America's Sweethearts: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (2024) s01e03 Episode Script

Episode 3

This over here.
Scoot a little bit that way.
How was your day?
[Anna Kate inhales deeply] I don't know.
Wait. What do you mean?
Well, I feel like
they give me, like, compliments,
and then all of a sudden, it's like
I don't know if it's my personality,
or if they're saying
I'm reserved when I dance, or my
I'm reserved personality-wise,
which I don't really know
how to change that
if it is something that's an issue.
[gentle, solemn music playing]
I found this apartment last year,
and then in came little Anna Kate
a year later
needing a place to live for the summer
because who knew if she was gonna make
training camp, make the squad?
So we have been living
in this studio apartment together.
I think it's natural to, like, kind of
question things or second-guess things.
You get so anxious about, like, if
what people think about you, or, like,
if your hair looks the right way,
or how you're doing
in Judy and Kelli's eyes,
like, if you're improving,
or if people like you,
and blah, blah, blah.
We've had a few arguments,
but for the most part,
it was definitely, I think,
a blessing for me
that, as I was leaving, she was coming in.
Sort of lightened the blow a little bit,
so I didn't feel completely isolated
from everything that I had been around
the past five years.
When I was done,
I felt like my anxiety was almost worse,
because it was like,
"Wait. That was, like, my thing."
"That's what I did all the time."
Like, "That's what all my friends did."
When that was stripped away,
I felt like my anxiety got a lot worse.
[dramatic, slowly-building
orchestral intro playing]
[Kelli] Welcome to
our end-of-year banquet.
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
have been joining at the end of the year
for over 40 years now.
To me, what represents tonight
is tradition, tradición.
Good, positive gatherings
and meanings that can be passed on.
[Judy, tearfully] This person has been,
like, a light in my life
and my right hand.
I know that you all respect her so much.
She has the prettiest feet on the squad.
And I was looking back at my texts.
One of my last texts to her said,
"I love you."
And I don't say that enough.
But I want everyone in here to know
how much I love y'all.
[Caroline] There's so much love.
I think that's what's almost addicting
about DCC.
You love performing.
You love putting on the uniform
and feeling like a superhero.
But you love your life.
I mean, every day, you get to go
to practice and see your best friends.
What more could you ask for?
People ask, "Was it fun?"
I'm like, "It literally was the best job
you could ever have."
Y'all have selected
your Veteran of the Year,
[cacophonous cheering]
-["Sweet Caroline" playing]
-Good times never seemed so good ♪
I've been inclined ♪
[women] Bum, bum, bum! ♪
To believe they never would ♪
But now, I ♪
Look at the night ♪
And it don't seem so lonely ♪
-[woman] Go, Caroline!
-Thank you.
-[song fades out]
-[gentle, dramatic music playing]
People say, "Each chapter gets better."
College, "I loved college."
And then, "I loved getting married."
"I loved having kids.
I loved my 30-year career."
But does it always get better?
This is too much.
I don't know why. It became a thing.
I would always hug the people around me
and say, "I'm so thankful that I'm here
doing this with you right now." [sniffles]
And you can feel the energy around you,
and it's like love, and support, and
and fun,
and girls just living out
their dreams together.
Life can be hard, especially as a girl
when you're 25 years old.
So when you're hugging these people
that have gotten you through
really hard things,
it's so special, and I'm gonna miss it.
But I'm so excited for my sister
because I've never had that experience
in anything else I've done in my life.
See you later. You're gonna do great.
-I'll call you.
-Yeah, call me.
Call you in my car ride back.
-And send me updates if you can.
-Text me when you get there too.
I hope, for me,
the best is yet to come, always.
But when I'm sitting here day after day,
you can get easily sucked into the fact
that, "Did I just leave behind
the best years of my life?"
[dramatic piano melody playing]
[music fades]
[birds chirping]
[airplane engines roaring]
[Kelli] Okay.
-Here we go.
-I'm excited.
-All right, we have 14.
-Fourteen, yes.
Our first was probably
mine and yours most controversial one.
We have now seen them dance.
We've seen them in an audition,
competition environment.
And now, we're trying to make sure
they are at their best look.
Anna Anna Kate Kate, is she here?
[woman] Anna Kate?
-I think you're first.
-I am. Yes, ma'am.
-Let's do it.
-[Anna Kate] Let's do it.
[Kelli] It's very individualized.
There's not one specific look
to a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader,
but we're looking at eye color,
and skin tone, and texture,
and all these things,
so they can look their best.
Is this more your natural behind your ear?
Yes, ma'am.
I wanna see
what that looks like with your eyes.
I do like her blonde. I don't see the red.
What do you think? Not taking you
away from blonde. Just maybe
Whatever y'all wanna do,
I'm fine with doing it.
["Baubles, Bangles And Beads" by
Antônio Carlos Jobim and Frank Sinatra]
[Kelli] Mississippi Becca.
I lean red with her.
I definitely like darkers and not copper.
-You've got lots of hair.
-Oh, yes.
I hope we don't chop it.
[male vocalist scatting softly]
[Kelli] A look is important
to the overall appeal.
Having renewed confidence
or kind of an extra dose of glam
certainly helps.
Bright, shiny beads ♪
So, I have a sew-in weave.
So this portion of my hair right here
is my real hair.
[stylist] Got it.
It's a traditional sew-in.
Okay. It looks good,
but can you keep up with it?
[Kelli] Sometimes,
those first impressions can be
you know somebody's beautiful,
but they just have the wrong hair color.
[stylist] You've never worn a wig before?
[Camille] Never.
We take them to the salon
and address that,
and nine times out of ten, they love it,
and they're more photogenic because of it.
[Reece] Charly!
Oh, I love it!
Let's do some contouring.
I'm gonna go across the forehead,
and then we're gonna go
up on the forehead.
Oh my God, I love it.
-[excited exclamations]
[Kelli] Kelly with a Y.
From Weehawken.
Baubles, bangles, and beads ♪
Let's talk about your hair.
[Kelli] We're just playing.
[Kevin] Some ideas
Maybe about going darker.
I'm a little nervous. Um
I haven't been dark
since about eighth grade.
So this is gonna be a very drastic change.
They saw me in the uniform
the other day, so
they know what they think will look best.
So I'm excited to see my change.
I trust what they have in mind, so
Anything to give me
that Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader look.
-Are you trying to see Kelly?
-It looks so good.
-You think?
I feel like
you look like a different person, but
-[Kelly] Yeah.
-In a good way, yeah.
-[Kelly] I'm so scared right now.
Every time I look,
I'm like, "Who is that?"
Now you've made my job harder,
'cause they're all gonna look great.
[Kevin] Yeah.
[Kelly] Okay, get off the treadmill
if you're running.
Oh my gosh!
-She's crying.
-Oh my gosh!
Look at this.
Do you love it?
I need to get used to it, but
All right, well, I will talk to you later.
-Love you.
-I love you. I love you like
[Kelly] I have wanted to be a Dallas
Cowboys Cheerleader my whole life.
I just didn't think
it was in the cards for me,
considering I live in New Jersey.
[gentle ambient music playing]
Look at that.
That's what I tell her.
"Never stop dreaming."
[interviewer] When did Kelly first show
an interest in dance?
I really think probably
when she started walking.
She just loved it,
anything that had to do with music
and cameras, to be honest with you.
She was very camera-friendly.
[Kelly's dad] Ever since she was little,
that's all she ever dreamed of,
being a star, being center stage.
You can just see the passion.
The way that her eyes express it,
she makes you feel
like you're up there
on the stage dancing with her.
And, well, the rest is history.
[Kelly] They sacrificed so much,
not just time,
but money
to allow me to dance here.
[Lina] There were times
with a lot of anxiety.
But you know what? She loved it so much.
She always said that was her therapy,
that was her sanctuary.
She forgot about the world
when she went to dance,
and we supported her all the way,
all the way.
Look at her solos.
[tearfully] Like seeing it again.
[Kelly] Growing up, I wasn't really aware
of what was happening in my family.
My mom and dad made it seem
like we had a perfect family.
[tearfully] You know, we always felt
that family came first.
And, uh, I personally made a decision
of staying in the marriage
until my kids grew older
and they became adults.
[Onel] In my mind,
I didn't want it to end
until I knew the kids were gonna be okay,
and I think Lina agreed with me.
[Lina] Kelly was, you know, dancing
seven days a week, day in and day out.
I did not wanna break that dream,
what she loved, her routine, her life.
That was her life.
Financially, there was absolutely no way
I could have provided that for her alone.
So I waited. [sniffles]
And I'm thrilled I did it,
thrilled that I waited,
and we waited in the best way we could
as a family.
[Kelly] I was grateful
that they stuck it out for me,
because I would never ask them
to do something like that. That's crazy.
The weird part is right now,
I just graduated college
and haven't lived at home
with them divorced.
[Lina] Wow! That's a lot of years,
20 years of dancing.
-And I'm hoping more to come.
-Yeah. Yeah.
[Onel] We've gone our separate ways,
but together, we try
to keep the kids as focused as possible.
Everything is fine.
It's just that we're not together anymore.
They both love me so much,
and they support me
so, so, so, so much, so
I wanna make them proud,
because they know how bad I want it,
and they have sacrificed so much,
and I would love to, like, show them,
"Look what I did."
"You didn't sacrifice all this
for nothing."
[Lina] We're getting a good feeling,
but we don't know until the end.
-And let's see what the journey has.
-She can save some pages for Dallas.
I know she's gonna be fine
no matter what happens,
'cause that's the way she is.
But yeah
[chokes up]
I would like to see her make it.
[gentle music playing]
[music fades]
Did you have work today?
-[woman] Yeah, but I work from home.
-That's nice.
[Anisha] When I was in residency,
before COVID,
it took me an hour to get to USC,
and an hour and a half coming back.
I would stop and nap at the halfway mark.
-'Cause LA traffic.
-That's crazy.
-[woman] It looks good. I like the color.
-[Ari] Thank you.
They changed a lot of us.
Yeah, I was looking at everyone's
I haven't seen everyone yet.
-Did you see Kelly?
-Yes! I love
-I know. It looks so good.
-It looks so good.
[indistinct chatter]
-[woman] It's so good.
-[Kelly] Thank you.
[woman] Do you like it?
Are you like, "Oh my gosh"?
I don't recognize myself yet.
I'll open up my phone camera
-[woman] You're like, "Who is that?"
-"Who is that girl?"
Earlier, I was practicing
in front of the mirror.
I've never seen myself dance brunette, so
Kelly, you're not gonna recognize,
'cause I didn't even recognize her
in the salon.
-After, you didn't recognize her?
-Yeah. I walked by her.
It's definitely enhancement
to her eye color.
The only thing I told Kevin was
we could still add highlights.
But if I was starting
from scratch with her,
I never would have taken her
[Judy] I did see Becca's online,
only because she posted something
on our Instagram.
-[Kelli] And?
-[Judy] She's red.
-Did it scare you?
-[Judy] No.
Oh my God, Judy! I know your tone.
[Judy] I see her being red.
I do. I do see that. I haven't
When you physically see it
It was It wasn't as dramatic as Kelly
'cause it wasn't a total color change.
-But it is vibrant.
-[Judy] She may have won you over more?
Don't let it make you nervous. Reds fade.
[Judy] Oh, I like reds.
[gentle, dreamy music playing]
[Kelli] Judy is a very adaptable person.
Through the years,
we've grown to respect each other.
We make decisions together.
We don't always agree,
and when we don't agree,
it's uncomfortable.
There are no boundaries,
and I don't know if that's healthy or not.
[music fades]
[Judy] I've always been told
I hide behind my hair.
That's part of it.
I hide.
This is gonna be so boring,
me drawing Xs for y'all,
but it is part of the process.
[interviewer] What song? What is that?
It's "Thunderstruck."
"Thunderstruck" is the most important
single routine we will do all year,
every performance, all year long.
We open the whole mood
of the football game
with the cheerleaders coming out first
and go straight into player intros.
It's, like, a really important moment,
and people know now,
when they hear that song come on,
that the game is beginning.
["Thunderstruck" by AC/DC playing]
Thunder ♪
[Kelcey] Everyone knows
our "Thunderstruck" performance.
We've just been doing it
for such a long time,
and it's this beautiful masterpiece
that Judy created.
It's so fundamental to what DCC is.
[Judy] Okay, we're going to learn
the entrance.
Five, six, seven, eight.
Down to go up, and all the way up.
Up to go down, and
This is, I mean, the most iconic dance
I can ever really think of.
Now, the hard part
You have to move five yards
every four counts.
[Caroline] Every four counts,
you go five yards.
[Judy] four. You there?
You are hauling.
And five, six, seven, eight.
We have to run and haul haul ass
50 yards before we even dance.
six, seven, and line!
You're exerting this energy,
but you're also equally exerting
the energy
of-of looking calm, cool, and collected.
[Judy] When you're in a football stadium
like this,
one does the wrong thing,
and it just stands out.
["Thunderstruck" ends]
[Judy] Kelly, you did
some weird feet flicks.
-Yes, ma'am.
-I don't know how to say that.
Becca, you missed your last yard line.
You were just anticipating.
-Be exact.
[Judy] Okay, let's do that again.
[women cheering]
[Judy] Hey, Zoë, really consciously
slow down on those changes.
-Yes, ma'am.
Two, three
We travel the lines,
and then we pull the arms up and around,
and give a little peek-a-boo
before we flip to the back.
That stands out to me honestly,
'cause it's just like
the flaws and the problems
that this Victoria deals with
goes out the door.
She's just there.
One, two, up, three, four
[Caroline] It really is like transforming
into this new persona.
When it's DCC Kelcey versus Kelcey,
that's a whole different ball game.
[dramatic hip-hop music playing]
[Kelcey] The girls that end up on the team
may not have the best technique
in the room.
It's just a matter of if they have
that unspoken "it" factor.
[Madeline] I knew I wanted to be a DCC
when I saw "Thunderstruck"
for the first time.
It's powerful.
You are getting hyped and riled up
before the game even started.
[Caroline] We're not afraid to look
someone in the eyes, dance to them,
and make them feel
kind of on the edge of their seats.
Like, "Bam, bam,
the music, the costume, the hair."
And every single person on the squad
does that at the same time,
and it just creates magic.
[Kelcey] Five, six, seven, eight.
One, two, three, four,
around, five, six,
and seven, head nod on eight.
Let it kind of move with your body
a little bit.
It just adds a little bit of fun.
My brain is like
It is so much harder when you're thinking,
and you don't know what's next.
Eight count after eight count,
like, "Okay."
[Judy] Everybody put your hands out
and barely push your poms out.
Don't flick your wrist
and throw them like they're a hot potato.
You drop your poms down,
and you're like, "Okay, here we go again."
eight. One, two, three, four
[Kelcey] You're exhausted.
And getting through the whole kickline
and making it look pretty
[Judy] six, seven, eight.
Get on the beat, Anisha.
Completing such an athletic thing
is pretty tough.
Anisha came down one eight count early
on leg recovery.
-[Judy] two, three, four.
-[Kelli] Leg lift's a photo moment.
Passés are a photo moment.
One person can ruin a photo,
and don't let that person be you.
[Judy] Tonight we're doing the jump splits
for the first time.
It takes a lot of energy.
It does hurt some of them a little bit.
They always dread the first night.
"Oh my goodness! Tonight's the night
we learn the jump splits."
[Kelli] When they start circling
into formation for the high kicks,
you can kinda see
the swell of anticipation.
And then when they land in the jump split,
you hear this, "Whoa!" You hear it.
It's an exclamation mark
on the performance.
-[Judy] One, two, three, four
-Six, five
-five, six, seven, eight.
-four, three
-One, two, three, four
-two, one.
five, six, seven, eight. One!
[cheerleaders] Yeah!
Think of a jump split.
You're jumping in the air,
and then you're landing on the ground
in the splits.
I don't know who came up with that,
but it's not easy.
That's what rips up, I would say,
people's hips.
The counts for this are gonna be
plié on five.
You're gonna jump up on six, land seven.
Then we're gonna try to land together
If you chicken out and bend your arm,
you're gonna injure the girl next to you.
I think I've done it in four.
[Judy] Try it by yourself
without hooking up first.
-Try it by yourself.
-The hooking-up is what I'm scared of.
-It's honestly easier hooked up.
-You have no choice.
[Claire] Five, six, seven, eight, one.
Six, five, four, three, two, one.
[Claire] Five, six, seven.
-Hey, that really wasn't bad.
-That was, yeah, not bad at all.
[Kelcey] It's really not
as bad as you think it is.
We have to change our tights
'cause you scrape your left knee
when you land.
But it's kind of a team effort thing
to make sure nobody gets hurt.
Nice! That was perfect.
[Sharpie] I think the jump splits
take their toll.
I've had 12 orthopedic surgeries
in the last six years.
So, there's that.
-[dramatic electronic music playing]
-[crowd cheering]
[Kat] Both my hips are torn.
Some girls' backs and necks
are pretty messed up.
A lot of girls get surgery.
I'd rather just thug it out
and deal with the cramps in my hips
for a while.
[Caroline] But it is entertaining.
People love the jump split.
Like, we can't not do it.
[crowd cheering]
[Kelcey] "Thunderstruck"
never gets easier.
You go through three and a half minutes
of charging down the field dancing,
and then the kickline, the jump split,
and getting back up after the jump split.
It's pretty hard on your body.
["Thunderstruck" playing]
[Caroline] End of my fourth year,
beginning of my fifth,
I could just feel
my right hip withering down.
I was in a lot of pain.
The surgeon was like,
"You've got to get this hip operated on."
But a hip surgery like that
is a good three to six months' recovery.
I was like, "I really wanna do
one more year of cheerleading."
I just wanted to push through.
And I tell you, after my fifth year,
when I woke up from hip surgery,
the doctor looked at me,
and she was like, "Was it worth it?"
And I'm like,
"My goal was to finish five seasons."
"No regrets."
Thunderstruck ♪
[therapist] Good.
That other side's definitely
-There we go. There you go. Come on.
-There we go. Beautiful.
You gotta pull that core in.
Belly button to spine.
["Thunderstruck" ends]
-Oh my gosh.
[Caroline] I'd be lying if I said,
"I retired, everything's great,
I'm moving on to this."
But I actually then had foot surgery,
which was a little more traumatic.
You'd think hip surgery would be worse,
but the foot has so many nerves in it,
I think.
So, from the banquet until now,
I've just been recovering a lot,
which has kind of been
a bit of a wakeup call.
[hums softly]
I went from wearing the stars
on the uniform,
dancing at all the games,
doing appearances,
teaching the kids' camps
to sort of just being isolated at home,
supporting my sister, getting better.
But I knew it was coming. I think
I just didn't come to the realization
until I had both surgeries done
and thought, "We're really doing this."
[Kelli on TV] Please welcome Caroline.
[cheering on TV]
[cell phone vibrating]
[Kat] Hey, sweet pea.
What are you doing?
I'm filling out this questionnaire
for the psych thing.
-The what?
-It's actually just a competition show.
It's called Deal or No Deal Island.
I have to get all these tests done.
I have to make sure I'm stable mentally.
"List any medical problems you have."
-You're like, "My back."
-My back, my neck, my hips.
"I have arthritis."
They're like, "If you have a back spasm
during said challenge, what will you do?"
-Thug it out.
-"Will you sue us?"
Or do kicks into a jump split
and just say, "That's showbiz, baby."
I should have my life figured out,
but no, I don't.
Spell "sciatic."
That's why Carol's my best friend.
Not just why,
but Carol's my best friend because
we have no clue what we're doing.
"First job?" Oh, "Longest job."
I've never had a job
longer than, like, DCC.
I don't want DCC
to be the highlight of my life.
Like, I can't peak. I cannot peak at DCC.
But it's so hard to do it by yourself.
I love having other girls with me
to be like, "It's okay, girl. I'm sad too,
but get your ass up
because we got practice."
I don't have that now.
[gentle, dramatic music playing]
[music fades]
[woman] Let's get back up on the wall.
You wanna be nice and flat,
laying on your right leg.
Walk your hands back more.
I don't know who this is.
I can't tell upside down.
Take your foot back a little bit, um,
Zoë and Charly. There you go.
I'll be disappointed
if Zoë doesn't move up.
I love her on the field
if we can get the rushing out of her.
But I'm not gonna protect her anymore.
-We're six people
-[Judy] We're six people over.
-[Kelli] And that's with 36.
-[Judy] Yes.
[Kelli] If we have 37,
we're five people over.
I'm gonna count days.
We are four, five, six,
seven, eight, nine, ten.
[Judy] And then in here, right away,
we need some group work.
I think we need to get on with it.
-We have two weeks less than normal.
-[Judy] Right.
We have two weeks less
than our normal preseason.
[soft, tense music playing]
[Kelli] Becca.
She needs a little makeup help.
There's too much in her cheek.
[Kelli] Kelly, I didn't watch
once tonight.
[Shelly] She needs more polish.
I think she needs more power.
She's just getting outdanced
by the people that were by her.
-[Kelli] Um, Leah.
-[Shelly] She's a no for me.
And I can't tell you why.
I just don't know. She's just
-I've just not been a fan.
-[Judy] She hasn't drawn you in yet.
She's not drawn me in.
[Kelli] Okay, Anna Kate.
I'm still ready for her
to bust out of her nervous shell.
-Me too.
-[Kelli] I can see nerves in her.
She's a great performer.
-But it's not from the knees down.
-[Shelly] Mm-hmm. Exactly.
[Kelli] Then I wanna ask you
about veterans.
I'm gonna give Madeline,
I'm not making any more excuses for her.
[Judy] I'm gonna give Madeline
a maybe today.
[Kelli] Madeline, your passé None.
-Yes, ma'am.
[Kelli] You've gotta be aware of that.
And your kicks weren't veteran strong.
Yes, ma'am.
Almost kinda looks like a stamina thing.
And we actually noticed that at finals.
Did we ever ask you
if you were sick at finals?
-[Kelli] Were you in the second half?
The field work.
Not the solo, but the field work.
Field work?
Didn't eat enough, to be honest.
That's what it looked like.
And just so you know,
just to be totally transparent
in front of all of our friends,
all the judges thought you were sick
'cause you just lost it here.
-Obviously, can't do that at a game.
-Yes, ma'am.
We talked about this your rookie year.
You gotta fuel yourself.
Yes, ma'am.
-You've got to.
-Yes, ma'am.
[gentle, solemn music playing]
[Kelli] Madeline's a legacy cheerleader.
She's only one of five
whose mothers were a cheerleader.
Just like Victoria, she didn't make it
her first year either.
She got knocked down
when we didn't pick her her first year,
and she came back.
So I do think that's in her nature.
I did it.
It's not like, "Just 'cause
your mom cheered with Kelli,
here you go.
Here's your uniform, your locker."
There's no guarantee.
If her kicks aren't
where they're supposed to be,
if she's not picking up the material
as fast as she should,
those are all elements
that you try to not think about too much,
but there's always that chance
that she'd be cut.
[Madeline] The moment
I had that uniform on,
it was almost like I saw
my mom in the reflection.
It was a dream.
[Shannon] If it wasn't for the Cowboys,
Maddie wouldn't be here.
I mean, people joke about it,
but it's kinda true.
[Madeline] My mom was a cheerleader.
Dad was a cinematographer for the Cowboys.
They actually met
on the USO tour to Korea.
-Is this your first time?
-No, it's my second tour.
So hopefully, I know
what I'm gonna be doing.
[man] Look around,
see these guys with these girls.
They're going home. I'm not.
I'm going with them.
That's the best part, don't you think?
[Madeline] I'm very much
of a Daddy's girl,
so growing up,
I saw him as such a superhero.
He loved his job.
And I remember
whenever he came home from his job,
he would show, like,
"This is my credential from this."
"I would be doing that."
[Shannon] He was good.
I mean, he got hired to follow a golf ball
on the PGA Tour.
You got a tiny, little, white ball
up against a gray sky,
and it's Tiger Woods.
And he's following it.
I was like,
"I think the ball went this way."
And he's already got it on the green.
But I don't think he accepted
the age process very well.
He was like,
"Why can't I see as well as I should?"
Or, "I can't carry the camera
like the younger guys can."
[grim music playing]
[Madeline] He just felt that,
for someone his age, in his line of work,
he thought he was gonna get outworked
from, say, a young 22-year-old.
[Shannon] I tried to tell him.
I said, "We're all aging."
But I think some folks,
that's not good enough.
Things had just escalated, and he
You know, he was
He wasn't treating my kids well.
He was really putting
Verbal abuse can be just
as painful and long-lasting
than physical. And I know
people could argue against that.
He never hit, um
but the verbal abuse is long-lasting.
[Madeline] I remember whenever I wouldn't
get first place in a dance competition,
or captain of my drill team,
or when I didn't make DCC
he would get frustrated, and he goes,
"I guess you didn't want it hard enough."
He was angry at himself.
He was angry at me.
He was angry at the world.
You would go,
"Oh, well, he's just having a bad day."
Or, "They didn't contact him
for this shoot."
There was no,
"Oh my gosh! This is a major red flag.
We need to get into counseling."
There were little things.
But now, when you look back, you're going
He just didn't see a way, I guess.
[somber music playing]
[inhales sharply, sniffles]
Um, my father lost his battle
with his mental health
in late August of 2022.
I was driving to practice
when I got the phone call.
I thought, at that moment,
I was going through a nightmare.
'Cause I didn't wanna believe it.
[somber music playing]
[Kelcey] She's always been someone
that kind of presses her feelings down.
She's another strong one.
But it was really hard
to watch her go through that.
Everyone grieves differently,
but we just tried our best
to support her.
[Madeline] I knew I had to do my job,
not to say that, you know,
I was neglecting what had happened.
I just knew I had a job to fulfill.
You're here for a reason,
and you need to do it.
'Cause Dad had a saying growing up,
"Someone's gotta do it.
Might as well be you."
So I had that mentality of going,
"You keep going. You don't let
this distraction affect you." [sniffs]
And that was my choice.
If I find myself getting overwhelmed,
I just remember
why I'm here on this Earth.
I'm here to be part
of a great organization
that cares a lot about their fans
and their tradition.
I'm here to show the gift I was given.
I'm here to dance.
[music brightens slightly]
[Kelli] When she lost her father,
I called her, and I was like,
"You take all the time you need."
"Do not worry about the game,
or games, or practice."
"Take the time you need,
and we'll be here
when you feel like you can stand."
She wanted to be in the game,
and I said, "Madeline, I don't even know
if I recommend that."
-["The Star-Spangled Banner" playing]
-[Kelli] I'll never forget that game.
Madeline is our cheerleader
that does the sign language
for the national anthem.
I looked on the field,
and there was the corner
where her father should be,
and he wasn't,
and then Madeline is on the 50-yard line,
signing the national anthem
to thousands of fans.
And I was like, "Nobody has any idea
what she's just gone through,
and I don't know
how this child is standing."
["The Star-Spangled Banner" continues]
[sighs] That was more than
anybody needed to stand through.
I don't know how she did it,
and she continues to.
I mean, I keep almost wanting her
to break down
for us, maybe.
[muted cheering]
[Kelli] But she's stayed strong
against all odds, that's for sure.
[train clacking]
[traffic humming]
[birds chirping]
[Reece vocalizing beats softly]
Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.
[Charly laughs]
When I I feel so I feel like
I achieved something. I'm like, "Yes!"
No, literally. I know.
This part, that's exactly how I feel too.
-Then I'm like, "Yeah!"
[Reece] Then, "Now I need to calm down."
[Charly] Yeah, I know. Me too.
Then I'm like, "Okay, focus"
[Kelly] We started "Thunderstruck."
I've been watching that dance
since I was little.
So to actually start learning it
was surreal
but much harder than expected.
So much harder.
The steps, there's so much to think about
while trying to keep a smile on your face
and look like a DCC.
So it's gonna be a lot,
but once it gets in our body,
it'll be fine.
It's just the amount of choreography
that's being thrown at us
is definitely more than I even expected.
[Reece and Charly continue vocalizing]
[Charly laughs]
[vocalizing softly]
I've learned you
I need to sit as much as I can.
It's hard, because the DCC style,
it really accentuates your curves,
and they always talk about, like,
you use your body a certain way,
that my lower back is in so much pain
from just moving my body
the way I have been.
But I'm so close,
and I always wanna give my 110%.
Everything is about this.
[car horn honks]
[traffic humming]
[Kelli] Is he here?
There he Oh!
Looking good.
You dressed up for us tonight.
Why not? I'm gonna be on the cam, why not?
-Yes, sir!
-What's up, love?
[Kelli] We have you a clipboard
with names, pictures, and stuff.
-[Emmitt] What you want me to do?
I'd love you to watch them
if you have time,
or if you don't, I want you just to talk.
But if you wanna watch a little bit
'Cause you are
a showmanship and dance expert.
I'm gonna leave the expertise
to you ladies.
-You ladies have done
-[Kelli] Emmitt!
such a tremendous job
for many, many years.
There's nothing that I can add.
These ladies don't really know me,
and I don't really know them.
And the impact that I may have
on their lives could be catastrophic,
because they're gonna think
I don't like them.
-That's not
-Welcome to our world.
Well, that's your world.
That's your world.
That's what you've been doing
for the last God knows how many years.
[Kelli] Okay.
Tonight we have one person
we want to be your audience.
He's who gave us three Super Bowl rings.
Hall of Fame.
The NFL's all-time leading rusher
[whistle blowing]
[gentle music playing]
and Dancing with the Stars champion.
When they talk about the Cowboys,
the organization,
yes, they talk about the football team,
but when it comes down
to the heart of America
and the beauty of America,
you're it. You're it.
I know you're not at the end yet,
you're still fighting
to get to that one spot,
and so I wish each and every one of you
the best of luck.
Every last one of you got the physicality
and the ability to do it.
But are you mentally tough to endure?
Because between your ears
is really where the battle is won.
If you're a veteran,
nothing is guaranteed.
If you're a person trying to get in,
nothing is guaranteed.
So every mistake
could actually be critical.
I know y'all are used
to people talking to you guys,
but I'm open for any question
you wanna ask. Feel free.
-[Kelli] Come where he can see you.
-[Emmitt] Yeah, so I can see you.
[KayDianna] What was harder,
football or dance?
-[Emmitt] Football, by far.
-[Emmitt] By far.
-[mouthing] Really?
I could I could dance. I had rhythm.
What's next?
Yes, ma'am?
Out of all your accolades,
which is your most beloved,
and, knowing your backstory now,
what were your initial thoughts
when you accomplished that thing?
I've experienced Super Bowls,
becoming the all-time leading rusher.
I know what that feels like.
I experienced going to the Hall of Fame.
I know what that feels like.
But there's nothing more precious
than your own joy.
I mean, that's what I live for.
That's what I did all this for.
I did this for my family.
That right there, that's it for me.
-[women] Aw.
[gentle, sentimental music playing]
[Emmitt] Are you crying some more?
-[Emmitt laughs]
-[women] Aw.
[Emmitt] It's okay.
[Madeline] That touched me.
Touched me right here.
[Emmitt] It is. But that's real for me.
I gave a lot of myself
for this organization.
Once you sign up for the mission,
there's no turning back. No turning back.
And so, how many of you
wanna be on the team
when the Dallas Cowboys
win the next Super Bowl?
[women] Yeah!
-This year, baby!
-[Emmitt] I even wanna get on the team.
-[women clamoring excitedly]
-[Emmitt] I even wanna be on the team.
-[music fades]
-[thunder rumbling in distance]
[men chattering indistinctly]
-[woman 1] Go home and drink coffee.
-[woman 2] No, you'll be fine.
[indistinct chatter]
[woman vocalizing "Thunderstruck"]
Y'all should've seen me yesterday
trying to get the coordination to go left.
-I know.
-I can go right, but left, I was like
[vocalizing beats softly]
Up and down, and up and down.
Up and down, and up and down.
-[woman] Saltie looks rough.
-[Judy] Who?
[woman] Madeline.
-I know she always does, but
[Jennifer] She looks extra, like tired.
-[Judy] Everyone come in.
-Was I supposed to come in early?
Score her appropriately because I think
Judy and I have kind of had this debate.
And we have to make a cut tonight.
-[woman 1] Do you need a ball?
-[woman 2] Do you have one?
[Judy] Y'all, let's go.
[Kelli] Okay, look at Anisha's posture.
Come on, girl.
["Thunderstruck" playing]
Thunder ♪
Thunder ♪
Thunderstruck ♪
[Jennifer] McKenna looks good on this.
No, that's Charly.
-[Jennifer] The redhead.
-[Kelli] Yep.
-The real redhead.
-[Jennifer] Yep.
Becca, to me, has been staccato.
-And choppy the whole time.
-She doesn't look as engaging.
She looks just like, "I'm smiling,
and I'm here." Does that make sense?
-It does.
-Not as entertaining.
She kind of has a
Anisha just rolled her ankle really bad.
-Someone's hurt.
[Kelli] Kendall.
You need to pull out? Pull out.
[Kelcey] Here we go!
-Pull out.
-Did you roll?
-I just rolled my ankle.
No, it's okay. I'd rather you be safe
than tomorrow tell me you're bad for real.
-I think I'm okay.
Yeah. Sorry. I just like
-Rolled it in?
Yeah? Can you walk a little?
[Judy] Did it feel like it twinged?
Like that pop or anything?
[Anisha] It just hurts a little right now.
I'm sorry.
-[Judy] Go let her
-Let's go look at it.
-prod on you for a minute.
-And then we'll go on.
-Sorry, guys. Sorry.
Oh, man. [breathing heavily]
-[Kendall] How's it feel as you walk?
-[Anisha] It hurts a lot.
-Yeah. Okay.
[Kendall] If it starts to get worse,
let us know.
-[Anisha] Okay.
-[Kendall] You don't wanna make it worse.
-[Anisha] Can I still practice?
-[Kendall] Yeah, we're gonna try.
Those are just really scary
'cause that's a really fast movement.
I know. I think I just
I was just going too hard.
[Kendall] Yeah. I mean, go hard.
But don't hurt yourself. You know?
Fine balance.
It's hard when we're fighting
for our life every day.
[Kendall] Exactly.
[scattered applause]
-[Judy] Yep.
[Judy] We wanna see the rookies do this.
[women] Yes, ma'am.
["Thunderstruck" playing]
[Jennifer] They're tired, but doing it.
Have you watched
been watching Kelly any?
She's a trained dancer,
and she hasn't been doing
-I don't love her.
-I wish I had you watch earlier.
[Jennifer] I think she walks
sternum way too far out.
-So she's danced like this the whole time.
-[Judy] Yes!
[Jennifer] Anisha's aren't bad back there.
She just can't find passé.
two, one.
[woman] Good job, girls!
Good job, ladies!
Becca, your kicks weren't as high
as they've been in the past,
so I'd say you looked fatigued
and almost like,
"I wanna hurry and get this over with."
-Specifically the real quick, "Bum-bum."
-Yes, ma'am.
-You were like, "Hurry. Don't look at me."
Leah, we need more, like, jazz run
on the entrance.
Yes, ma'am.
But your entrance style is not a match.
Yes, ma'am.
[leader] Boom, click. Boom, click.
Circle and sit.
So let's finish this sit all the way down.
[Kelli] I could make decisions right now.
[Judy] I know.
[leader] This is two hits to the back.
[tense music playing]
[music fades]
[both inhale sharply]
-[Anisha] Thank you for everything.
-[Sharpie] Of course.
Let's see what they have to say.
Could just be notes.
-You know?
-Yeah. True.
-[Kelli] Hello.
How are you?
-[Kelli] Good. How's your ankle?
-I'm good.
I don't know what happened.
I think I was trying to impress Jennifer.
I just went too hard.
It's never happened before, but it's fine.
-Does it hurt?
-It's just a little swollen.
-But I'm fine.
-[Kelli] It is swollen?
Do those shoes fit?
-They're a little I don't know.
-They're big.
-But my toes are there, so
No, but there's a gap back here.
Honestly, Anisha,
I've seen you just light it on fire.
There's no question.
From your solo
to some of the choreographies.
Thank you.
You are a great performer.
You're a great showman.
You're very entertaining.
You're beautiful.
You have beautiful, long legs.
And yet, you don't have
the same foundation as some of the others
in terms of style of dance.
If you can imagine photo finishes
of every step.
We would have probably
a picture of beautiful kicks,
and your foot would kind of be dangling.
It starts at the foundation,
and that's literally
what we're talking about.
[dramatic music playing]
-[Judy] Hey.
-[Kelli] How are you?
-I'm doing good.
Are you? Are you worn out?
I'm very worn out.
Those last kicks, y'all,
I was like [grunting]
I was fighting to get them
up there, so, um
I do think you need
to kinda breathe and relax.
You are wound up,
over-practicing, overthinking.
-You're over-trying with facials.
-[Leah] Okay.
I can definitely soften up the facials
and just do smile and open-mouth.
-Um [laughs]
-[Kelli laughs]
Open-mouth smile, I mean.
You're in a pressure cooker,
and I want to kinda take the lid
off that for you,
'cause we're we're
We're making cuts tonight,
and you're being released.
Okay. Yes, ma'am.
We're going at such a fast pace,
I think it's just gonna be too much
for you right now.
[Anisha] I understand.
If there's any way
I could have that extra week,
but I understand.
-[Kelli] It's not gonna
It'd be as if I was asking you,
"Can you straighten my teeth in a week?"
-You know what I mean? It takes time.
-Yeah. It takes time. That makes sense.
It's not gonna correct itself in a week.
It's just not your year.
Okay. Thank you. Well, I just wanna say
-Thank you.
-You worked hard.
-Thank you so much for everything.
-Thank you.
-I'm sorry. I'm sweaty.
-You're awesome.
Thank you. I really appreciate it.
-Thank you so much.
-Thank you.
You're amazing.
I'm so excited
to hopefully train with you again.
-We hope so.
-Yes. Yes, definitely.
[Judy] I was getting nervous.
[solemn piano notes resound]
[inhales deeply, sighs]
[gentle, tense music playing]
Oh my goodness. Thank you, Shelly.
-[Judy] Hey.
-[Kelli] Hi, Kelly.
[Kelli] How have you felt
throughout this process?
I have felt good.
I'm getting in my head a lot.
The nerves and pressure
is also not allowing me to learn
to the best of my potential
because I'm always like
It kind of shows in your face,
and you look very nervous all the time.
-[Kelly] Okay.
-[Judy] We hate that.
'Cause we don't want y'all to have
to perform feeling nervous all the time.
To me, your strength is your heart,
your effort, your passion
from family to every
I just get good vibes out of you.
Having said that,
we have outpaced you this year.
We're making cuts,
and you're one of the ones
we're releasing.
There's not
Even these nine days that I can work hard?
[Kelli] I don't think
you can work any harder.
-[Kelli] This is a lot of new material.
And it's just a lot for you right now,
and there's other people
that are more comfortable with it
and the pace right now.
Do you, like
Because my dream is to make this team,
this this team.
Like, do you see, like
down the line,
or do you think, for me, it's just
Like, I would I would love
to try again next year.
[Judy] Then I would.
I would take every kind of dance class
you can
to where you are comfortable learning
on the spot, quick,
and then but can perform it too.
I think that's one of your problems
is you
When you're trying to overthink everything
and you're fatigued, it shows.
[Kelli] There's no question
you haven't done your best
and given us your all.
Thank you.
-[sighs] Oh God. I probably look a mess.
-[Kelli] You don't.
[Judy] You look beautiful.
Your eyes are beautiful.
[Kelli] I know. I take some pride
in you saying you filled your new
-[Kelli] So
[Judy] So just work hard this year.
-I will.
-[Judy] You can come back.
-Thank you.
-[Judy] You can be a comeback girl.
I think I can be too.
[sniffles] All right,
well, thank you guys.
All right.
-Well, see you next year.
Then you you stick to that.
You stick to that.
And now, you already know
how many routines?
[Judy] Gosh! You know a ton.
-You know what to expect.
-Thank you.
[Kelly sniffles, sighs]
Well, I will see you
at online auditions, first round.
[Kelli laughs] Okay. Okay.
[Judy laughs]
[somber music playing]
[Caroline] You never know
why you're not the right fit.
It's all subjective.
In this process,
it's this full personality
How polished are you?
Are you a good dancer?
Are you a kind person?
Do you have good morals? Are you driven?
And so when you get cut,
it could be really easy to think
that you're just not, like,
this elite woman in America right now.
Proud of you.
We both worked hard.
You didn't make it?
No, but it's okay.
[Kelly sobbing]
[Caroline] You have
such a special relationship
with every single person
you meet on the team.
We're all puzzle pieces in this puzzle.
And so when someone's taken out,
it's never the same.
It's like DCC land, Cowboys land
is this mythical, magical world,
and once you start sipping that Gatorade,
you do not wanna come out.
[Kelly] It's okay.
It's okay.
[inhales deeply]
[somber music continues]
[phone line ringing]
-[Lina] How are you, sweetie?
I'm okay. I promise I'm okay.
No, I know you are.
[tearfully] Dad and I are so proud of you.
You're the strongest girl I know.
And big things are waiting for you.
And you're gonna try next year.
And you're gonna come home.
[sniffs] Thank you.
Well, are you excited to see me
as a brunette?
I am excited to see
If I try out next year, I wanna be
exactly what they want me to be.
So I'm probably gonna keep it until then.
That's funny.
All right, I love you.
Okay, baby.
Oh my God! [laughs]
I knew she was gonna react like that.
["The End of the World"
by Skeeter Davis playing]
Why does the sun go on shining? ♪
Why does the sea rush to shore? ♪
[Reece] When you see girls that are
chasing after the same dream that get cut,
it becomes a reality of,
"Okay, I you know,
I could get cut at any moment."
"Okay, yeah, every day is not promised."
I am rooting for you guys so hard,
and this week is not gonna be easy,
and you know that.
You know it's gonna be a lot.
But you're almost there, so keep pushing.
-I just love you so much.
-I love you. I'm like No
Don't they know
It's the end of the world? ♪
It ended when I lost your love ♪
I wake up in the morning and I wonder ♪
-Why everything's the same ♪
-[song fades out]
[gentle, somber melody playing]
[music fades]
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