Jada McLean: From Aggie to Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader

Jada McLean: From Aggie to Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader

As a child, Jada McLean pretended to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader for her family’s enjoyment.

She was a fan of “America’s Team” but never had the chance to see the Cowboys in person.

Witten, Ware and Romo — they were just characters on the TV screen for her. The idea of ​​joining the Dallas Cheerleaders, the most famous dance team in sports history, must have seemed light years away instead of the actual 1,200 miles that separated the Cowboys’ Texas digs from McLean’s hometown of Palm Springs.

Fast forward to August 2020.

McLean found herself at AT&T Stadium, hoping to rise to the occasion when she was presented with the iconic Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders uniform: that lace-up crop top, white Lucchese cowboy boots, fringe vest, crystal belt.

At that point, McLean (a two-year member of the UC Davis Dance Team) was trying out for the Cowboys in front of a national audience. CMT’s long-running reality show, “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team” was in its 15th season.

When the initial hard work was over, McLean began living her little girl’s dream.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect to make it past the first round,” reports McLean. “They’re looking for good dancers, but they also want someone who can talk to people. There are so many factors and I didn’t know if I had the whole package they were looking for, but I tried and hoped for the best.”

In joining DCC, McLean continues a recent tradition of Aggie Dance Team alumni moving on to the professional ranks.

Moira Niesman, a 2012 International Relations graduate, enjoyed five years as a member of the Sacramento Kings Dancers.

That same year, Giselle Ross joined the famed Raiderettes after earning a degree in political science from UC Davis. Recently, Rachel LeBrett joined the Raiderettes while continuing to work as a consultant for the university’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The opportunity for McLean, a third-year animal science student, to even throw her proverbial hat into the DCC ring came as a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a normal year, the Cowboys hold open tryouts in late spring, and hopefuls must travel to Arlington for auditions.

This is a gamble for anyone outside the area, as she could pay the cost of a flight to the Lone Star State, only to be shortchanged on that first day.

On the other hand, if a rookie passes the first round, she comes back a week later, which means more scheduling coordination, another flight, another hotel room, and so on. For McLean specifically, a DCC tryout would mean missing school and/or her team’s annual Dance Showcase.

However, in 2020, the nationwide lockdown forced the Cowboys to hold their first round of auditions online. Dancers could submit their initial submissions — videos and photos — from the comfort of their homes. No plane tickets, no hotels.

In short, there was no longer any practical reason for McLean to turn down the opportunity to follow his dream.

How well McLean presented herself outside of dance was key, both in the early stages and during the media day portion of training camp. Members of this fan team become important representatives of the franchise in public.

This aspect was not new to McLean, as the UC Davis Dance Team has long served as an ambassador for the Aggie athletic department. They appear in the community alongside — or sometimes, instead of — UC Davis student-athletes throughout the year.

Last year, a suspension due to COVID sent McLean home to Southern California, which strangely opened up another opportunity: It meant she had permanent access to her old dance studio, a Cathedral City venue called The Dance Program.

Keep in mind that most gyms and dance studios are completely closed during the spring of 2020. But not for Jada: her mother has owned The Dance Program since 2016. So while most budding hopefuls were recording in garages and backyards, McLean had her own home studio as a scenography for your audition video, with appropriate sound systems, appropriate floors and mirrors available.

The Cowboys’ record 1,545 candidate list was whittled down to just 69 candidates, and then that group went through additional rounds of interviews and demonstrations.

McLean received a video file from DCC, trained herself to learn the different steps, and then performed the dances on video in real time. In the end, a group of 20 rookies earned a trip to the DCC training camp and the right to compete for one of the 36 fan spots.

After announcing the good news on social media, Jada went radio silent.

It turned out to be her last mention of DCC for the past six months: before leaving for camp, she and her family had signed a non-disclosure agreement. The series “The Making The Team” only started airing in November, and not a single member of the training camp could reveal any part of her DCC fate, so as not to spoil the show for the television audience.

It was only after the season finale aired this month that McLean was free to share her experience.

“Because this was my dream, I wanted to tell literally everyone I knew,” McLean recalls. “It was hard to decide who I could trust to tell and who I couldn’t.” “It was difficult, but it was worth it. We couldn’t share the news … we had to wait for the show.

“And when the show finally ended, our season was already over. But it taught me to live in the moment. I wasn’t as worried about posting on social media or talking to fans who messaged me. I have to enjoy my debut season without worrying about additional distractions.”

The 2020 camp was held at the Gaylord Texan Hotel in Arlington, dubbed “The Bubble” in the series. Only during a short visit to AT&T Stadium did the entire group arrive for rehearsal as a whole – all the dancers, who maintained social distance the entire time, had to undergo daily testing for COVID-19.

And make no mistake, the term “rookie” is a gross misnomer: every one of the 20 first-year candidates had extensive dance experience. Sydney Hawthorne is a former Atlanta Falcons cheerleader and was even named as the team’s Pro Bowl representative. Sheridan McDowell was already a member of the Dallas Mavericks dance team and appeared on the 11th season of “Making The Team”. Among McLean’s Group 1 teammates was Alora-Rose Morgan, who left Connecticut at 18 to pursue dancing in New York and then joined the Radio City Rockettes.

The camp is run by Kelli Finglass, a TCU graduate and former 1980s team member who took the helm of DCC in 1991. She previously described tryouts as “the toughest, most physically demanding audition in the entire entertainment industry.”

McLean began her dance career at the age of three. She later starred in track and field at Palm Springs High, winning multiple Desert Valley League titles and advancing to the Southern Section Division 3 championships in the 100 and 300-yard hurdles.

During this time, McLean expanded her dance repertoire to include hip hop, jazz, modern, lyrical, tap and swing, but was not introduced to the so-called “pom style” until she joined the UCD Dance Team.

“I never held a pair of pompoms before I started college,” says McLean. “I remember struggling my first summer before I started at Davis. We had our own little version of training camp. I thought there was no hope for me. I didn’t know how to hit the positions they were trying to teach me and hold the pom-poms at the same time. But after two years, I felt confident, and the UC Davis Dance Team was the one that prepared me.”

However, the key turning point occurred in the middle of the camp. McLean and another newcomer, Ashlinn, were invited to participate in a private session with Melissa Rycroft, DCC showmanship coach, “Bachelor” veteran and “Dancing With the Stars” season 15 winner.

Along with veteran cheerleader Caroline Sundvold, Rycroft warned McLean on the show:

“The huge thing you’re waiting for, being so tall and beautiful, all eyes will be on you. Which is great and scary at the same time. But that means you have to be on time (in your routines), all the time.”

While Ashlinn expressed concern that the one-on-one session was a bad sign of their progress, the 5-foot-10 Jada took the veteran’s advice and saw it as an opportunity.

They were the only two beginners who were given such training. The DCC staff provided McLean with a unique opportunity to improve, and progress will see her noticed even more.

Sure enough, at the next rehearsal, Rycroft singled out McLean for her progress, and the words of encouragement gave the Aggie dancer a source of confidence for the remainder of camp.

“It was really cool to hear that from her,” McLean said of Rycroft. “Having someone like her take the time to help you was a great experience.”

On the day the team’s executive vice president, Charlotte Jones, officially announced the final DCC roster, each of the 36 dancers received their custom uniform, one at a time. McLean still describes that moment with a single word: “disbelief.”

“Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever had a more exciting moment in my life than when they told us to put it on,” says McLean. “It sounds cheesy, like you’re about to put on another costume or uniform. But nothing compares to a uniform made just for you. No one else will wear it. You have to re-audition each year, so you are not guaranteed a uniform the following year. So this is mine right now and I will treasure it every time I wear it.”

For McLean’s debut, the Cowboys hosted Atlanta in their home opener last September 20, with Dallas posting a dramatic 40-39 victory in front of a reduced-capacity crowd of 21,708 – by far McLean’s largest crowd ever, and the first time he finally saw her favorite team in person.

To separate them from the athletes and coaches, DCC performed on a stage atop the suite in the end zone.

“It was hands down the coolest day of my life,” she said. “I didn’t laugh because I had to, I laughed because I literally couldn’t help myself.

“As a Cowboys fan, I always wanted to go to a game, especially their home stadium, but I never got the chance. It’s not something my family couldn’t afford growing up. And now I’m at a Cowboys football game, and I’m cheering at that too. I have the best seats in the house.”

Not only that, McLean was lucky enough to have her family present at four home games. With the Cowboys’ 2020 season in the books, McLean remains in the Dallas area. She and her teammates are under contract until the start of training camp in 2021, meaning they’re sticking around for promotional appearances.

McLean took Davis’ distance learning classes last fall, juggling DCC practices with her school schedule. He continues his studies in the off-season.

She lives near the other cheerleaders, but not only because of work.

“When they say DCC is a sorority, they mean it,” she says. “There isn’t a single person on that team I can’t go to for something, who wouldn’t be willing to help me come up with something. Yes, I love to dance and perform, and that aspect is great. But just having friends and sisters who really care about you and are there for you — even outside of dancing, just navigating life…

“I’ve made some of my best friends out of this crew now,” added a grateful McLean.

— The Enterprise thanks UC Davis Assistant Director of Athletic Communications Mark Honbo for the article. Contact Mark at mwhonbo@ucdavis.edu.

Is Samantha finglass a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader?

Is Samantha finglass a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader?

Finglass may have been introduced to the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders by her family, but during her internship, she worked hard to earn her spot on the team. On the same subject : Why a California Central Coast city loves the Dallas Cowboys.

How long was Kelli Finglass a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader? Career. Finglass was a member of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders from 1984 to 1989, where she was the first cheerleader to be invited back without going through the normal audition process.

Who is Samantha finglass?

Samantha Finglass joined the Texas A&M Athletics Department in January 2021 and serves as an administrative associate for the Lettermen Association. See the article : Ava Lahey’s ‘Making the Team’ single ‘almost a religious experience’.

A 19-year-old cheerleader at Southern University and A&M College has died
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Who is the most famous DCC cheerleader?

Distinguished DCC Alumni To see also : GOLF! Cheerlead team to organize fundraising tournament.

  • Tina Hernandez (1977–1978), actress, CHiPs TV series (1982–1983)
  • Tami Barber (1977-80), actress.
  • Janet Fulkerson (1980â82), actress.
  • Judy Trammell (1980â84), current Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders choreographer, mother of DCC Cassie Trammell (2008-2012)

Who is the most famous cheerleader? According to Jones, the three most popular cheerleaders are Gabi Butler, with nearly 220,000 followers on Instagram, and Carly Manning and Jamie Andries, who both have more than 400,000 followers.

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