The 2012 Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders will not have a 55-year-old grandmother of two on the squad, but Sharon Simmons of Carollton, Texas, made a serious run in the audition process to become a part of the world's most famous cheerleading team.
Life got in the way when Simmons first wanted to try out for the squad in her early 20s. She had a daughter and says she didn't have the time nor the money to pursue her dream. To much fanfare from the media, she gave it a shot this past weekend but fell short of the final audition.
I spoke with Simmons this week about her attempt to become the oldest cheerleader in NFL history.
BG: What spurred all of this?
SS: I started competing in fitness at 50, and actually I had a defining moment last November, standing on a stage in Las Vegas for a fitness competition.
I had a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader outfit specially made for me for that particular competition, and I got such a warm welcome from the judges and the audience, and placed very well in a national competition wearing that as the oldest competitor.
I thought, "You know what? I need to do this right now." So I came back to Dallas and I started investigating what I needed to do because it's been 30 years since I last investigated. And so then I started taking my first dance classes in January. Rest is history.
BG: Were you disappointed that you didn't make the squad?
SS: I trained really hard for this. It's a completely different type of training than you do for fitness. And so I put 150 percent into training for the dance and the flexibility that's required. And so naturally I did feel disappointed when I was told that I wasn't going to be moving forward to the finals.
I was disappointed, but I have no regrets whatsoever. None. I would do it all over again. I had so much fun.
I learned from the girls, I enjoyed being around them. I loved all the girls, and I have my favorite even that I'm watching and supporting all the way through to the final thing, which will happen this coming weekend.
BG: So what was your specific goal?
SS: Fitness comes for anyone at any age. Age is just a number. And I've never allowed anybody else to set my limitations for me and always encourage others to do the same thing. I think if you believe in yourself and you have a goal, there's no reason why you shouldn't put every single effort into that and that you wouldn't be successful.
My original goal? I set out to simply audition. But then as I got closer, naturally I want it to make it through to the finals and it's unfortunate that I didn't.
BG: How has your family dealt with the whole process and your sudden fame?
SS: They have been my biggest cheerleaders. In fact, my husband still calls me his little cheerleader. He's supported me 150 percent throughout the entire process, and my daughter and my son, and even my two grandkids.
My granddaughter, who is 10, she used to tell me, "GiGi, you can do it." It's just as simple as that.
And my grandson watched me in the contest where I wore the outfit in Las Vegas via computer, and so he didn't really quite understand everything but he was very supportive of his GiGi doing what she does. And so my family has been incredible throughout this entire experience. And then with the sudden influx of media; again they're being very supportive with whatever I need.
BG: And so what's next for you? Returning to normal life?
SS: My life is never normal. It is normal for me, but for everyone else looking at it, everything but normal. And I love my life. I always have fun.
And my two things now—when I realized that I was not going to move forward with the cheerleaders—the very next day I was involved with another dance team. So I am continuing to dance, and we will do about four shows a year.
And I started my second book already, so I'm very excited about that. And then whatever else. I've got a lot of, let's call them potential opportunities that have crossed my path since my journey with the dancing, and so I'm entertaining those opportunities now, too.