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Former Ironwood Ridge standout fulfills dream, becomes Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader

September 14, 2016 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365

Heather O'Connor is a hometown girl who made it big. Really big.

A former youth athlete in the Oro Valley area, Heather went on to try her hand at volleyball at Ironwood Ridge. She even tried pole vaulting for the Nighthawks but there was always the pull of dance.

Spiritline is one of the many sports/activities offered by the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) and Heather took full advantage of the opportunity and perfected her skill at the University of Arizona. She is now on the biggest stage of them all – she is a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. recently sat down with Heather and asked about her experience:


Heather and her parents (Courtesy Photo)

What sports did you play at Ironwood Ridge?

A: “I played freshman and JV Volleyball during my first two years of high school.  I attempted pole-vaulting for one season of track, when I realized dance was my true calling...  Outside of IRHS, I danced competitively and taught dance classes at Showbiz Academy of Dance.

At what age did you start cheerleading?
A: “My mom put me in my first ballet class at the age of three. I grew up dancing competitively and was trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, pom and hip-hop. In college I spent three years dancing on the University of Arizona Pomline, where I discovered my love for cheering on the sidelines of football games.

Tell me about you experience at the University of Arizona:
A: “Prior to moving to moving to Dallas to pursue my dream of becoming a DCC, I spent four awesome years as an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona where I earned my bachelor's degree in Business Administration. While I was a student my involvements varied from ASUA student government, marching in football halftimes with the Pride of Arizona Marching Band, dancing on the Arizona Pomline, giving campus tours as an Arizona Ambassador, and preserving the unity and welfare of the University as a member of the Bobcats Senior Honorary. I plan to stay connected to my Alma Mater as an active member of the UA Alumni Association and as a #WildcatForLife!

When did you decide to try out for the Cowboys? Was it something you always wanted to do?
A: I have dreamt of becoming a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader since I was a little girl. I've watched the reality TV show for many seasons and looked forward to watching the girls dance at halftime of the Thanksgiving football game every year. After performing at my first football game with the Arizona Pomline my sophomore year, I realized that the football field was destined to be my stage. That was when my dream transformed into a goal and I created a plan of action to help prepare me for auditions after college graduation.

Will you be on the Reality TV show?
A: “Yes I will be featured on the TV show, alongside my 36 talented teammates! It has been so much fun to watch each week and reminisce on the journey we took this summer to make this prestigious team. Be sure to tune in to "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team" Season 11 on Thursday nights at 9/8 CT!

How did they inform you that you made the squad?
A: “After a competitive audition process and a challenging two months of training camp, our director, Kelli Finglass, announced the 2016-2017 Dallas Cowboys Cheerleading squad at the end of the summer. At the end of a long practice at AT&T Stadium, Kelli announced that the next time we practiced, it would be as the new official squad. Our rookie class was so overwhelmed with emotion and excitement; it was by far one of the most memorable moments of my life

How did your parents react?
A: The night that the squad was announced, I called my parents from the locker room to let them know that I had officially become a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. They were thrilled! Hearing them say that they were proud of me and that my hard work had paid off made that moment so much more rewarding than it already was. I am so grateful for all of the time, effort, prayers, and encouragement they put into helping me to achieve my dream. I'm hoping they will have many trips to Dallas planned for the near future!