Making the team

Leslie D. Rose

It is May 2015, hundreds of women arrive at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas for the preliminary round of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders’ auditions. Among them is Ascension Parish’s own, 23-year-old Jaclyn (Jax) Tisdale. In just a matter of months, Tisdale would excitedly call home to tell everyone she loved that she had made the team.

A graduate of East Ascension High School (2010) and LSU elementary and special education degree holder (May 2015), Tisdale spent her extracuricula time setting herself up for her current career.

Her extensive experience includes four years as an EA Spartanette where she also served as captain; dancer at All About Dance for 18 years, where she earned a teaching certificate and taught for four years; four years as an LSU Golden Girl where she spent two year as captain/choreographer.

So when she attended the first audition for her current squad, Tisdale channeled all of her experience for the extensive process, which includes everyone being placed in groups of five, presentating intrductions and 45 seconds of improv choreography to randomly selected music. Additional audition rounds include learning and performing a short routineraphy and kickline sequence and a 100 question test on football, Dallas, current events and dance knowledge.  

Okay Saints fans, we all know what you’re thinking, but while Tisdale maintains her loyalty to her squad, she said referred to the age-old saying – You can take the girl out of Louisiana but not Louisiana out of the girl.  

What did Ascension Parish instill in you that helped you to excel?

Unity. Whether it was through Spartanettes or through my dance family at All About Dance, I always had a unit of dancers I could go to for encouragement and support. To this day, so many people that I have danced with in the past from Gonzales have reached out to congratulate me through the years. It truly makes me happy and helps me to continue to chase my dreams knowing when there are so many people always in support of my achievements.

How did your time as a Golden Girl prepare you for your career?

The Tigerband is without a doubt the most prestigious and recognizable college marching band in the world. Being a part of the band taught me how to be the best ambassador of my university as possible. As an LSU Golden Girl, I did my best to uphold the highest reputation in and out of practice/performances. This is something Kelli Finglass stressed at our very first meeting. She expects us to maintain a "World Class" reputation at all times and be the best ambassadors of the Dallas Cowboys that we can be.

What are practices like? 

Practices are scheduled at 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Every practice begins with stretching, conditioning and kicks across the floor. The rest of the night could be spent learning choreography, practicing routines, individual/whole group critiques on performances, and/or putting on the boots to practice outside on the mini-field.

What are you most looking forward to in your first season game?

The first preseason game is Aug. 29 against the Minnesota Vikings, and that will be my very first game day experience as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader! From Spartan Stadium, to Death Valley, and now AT&T Stadium – I am most excited to continue to perform on my favorite stage, a football field. I cannot wait to step onto the field as “Thunderstruck" booms from the speakers. Something about a pregame performance brings chills up my spine and so much happiness in my heart.  

There are people who don't consider cheering a sport, but some do consider cheerleaders athletes, what's your take on this? 

The amount of conditioning and rehearsing it takes to be a professional cheerleader definitely exemplifies that of an athlete. Although we may not "compete" against others there are specific qualities and skills to be perfected for every football game.

What is your advice for younger girls who someday may want to be where you are?

My biggest piece of advice is very simple – never give up! Even if you come from a small town, there is no excuse to not make it big. You just have to put in the work, time and dedication. Oh, and don't forget to thank all the people that helped you get there!

What is the career span of an NFL cheerleader, and what are your way in the future plans? 

The average cheerleader may cheer anywhere between two to four years. Having professional cheerleading experience can lead to many opportunities to spread your knowledge and expertise with other future cheerleaders/dancers. That is how I hope to use my experience in the future. After I am done cheering, I plan to move back to Louisiana, preferably Ascension Parish, and become a special education teacher. I would love to coach a dance team while working and help privately coach young ladies to improve their dance talents. One important long term goal of mine is to teach a dance class for students with special needs.