Ready for ‘Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team’ scoop? HL talked EXCLUSIVELY with Melissa Rycroft about season 12 ‘surprises’ and more. Plus, we have an EXCLUSIVE preview of the new episode!
This season of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team is taking things to the next level! Season 12 follows hopeful cheerleaders from around the world as they head to AT&T Stadium with the common lifelong dream of becoming a member of the world’s most celebrated cheerleading squad – theDallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Melissa Rycroft, a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and DWTS champ, is returning this season to offer individual coaching and be a mentor to the girls. HollywoodLife.com got the chance to talk to Melissa before the upcoming episode about her experience this season. Check out our Q&A below!
What was it like coming back this season?
Melissa Rycroft: I always like coming back because when I get to work with the girls during training camp, it’s always fun to come back the next year and see how much they’ve grown. I’ve always got those few that we kind of develop a bit of a bond, ones that I’m definitely fighting for, and that I see really want it. When I see them have a great year and are going into their second, it makes me feel really proud and happy for them to have helped in any way in their journey and helped them accomplish this dream.
Do you bring anything you learned from your days as a DCC every time you come back for individual coaching or mentoring?
Melissa Rycroft: Absolutely. That’s really all I can pull from is my own personal experience. I can relate to a lot of the girls because I had struggled during training camp. Towards the very end, I was one of the ones getting called in, you know, just kind of waiting for the week to finish so that I knew that I was safe. So I can totally relate on all aspects of trying to gain confidence, trying to get the style. Just being this young little girl in the completely overwhelming world and trying to comprehend everything that’s going on. It takes me back every time.
What stands out about a performer when you’re watching and mentoring? What are you always looking for?
Melissa Rycroft: I’m looking for somebody that is having fun while their dancing. I keep trying to tell these girls that as stressful as this is, you’re auditioning for an entertainment job. That’s what you’re doing. You want to be an entertainer and a performer. You can never lose that as hard as this process can be. You know, you have to remind the girls that you love dancing and you love being here and don’t let the nerves take that away from you. They’ve all made it this far. They’re the best of the best, so keep having fun and don’t lose sight of that.
Will there be some surprises this year?
Melissa Rycroft: I think there’s always surprises. You know, this year I think some of the biggest surprises are that midway through training camp there were some veterans that were starting to get noticed in not the best way by Judy [Trammell] and Kelly [Finglass]. Normally, once a vet makes it back into training camp, it’s kind of smooth sailing. This season, there are some vets that are having to push their limits even harder once they’re into training camp.
It’s been 12 years since the show started. Have the coaches changed what they’re looking for now?
Melissa Rycroft: I think it has definitely made the judges judge harder. I say that just because the talent that has come in year after year has significantly gotten better. I think fans of the show, girls who have grown up dancing, are now exposed to what it’s really like to be a Cowboys cheerleader. Before the show, it was just this premise of they’re just a bunch of pretty girls out there with pom-poms. What the show has shown is that these are really intelligent, well-rounded, beautiful young women. When people see what goes into it, they want to be a part of it. They see that they’re the best of the best, so the talent level is getting better and better. Therefore, your expectations as a judge get higher.
As it gets further into the competition, are there any tips or advice you give to the girls who have made it to the end but just have to make it one step further?
Melissa Rycroft: Yes, I just say, “Don’t ever give them a reason to cut you. You’ve made it this far and you would never want to go home because you had a bad night. If you get cut, you want it to be for something that you couldn’t have helped. Don’t ever give Kelly and Judy a reason to cut you when you’ve made it that far.”
Would you ever consider being a full-time coach?
Melissa Rycroft: I don’t know. You know, I’ve sat in deliberations with them before, and I’m not as in the process as they are. So there’s a level that they have to emotionally stay out of it. I’ve never had that experience yet. I get so emotionally attached to these girls. You know, they’re debating on a girl and I’m like, “But she’s so cute. She wants it so bad and she’s working so hard.” You have to be able to remove that element when you’re making the team. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m cut out for making that final call, to be honest.
We’re in season 12, so how does this season compare to the rest?
Melissa Rycroft: Well, like I said, I think you get an in-depth look at more of what these girls are going through. I know that when I mentored them, we got out of the dance studio a little bit. I was trying to get them out of their comfort zones a little more. You get to know them on a more personal level. I think you definitely have girls this year that you’re rooting for, and like I said, they’re some vets who kind of come into question that we’ve gotten to know throughout the years. As an audience member, your kind of like, “What’s going on?” You think the vets are safe, and so I just think the show does a great job of elevating things. This year, we’re stepping out of the dance studio and getting to see a different side of these girls.
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on CMT!
HollywoodLifers, who do you think will make the team? Let us know!