Campus News

Q&A With Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and UK Alumna Lily Johnson

Watch a clip from last week's episode featuring UK alumna Lily Johnson on "Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team."

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 1, 2019) — Hundreds of women audition, but only a select group will secure spots in the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders training camp. Even fewer actually make it on the team. Lily Johnson, a University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information alumna, is one of those few women.

UKNow caught up with the Tennessee native to share her journey to becoming a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader.

UKNow: What is the process of becoming a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader?

Johnson: For most women the process of becoming a DCC begins way before the first round of auditions. As with anything, preparation is the key to being successful. This means taking as many dance classes as possible, making sure you’re in your best shape, and also studying for the interview and test portions. Once you get to auditions there is the preliminary round, semifinals, and then finals. After finals, training camp begins. Training camp starts with 45 women and lasts a total of 10 weeks to get the final roster of 36 cheerleaders.

UKNow: What are you most looking forward to about being on the team?

Johnson: Too many things to pick just one! Entertaining fans, inspiring young girls and boys and creating timeless friendships — just to name a few.

UKNow: After not making the team at last year’s auditions what motivated you to re-audition?

Johnson: Being so close to achieving my dream last year, I knew if I didn’t give it another shot I’d always think, “What if?” Getting cut on the last night of last year was obviously tough, but it gave me the motivation and drive to come back even stronger.

UKNow: What does it mean to you to make the team?

Johnson: Finally accomplishing my dream and making this team means everything! It’s proof that not everything you want comes easy, but having faith in yourself, a strong support system and an unquestionable work ethic will take you a long way!

UKNow: You were on UK’s dance team. How did the program prepare you for the Dallas Cowboys?

Johnson: Being a member of the UK Dance Team definitely put me on the right track for dancing in the NFL. Not only did it give me the experience I needed of performing on a field, it also helped me learn how to successfully balance a hectic schedule!

UKNow: Did any of your experiences at UK help you along your journey?

Johnson: Being a fourth generation UK student (following my great grandfather, grandfather, and dad) I grew up loving and supporting UK my entire life, but I had little idea what an impact this school would have on me. My experience at the University of Kentucky completely changed me for the better. My involvement in the UK Dance Team, Alpha Delta Pi, and as a student in general shaped me into the best version of myself. I was able to take that best version of myself to Texas to chase and achieve my dreams. I will forever be grateful for the experiences, memories, and friendships the University of Kentucky gave me!

Follow Johnson along her journey now on “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team” airing 9 p.m. Eastern Time Fridays, on CMT, or on Instagram @lilyjay21.

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Lily Johnson
Lily Johnson

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion two years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. The Chronicle of Higher Education judged us a “Great College to Work for," and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for three straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.