than just a Cowboys cheerleader
Sunday morning in April 2000. At Texas Stadium, The Dallas Cowboys,
normal owners of the field, are gone. In their place 800 women take
the field, curlers in their hair, show makeup thickly applied. As
they stretch and warm-up, tailor-made workout outfits show off bodies
toned by training and thinned by painful diets. A nervous tension
permeates the stadium. Its audition day for the Dallas Cowboys
girl walks onto the field. She may be in the wrong place, or at
least on the wrong day. Her hair has been blow-dried straight. Her
makeup is understated, nothing showy. She wears borrowed clothes
and carries a guitar and amplifier.
Kristin Holt, a junior political science and Spanish major,
works on homework in her apartment. Holt is a Dallas Cowboys
Cheerleader and was named Miss Burleson last fall.
to try out three days ago. She has almost no formal dance training.
Shes never cheered a day in her life. For the final round,
the talent exhibition when competitors typically show off
their best dance moves she drags out that amplifier, plugs
in the guitar and plays Cowboy Take Me Away.
And at the end
of the day, when the numbers go up, Kristin Holt has a passing score.
The girl who decided three days earlier to try out on a whim, had
become the newest Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader; and the most hated
girl on TCUs campus.
a sudden, I wasnt Kristin Holt anymore, I was the Dallas Cowboys
Cheerleader at TCU, said Holt, now a junior political science
and Spanish major at TCU. Thats what I still get introduced
as. And I dont mind it so much, but my challenge is in overcoming
that stereotype people have of it
already have a stereotype of an attractive girl. They must be snobby.
They must be self-righteous. They must not care about people. Thats
exactly the completely wrong thing.
Holt would later
make the traveling squad of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, the
elite 12-person team that represents the squad around the world.
Two years later she would win a new competition, sweeping every
category of the Miss Burleson pageant. Now she faces the Miss Texas
pageant in July.
But her successes
have also brought her to have mortal enemies. Mostly girls she has
never met. It would give her false friends, fair-weather types who
flock to the uniform but could care less about the girl who wears
it. And through it all, despite the success, she would insist that
her one special attribute is that she cares deeply about the people
around her. Even if those people hate her.
has a very strong sense of who she is. And thats based on
her faith, said Jason Illian, 26, a TCU alumnus and Holts
boyfriend. At the end of the day I dont think it matters
to her if she succeeds at those things or if she doesnt. Thats
not what motivates her.
What does motivate
her, Holt said, are people.
were times when I wanted to quit, but I had a stronger sense of
self and purpose and faith than over half the girls on the squad,
them who were well into their 30s or late 20s and were married were
asking me marital advice, and (wanting me to) help them. That made
it so worth my experience and my time.
those people can turn on her. When Holt found out that she had made
the cheerleading squad, she called her roommate with the news. When
she got home that night, she found a door decorated in silver and
blue, Dallas Cowboys colors, balloons on the floor, and a sign on
the door that said New Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader which
stayed up for a few days. Then, as Holt and her roommate were in
bed, someone would run by the door and throw rocks. This continued
for several days, until Holt went out one morning.
of saying Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, it said Dallas Cowboys Cheerbitch
on the door, she said. This was my freshman year in
Colby (Hall). I hadnt even been there that long to make somebody
mad. I didnt know what I had done to them.
The next night,
after something else hit her door, she opened it just in time to
see two girls run down the hall. Holt caught up to them as they
were going into the elevator. Putting her hand on the doors to keep
them from closing, Holt stared the two girls down.
I just want you to know that Im praying for you,
she told them. And she walked away.
Holt said she learned that even people who didnt know Kristin
Holt the person hated Kristin Holt the Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
know how to be happy for each other, she said. We just
dont. If you have something that somebody else doesnt,
they automatically hate you for it, because they dont have
roommate, junior political science major Chelsea Hudson, said those
people usually change their minds once they meet her.
most people fall in love with her really fast, Hudson said.
I think there are just some people who are selected to do
great things and inspire others. Kristins one of those people.
In July, Holt
will compete in the Miss Texas pageant, after being named Miss Burleson
last fall. She won the title the first time she stepped onto a pageant
how to do the pageant walk the second before I went on the evening
gown portion of the pageant, and I won, Holt said.
every category. I won first place in evening gown, first place in
swimsuit, first place in interview, and first place in talent. And
this is all stuff I put together a week and a half before the pageant.
make me better than the other girls? Absolutely not. But it does
show that in a lot of things that I do, Im following my natural
swing. And thats just being with people and relating to people
on a real level.
dont want somebody that can act really well we have
another industry in this world for that. But with things like cheerleading
and pageants, they want a real person, and its hard to find
one in that industry.
is the same aspect of Holt that draws people to her.
root of everything, for Kristin its about the people,
Illian said. When she comes to you and says hello, or gives
you a hug, its not for show. Its for real. Thats
people, Holt said, that she will treasure. Not the uniform, not
the travel, not the exposure. All those things are means to an end:
The people. People like the high school freshman she mentors and
invests in as part of K-Life, a Christian parachurch ministry.
the members of the TCU Gospel Choir and TCU Steppers, two groups
of which Holt comprises the entire white population. People like
the prospective TCU students and alumni she volunteers her time
with as president of TCUs Student Foundation.
And people like
the soldiers Holt has met in Bosnia, or Kosovo, or Macedonia, Hungary,
Italy, Japan or Korea, all stops she made with the USO tour.
flying 800 feet above the ground in Korea, where the southern part
is not communist and the northern part is communist, and youre
right on the border, and you look over into North Korea, and theres
not a light in the country because theres no electricity,
and you look at South Korea, where youre staying at your Hilton
Hotel, and its all lit up, its just amazing, she
said. Especially when its Christmas Eve and youre
with American soldiers who havent been home in eight months.
Over the linked
headsets everyone is wearing, Holts pilot asks her to sing
Silent Night. As she sings, the soldier cries.
the only one shes seen in tears this trip. One man missed
the birth of his firstborn child. One missed his 15-year anniversary.
Grandmothers, mothers, sisters have died. And they cant be
we had no idea what it meant to them to have part of America come
all the way over there and spend Christmas Day with them,
But Holt has
an idea. And thats what drives her.
meet someone, I want them to say, She made me feel better.
She encouraged me. She inspired me to do this, Holt
said. So many times people dont pursue their dreams
because they think theyre never going to happen. Well, why
so many people are so worried about achieving something that it
takes up all their thoughts. Ive learned over the past few
years that lifes just fun. If you have that source of happiness,
life is fun.
Fun, she says,
despite the animosity that comes with success. Fun because life
has brought her what she wants the most relationships.
achievement) is another story I can use to relate to someone else,