Kelli Finglass Follows Her Heart All the Way to “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders”

Kelli Finglass Follows Her Heart All the Way to "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders"

The season 14 finale of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team airs tomorrow, October 25 at 9pm ET/8 CT on CMT.

Kelli Finglass had a life plan and it didn’t involve the NFL’s most prestigious and recognized cheer and dance team.

“I was going to be in international marketing for UPS, and my first assignment was going to be a driver!” Finglass told CMT.com with a laugh.

Yet here she is more than twenty years later, passionately leading the charge and making magic happen on and off the field as the director of the world famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Fate always has a way of putting us where we belong, doesn’t it?

Finglass is warm, Valencian and completely open and honest as we take a trip down memory lane to her first DCC audition at 19.

“I heard an ad on the radio for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders auditions and I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll give it a try.’ I probably won’t make it, but I’ll try.” And so I did, and I drove up to Texas Stadium at that time and when I pulled up, I’ll never forget just that sea of ​​that packed parking lot. huge blonde hair, 80s, everyone looked like Farrah Fawcett. These larger-than-life people, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m in the wrong place.'”

Finglass’ path to DCC is much like that of the candidates she now advises and coaches: a small-town girl who fell in love with dance and pursued that dream throughout her college career, wondering how far it could go.

All the way to 100,000 screaming Cowboys fans, it turns out.

“Once I was there, I was there forever,” he said. “I mean, it immediately became a way of life for me. We all became really close friends, I had a roommate right away and I actually moved colleges because of it.”

“It became everything to me.”

Finglass danced with the group for five years, and fun fact: she was the only DCC allowed to return to the team without repeat auditions and training camp.

And it wasn’t just his talent and tenacity that won him the favor of his superiors and peers; she was also a refuge for the girls, a key confidant and adviser from day one, and this role continued for Finglass even after her retirement from the field.

“For some reason, I was appointed ambassador!” she said

1989 saw big changes for the Cowboys Organization. Finglass hung up her uniform, DCC director Suzanne Mitchell also stepped down, visionary businessman Jerry Jones became the Cowboys’ new owner and questions about the squad’s future loomed for the remaining cheerleaders . After the veterans paid a visit to Finglass’ apartment one night, he decided to take steps to ease their concerns.

“I went to meet with Jerry Jones on behalf of our alumni cheerleaders. Everyone was kind of moved by what happens next,” she recalled. “I talked to him and expressed some of the concerns. And then later that week, they called me and said, ‘Well, do you want to come work for the cheerleaders?’

“And again, like I said, I had just accepted a job. I was really excited about international marketing, but my passion in life just said, ‘Yes.’ So I did it, and I was the “assistant manager with Leslie Haynes for one season. Then I worked in the Cowboys’ marketing department for one season, and then they asked me to come back to the cheerleading department and run it full steam in 1991.”

Since becoming a full director, Finglass has led the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders to new heights and world fame. National and international television appearances, fan experiences, countless USO Tours for our troops overseas, modeling, swimsuit calendars, merchandise, and of course CMT’s fourteen year long run of the series hit Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, which Finglass executive produces.

“We had that interest in our audition process,” he said. “The audition itself is pretty elaborate and extensive and comprehensive, so that’s when the idea and the conversation started, like, ‘Hmm, maybe we should do a TV show or something…’

“With all these reality shows coming up, maybe there’s something that can keep the cheerleaders intact and show the world what we know: that all these girls come from all over the country and they’re so talented, and there’s so much. much more than you would see in just a football match”.

Once again, Finglass saw the potential and went for it, and it paid off.

“I have what I think a lot of young people coming out of college have: You’re just fearless,” he admitted.

“You don’t know what the word ‘no’ means,” he said. “I had my first staff meeting, I’ll never forget it: I walked into the meeting and it was all the department heads. Our owner Jerry Jones was there, our head coach Jimmy Johnson and some of the others as well. I just had this spiral full of ideas, and I’m sure you were used to a meeting where people were like, “Oh, everything’s going well this week.” And I started busting out all my ideas, and it was two pages worth of stuff. I wanted to do it with the cheerleaders. I’m probably rolling my eyes, I don’t know. But all these two pages have come to life,” he revealed.

And more pages are being filled every day that Finglass and his choreographer Judy Trammell are at the helm of the ship. It’s a friendship and professional partnership that not only gets the job done, but shines through and sets the tone each season.

“Judy and I are like spouses now,” Finglass said with a laugh. “We grew up a lot together. I can be short-sighted and extremely focused and driven, and Judy is more than “relatable”. She’s trying to make sure everyone’s happy and I’m trying to make sure we do everything and we’re doing it right.

But over the years, we’ve definitely rounded each other’s corners and when we make decisions, we definitely talk behind closed doors, so to speak. And when we present the decision to the group, it is unified.”

“I mean we’re like parents, she and I are probably better spouses and parents than we are in our personal lives because we know we support each other when we make a decision. I think we respect each other a lot.”

More than the uniform, the white boots and the dazzling smiles, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are powerful, educated, thoughtful, kind and successful women. They are role models: an inspiration to those who want to know the balance between family, a career and a wild all-American dream.

And they’re just getting started. With an exciting new roster of talent, a new season of performances and appearances, a new Christmas show, the Cowboys Christmas Spectacular and a host of other plans and dreams on the table, Finglass is set to deliver a take a look at things. raising the glass ceiling even further.

“That’s why we wear boots,” he joked.

Watch Finglass and Trammell in action when the season 14 finale of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team airs Friday, October 25 at 9:00 PM ET/8 CT on CMT.

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