
Other than the DCC artifacts, what were your favorite items that you saw during the behind-the-scenes tour?
JENNA: “I think the coolest item the curator showed was the full Scarecrow costume from The Wizard of Oz. Oh, and the Muppets! I’ve watched them on television and movies my whole life, so to actually see the real puppets was pretty incredible. And now our DCC uniform is considered ‘iconic’ just like those items. Something that has been part of my life, that uniform, is part of American history. It’s incredible, really, because we’re normal girls. We wear this uniform with pride. But once you’re on the squad, it’s part of your everyday life. So this ceremony was a great reminder of the importance of the DCC and what we represent.”
And I think it’s okay to admit that it was really cool to fly on the Cowboys’ executive jet to-and-from Washington, D.C.!
LACEY: “This was my first time to not only fly in the Cowboys’ executive jet but also to visit Washington, D.C. To be taken on the tour by the curator was very cool. And it meant a lot to each of us as group leaders to represent the whole team. We had challenges this year, but we overcame them and this was a great trip to validate the fact that hard work always pays off. Having the whole organization come together and fly together to D.C. has been one of those ‘Wow’ Top 5 Moments in my years with the DCC.”
There may be some long-time Dallas Cowboys fans who don’t realize that each cheerleader must earn her uniform the same way that rookie Cowboys’ players earn the blue star on their helmets. Nothing is handed to you, you have to earn it following a long summer of Training Camp.
JINELLE: “That’s true. And it’s not just the rookies. Every single year, returning DCC veterans have to earn their uniform. We have to re-audition every spring and go through Training Camp each summer for the right to wear the uniform in the coming football season. It’s a grueling process. But the uniform is like the gold medal that you get at the end of the process, sort of like the Olympics. The uniform is the prize you get after putting in so much hard work and preparation.
“I remember my rookie year the first time I tried on the uniform. And it’s just the fabric. You don’t get the stars yet. It’s not the belt buckle or the fancy accessories. It’s just the fabric and you’re getting sized. You put it on and it’s like a dream come true. I will never forget the first time I put it on, even though it didn’t have the stars.
You earn the stars when you make the final team. I still get tingles. I have goosebumps right now just remembering that first time I put on the uniform.”
LACEY: “I had a funny thing happen during the initial fitting my rookie year in 2014. All the rookie hopefuls finally go to try on the uniform. It was such an exciting day and we weren’t thinking straight because we were so excited and emotional. My fellow rookie, Melissa, and I were paired for our call-time for our fitting. We were together and we were so excited. I starting putting on all the different parts of the uniform and I said, ‘Melissa, what’s wrong with this? It doesn’t look right?’ And she said, ‘Well, you put on the white vest before the blue blouse! You’re missing the blue, the big part of the uniform!’ (laughter from the three other group leaders)
“I had put everything on backwards and inside-out! It was all wrong (more laughter!). I didn’t put the blouse on before the vest, so no wonder it didn’t look right! Thankfully Melissa helped me out before I walked in front of Lisa (Dobson, seamstress) and Kelli (Finglass, DCC director). But it was good to get all those rookie mistakes out of the way! It was a good laugh before it all started.”
It’s crazy that Lacey nearly messed-up her first uniform fitting as a rookie because KaShara also had a mishap during Training Camp with the DCC practice uniform. What happened that first night of camp during your rookie season, KaShara?
KaShara: “Yes, I’m the small-town girl from eastern Kentucky who wore the wrong outfit on the first night of DCC Training Camp my rookie year (2015). That was shown on CMT’s Making the Team television show. Everyone reminds me about it! (more laughter!!!) Yes, I know I wore the wrong outfit! I’m very aware of it because they show it every year on TV. But my story is relatable to people. I didn’t expect to make the team, but it’s been a great journey.”
All’s well that ends well, right? The rookie who messed up her first night of DCC Training Camp in 2015 is our 2018 DCC Pro Bowl cheerleader! So, yes, it has been a fun journey! It’s interesting because each of you, in this interview or in other interviews throughout your careers, has used the word “journey” to describe your time with the DCC.
For KaShara, the journey was from Kentucky to Texas. Lacey is one of the ‘locals’ on the current squad (Southlake, Texas) but it’s been a remarkable climb from 18-year old rookie to veteran group leader. Jenna, your journey started in Orange County, California with a detour to the Far East, right?
JENNA: “Yes, for me specifically, it’s been a long journey. I first saw the DCC when I was living with my family on a military base in Korea. The DCC came on USO Tours and led cheer camps each December during the holidays for the youth on the base. The squad members individually encouraged me to try out for the DCC, saying things like ‘You should come to Dallas to audition!’
“When I was 18 and graduated from the high school on the base, my mom and I flew to Dallas and I auditioned. I have been in Dallas ever since and just finished my sixth NFL season. I went from an 18-year old rookie to one of the veterans. To come to Washington D.C. to represent our squad as a group leader, it was an honor.”
And Jinelle’s journey was from Australia to America’s Team…and ultimately to the National Museum of American History. That is very cool! Who would have ever predicted an Aussie would represent America’s Sweethearts in Washington, D.C.!?!?
JINELLE: “I truly mean it when I say this — and it goes for every time I put on the uniform – it really is an honor and such a privilege. Every single lady on our team is so thankful and so grateful. We know this uniform represents more than us and we hope to continue to do our best to make everyone proud and continue to live up to the reputation that’s been created.