Life Lessons From The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders

Season Five, Episode 2, of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders – Making the Team favorite moment:  During the panel interviews, DCC Director Kelli Finglass, asks four cheerleader hopefuls:

“Line by line, starting with you, say the national anthem…”

Ms. Finglass defined the moment as “painful”.  In the privacy of my own home, I, too, squirmed.  Under pressure, could I solo the song word for word?   When the show was over, I dashed to my computer monitor to Google The Star Spangled Banner.

As I hummed a few bars in my mind, I realized, probably not.  I get hung up on “O’er the ramparts we watch’d.”  Opening up my faithful Webster Dictionary, I clearly catalogued ‘rampart’ to memory by definition.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  My desk calendar was marked for the 15th of May for preliminary DCC tryouts.  I dropped Sunni Cranfill a note letting her know she would be in my prayers.  She emailed back to remind me that the veterans return on May 27th for final try-outs and the panel interview.

Panel Interviews?  My Scooby-Do ears perked up and I couldn’t help myself. Ignoring my mantra of “Resist the Temptation” I marched forward in giving the two-year veteran (and former Miss Texas) unasked for, unsolicited, and completely free advice.

I told her to be sure to know the words to the national anthem.  And if you are going to give free advice, why stop there?  I added:

My mom and I were talking about the national anthem…and we both think it is really difficult.  Mom told me Congress discussed changing it a while back to either God Bless America or America the Beautiful.  I was really surprised!  In a way, the words to O Say Can You See don’t flow so much, from a literary standpoint.  I had to look up the word ‘rampart’ after last year’s DCC interviews.  And I think the national anthem is further complicated by years of standing around groups of people who make up the words as they go along.  Why would I think the guy next to me drinking his brewsky knows the words?  Just because he goes to every Red Sox Game?  Is it broad stripes, bright stripes….hum hum hum stripes?  I think people even screw that up!

Why did I write all that to my friend Sunni?  Yes, the brewsky guy is pretty funny.  I’ve also heard on good authority if you don’t know the words to a song just sing ‘watermelon.’  Had I’d known that life lesson when I emailed Sunni, I surely would have thrown that morsel in, too.

What’s not so funny is that during Megan’s cancer journey explaining myself became my absolute pet peeve.  Nearly every day I had a phone call wondering why I wasn’t taking Megan to Nebraska Med Center?  (Her renowned endocrinologist worked at the Med Center, and consulted with her oncologist at Methodist Eastabrook Cancer Center.  In addition, Megan’s urologist was trained at Nebraska Med Center.)  Or I was asked as why we didn’t drive Megan up to Mayo Clinic?  (Megan was on a trial study supervised by her oncologist and Mayo Clinic.  Also we did go see the world expert at NIH who specializes in adrenal cancer research and studies.)  After the big boys of medicine were discussed, my daily dose of free advice rounded up with vitamins and magic potion drinks.  Wow, they’d give me the first case free.  (We tried it, and the acidity in the juice tore Megan’s stomach apart.)

Sweet Jesus….it’s been seven years.  The senseless use of my time as so many others demanded an explanation on the choices I’d made based on the extensive research I’d already done.

But I’m a human like the rest of you, and before I shelled out my free advice to Sunni Cranfill regarding third grade memory work on the Star Spangled Banner, I failed to research her talents and patriotism.  No sooner than my free advice was out there in cyber space, the truth appeared in the form of a You Tube video.

A life lesson well-learned.  I’ll remember to be slow to give unasked for words of wisdom.  In front of a crowd of 80,000 my friend knew all the words.

Key Notes:

  • Sunni Cranfill advanced to Training Camp for the 2011-2012 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
  • The three women singing in the video are Brittany Evans, Cassie Trammell, and Sunni Cranfill.  Sign them up for next year’s Super Bowl!
  • Congress proclaimed The Star Spangled Banner the U.S. National Anthem in 1931.
  • Regarding unsolicited comments, Miss Manners says, “Sadly, most of what people say in passing is the first thing that pops into their heads, whether or not it is obvious, silly or even true.”
  • Miss Manners’s 10 Worst Faux Pas cites my offense at
    • 2.  HELPFULNESS  When this consists of minding other people’s business, by volunteering, unasked, your opinion of how they should lead their lives.

On A Lighter Note:

  • Joe, the art student that lives with me, told me that he did not know what a rampart was in third grade.  However, he now knows its exact definition and said ‘I probably learned it on a video game.’

Category: The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders - Making the Team



  1. WHY exactly, I have not subscribed to your blog is a question best left to one more qualified than I. I love your writing, your humor, your humility and your honesty. I am constantly giving unsolicited advice so please don’t feel too alone on that account. I am sorry that you felt you had to explain yourself with regard to your choices with Megan. As the saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, I’m sure you’ve heard that old chestnut.

    Anyway, I’ll be scrolling up to enter my email addy so I can keep up with your writings. I too am totally, utterly obsessed with DCC:MTT and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in general so I look forward to your editorials and sharing thoughts on that subject, as my friends look at me like I have a lobster growing out of my head when I try to explain said obsession. BTW, I am now running through my entire stored repertoire of songs, replacing the lyrics with watermelon. It really does work.

    1. My dear MKick,

      You made me laugh out loud. Literally, I rolled my head back and audibly laughed. This is no small thing, especially to my group of friends that equate me to Wednesday Adams from the Adams family. A smirk from me is full blown hysteria. So, external laughter is a great joy…a great gift. For that, I thank you!

      One does not need a lobster growing from ones head to LOVE the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. They are amazing. Talented. Intelligent. Gifted.

      I should be so lucky to be included in a branding seminar with Ms. Finglass. Ms. Trammel, too, demonstrates a standard of excellence that should be a mantra in our public schools. And as far as personal trainer Jay Johnson; in a world that makes excuses, we need his military non-nonsense approach.

      For today, thank you for loving what I love. I’ve had many life changes since the death of my daughter, and the most recent changes, though wonderful, have prohibited me from blogging. Please know my absence is only for a season. And for this season, THANK YOU for your note!

  2. Jennifer,

    You are so hilarious.

    As though you were not funny enough in grade school, now for all the days of my life when I hear the national anthem my thoughts will drift to you and “Oh, Jose can you see?”

    I could write a book about “Life Lessons from the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.” In the midst of those moments where we face a life truth, it’s good to have a good laugh about ourselves. (I’m still horrified that I gave former Miss Texas try-out tips for the DCC.)

    Life can be so funny when we least expect it. I so appreciate you!

  3. So I guess this would be the appropriate time to admit that until I was way too old to know better, I thought the song began with Oh, Jose, can you see? Never occurred to me to wonder who Jose was. I suppose that’s what I get for taking all those Spanish classes…

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Article by: Valerie Bourdain

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