Kylee’ Wideman dreams of becoming a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.
She figures it might be fate. Wideman was born Jan. 30, 1994 – the day the Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII.
Next year, Wideman, a senior at N.C. State University, plans to head to Texas to pursue her dream. But first, she will perform at the Dallas stadium with her fellow members of the NCSU dance team.
The 34-member squad was recently named the best college dance team in a competition hosted by television show “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.” They will perform during halftime of the Dec. 19 Cowboys game.
Wideman, 21, entered the team in the reality show’s competition last summer without making a big deal about it to her teammates. She sent in a video of the team performing.
When the show sent her paperwork to fill out, she suspected they might have a chance at winning.
So she gathered the team at her Raleigh apartment to watch the results show on Sept. 10.
“Oh my gosh, it was crazy,” Wideman said of team members’ reactions when they realized they won. “Everyone was jumping around, screaming. I think I just sat there for a very long time.”
Then she cried. She was finally making it to Dallas.
Hard work, training
But it’s not just about Wideman’s lifelong dream. College dance teams can easily fade into the background during the hoopla of football and basketball games, and the NCSU team members say it’s nice to be recognized for their training and hard work.
The team practices for two hours starting at 6 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and also on Wednesday and Friday afternoons. Members must run a mile in under 8 minutes to be allowed to perform at football games. Timed runs are a tradition for the team, which is in its 21st year.
Discipline is crucial, and making the members run helps emphasize that, said head coach Amanda Roediger.
“There’s always something to work for and always something to push yourself for,” she said.
It also helps with endurance, Roediger said. It takes stamina to complete a 2-minute dance routine.
Next month, the team will start working with choreographers to prepare for the annual National Dance Alliance Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla., in April. Last year, NCSU placed fifth in the team dance category.
NCSU dancers say they must balance practice time with school work. About half the team members are majoring in the sciences, including chemistry and engineering, Roediger said.
Wideman, who is studying polymer and color chemistry, said the team regularly goes to the library together after practices.
‘Dream come true’
Megan Brown, 18, of Cary said she has been dancing since she was 3. She cried when she found out she made the team.
Brown said she once stayed up until 2 a.m. doing a lab report and then had to be at practice four hours later. But it’s worth it, she said, and she finds plenty of support from her teammates.
“You all want the same thing,” Brown said. “You all push yourself to strive to be better.”
For some, the games are the highlight – the bright lights, the screaming fans.
“The first time I stepped on the football field, it really was like a dream come true,” said Logan Ritchie, 20, a senior from Salisbury.
“From the time we run out from the tunnel, there are so many people,” she said. “I always describe it as a dream. ... You’re front row for it all.”
While in Dallas in December, Wideman plans to attend a pre-clinic with the Cowboys cheerleaders. Then she plans to return to Texas next spring for tryouts.
She will miss her college graduation, but she said it’s worth the sacrifice. She’s applying for jobs in Dallas – textile chemistry and sales rep positions.
“I’m so fine with it,” Wideman said of missing the big day that will wrap up her education at NCSU. “It’s my life’s goal.”