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Cape native a Dallas cheerleader finalist

By Staff | May 8, 2015

One Cape Coral resident is going after her childhood dream this weekend in Texas hoping to continue to the next step.

“I have always wanted to become a Dallas cheerleader,” said Ashley Wilkinson, a senior at Florida State University.

The 22-year-old, who began dancing at the age of 3 at Robin Dawn Dance Academy, began watching the reality television show “Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders Making the Team” on CMT as a young girl. Wilkinson, a captain for the Florida State University Golden Girls, said some of the women on her team have made the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders team in the past, which inspired her to try out.

“I enjoy the performance aspect . . . putting smiles on people’s faces,” she said of why she continue to dance.

She registered and submitted an application to take a prep course for becoming a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader at the beginning of the year. She said the course, which is normally two and a half hours, takes participants through the preliminary competition and a mock tryout.

“You can feel out what to expect when you are at (the) final audition,” Wilkinson said. “The prep classes helped me learn the dance style. Each NFL team has their own style.”

The preliminary auditions, which were held last Saturday at the AT&T Stadium, attracted 400 women that were then separated into groups of five. Wilkinson said she had to sell herself and show them which dance moves she succeeded in the most during the preliminary audition.

In addition to dancing, the preliminary auditions also included a 92 question written exam about NFL knowledge, current events, dance technique knowledge and Dallas Cowboy history.

“That was the hardest part I have gone through so far,” Wilkinson said.

After a 12-hour day, a cut was made, which moved Wilkinson into the semi-finals last Sunday.

The semi-finals included an eight count dance routine that was taught by the Dallas Cowboys chorographer. After two and a half hours of practicing and learning the routine, Wilkinson said they then had to show the judges.

“After that they made a cut and narrowed it down to 50 finalists,” she said.

As a finalist, Wilkinson will return back to the AT&T Stadium this weekend.

“It is really exciting,” she said, adding that her goal is to make it all the way to the team. “Being my first time trying out, it is a big deal to get this far.”

Since Wilkinson participated in the prep course she has a better idea of what to expect during the finals.

On Friday she will go through an interview process with a panel of 16 judges who are judges, doctors, dentists, past Dallas Cowboy alumni and Charlotte Jones Anderson.

“It’s really cool to meet her and have her involved in the whole process,” Wilkinson said of Anderson.

She said the questions will include current events, which she stays current with. The panel will also incorporate questions that were missed on the written exam during the interview process.

“They might ask you that question one more time to see if you’ve done your homework and researched,” Wilkinson said.

She said the reason they ask current event questions is because as a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader you become an ambassador for the organization.

Saturday the finalists will do their solo talent, as well as perform the same routine they did during the semi-finals on the field at the AT&T Stadium.

Throughout the whole process, Wilkinson has been a part of the reality television show that she watched as a young girl, “Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders Making the Team” season 10. She said she was interviewed before, during and after she found out she was a finalist.

“It was an experience to me. I’ve never been on TV at this caliber before. It’s cool to see how they make the show and how it all happens behind the scenes,” Wilkinson said.

This year fans will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite Dallas Cowboy rookie through Friday at www.dallascowboys.com. She said she thinks it is really cool because it gives Cowboy fans, friends and family the opportunity to vote for their favorite.

“The candidate with the most votes gets an automatic bid to training camp,” Wilkinson said, which is a six-week camp held after the final audition.

Saturday night Wilkinson will find out if she was selected to move on to the training camp. She said every week those who attend the training camp will be narrowed down until the new team is selected.

“It’s huge making it to training camp,” Wilkinson said. “You are that one step closer.”