Destiny can sometimes be a hard “thing” to comprehend fully; unless you’re Judy Trammell, who can look back at her 27-year choreography career with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders with absolute certainty that fate played a part in every step she took.
Well, fate and her sister-in-law.
Trammell didn’t necessarily have designs on being a cheerleader herself when she attended auditions with her sister-in-law back in 1980. A trained and proficient dancer, she was more than qualified, but not exactly jumping or high-kicking her way through the door.
“My sister-in-law talked me into auditioning, and the first year I chickened out and didn’t show up,” Trammell revealed in an interview with CMT.com. “We talked about it again for another year, and then we went together. She ended up making the team but wasn’t able to do the games, so she had to leave. That was hard in and of itself because she was my sister-in-law, and I made the team.”
From there, it was quite the journey for Trammell, who was a newlywed with a husband who didn’t know what to expect of the experience either.
“I told my husband, and we both looked at each other like, ‘What do we do now?!’ I didn’t know I was going to be spending every night away from him at rehearsals.”
Back then, Trammell was working away and tirelessly rehearsing just like the girls she coaches today.
“I remember having the same fears that these girls have,” she admitted. “One time I was called up by our director and my heart sank. She was just changing me to a different group, but of course, you think ‘Oh my gosh, she’s gonna cut me.’”
The audition process, both past and present camps, is not for the faint of heart. Dancing for the DCC requires incredible dedication, talent, discipline, and athleticism, make no mistake about it.
“Oh, they are very much athletes,” Trammell says of the cheerleaders and hopefuls.
“These rehearsals that they’re going through right now, especially being judged every night at training camp — they have to be on their toes continually, and it’s really, really hard. I’m not sure in my days that I could do what they do now,” she said with a serious laugh.
“They warm up every day, they kick every day and run a routine every night, which is hard in itself because they aren’t just short combinations. They’re one-and-a-half minute routines every night, and they’re expected to come back the next night, and randomly we watch — let’s say they’ve learned forty routines so far — they don’t know which ones are going to be played, and they’re being judged on each one, so they have to be on their toes.”
And these girls are, that’s for sure. They’re putting in work at home, rehearsing in their cars, driving long distances for rehearsals, balancing camp with full-time jobs, but they’re present for the camp and for each other, too. The camaraderie we’ll see on the show between the hopefuls is arguably a true mirror reflection of the friendship between Trammell and director Kelli McGonagill Finglass, who’ve been in the trenches together for 27 years.
“We do have a great, unique relationship,” Trammell says of her friendship with Finglass. “We can finish each other’s sentences, I know what she’s thinking!”
But these two also know how to run this organization with the utmost class and professionalism.
“We can laugh, but we’re very, very serious about picking the right team. Sometimes we argue about who that last person might be that we need to cut to be able to get our numbers down to 36.”
“We really respect each other’s opinions,” she says. “We’re close on and off the field, our families are close. It’s just been a really great relationship. We’re together more than we are with our families, so we have to get along!”
And although the journey for Trammell and Finglass has come with many sacrifices, it is well worth it to be part of such a legacy and to be an instrumental part of steering that legacy for future generations.
“It’s amazing to me,” she says. “You don’t think of it that way when you’re first auditioning. I’ll always be proud of that.”
But her favorite part of being a forever Dallas Cowboys cheerleader?
“The friendships,” she said.
“Everyone says that once they’ve been a cheerleader that the best part is the friendships that you make. It might not be on the football field but on the bus rides traveling places together, in the locker room just having those belly gut laughs with your friends, and you take those friends with you.”
Tune in tonight (Aug. 2) to see Trammell and Finglass inspire a whole new season of hopefuls when Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team premieres at 10 p.m. ET.