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East County Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2016 3 years ago

She's got spirit

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Braden River graduate earns spot on Dolphins' cheerleading squad.
by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

A reality television series sparked the groundwork for her professional future. 

The premiere of “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team” had just aired and the young girl was mesmerized by the show, which followed the auditioning process and the making of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad. 

One night after the show aired, 8-year-old Ally walked out of her room and proudly told her father, Gregory, that she was going to be a professional cheerleader. 

“I watched it religiously,” Ally said. 

Ally may have been 10 years away from being old enough to audition at the time, but in the years that followed, the 2016 Braden River graduate never lost sight of her childhood dream, basing at least one Halloween costume around the show. 

Although it wasn’t until this past February when Ally was talking about her future with her mother, Laurie, that the idea of being a professional cheerleader resurfaced. 

Laurie asked her daughter about the the possibility of trying out for the Miami Dolphins. They were Florida natives, after all and had been Dolphins fans for years. 

On a whim, Ally looked up the information on a whim and saw a series of Wednesday evening cheerleading prep classes were going to be held at the team’s training facility that month. 

Ally drove to Miami for a class where she learned everything from high kicks to dance routines. 

“It was the most enjoyable thing of my life,” Ally said. “I told myself then ‘I’m going to make it.’” 

Ally returned to Miami for four additional prep classes while juggling her coursework for Braden River and practice sessions at the Lakewood Ranch YMCA at the same time. 

“She was very intrinsically motivated to make the squad all on her own fruition,” Laurie said. 

On April 23, Ally went through a series of preliminary and semifinal auditions and interviews, which included performing two dances, a kick line and a solo, before advancing to the final round of tryouts May 1 — the day after her senior prom. 

She was the last person to be called. 

“I was getting my stuff prepared to leave when they called my name,” Ally said. I was crying and I remember saying to one of the coaches ‘You called me last. Seriously? They were just like ‘I knew you could handle it.’” 

Ally went to prom for an hour and a half before driving to Miami to prepare for finals the next day. 

Following the final round, the coaches announced the 37 cheerleaders chosen for the squad. Ally was the 19th person called. 

“I remember looking into the audience crying and seeing my mom jumping up and down off the ground,” Ally said. “I’ve maybe seen my dad cry once in my life. This was the second time.” 

“Ally earned every piece of this,” Laurie said. “It’s all her. She stayed true to herself with her determination and fortitude the entire way through the process until the end.” 

Ally was one of the youngest cheerleaders named to the Dolphins squad. The squad was officially announced July 22 although Ally has been practicing three days a week with the team since May 10. 

Ally didn’t tell anyone she was trying out. So when word began to spread around Braden River, Ally was met with everything ranging from genuine happiness to the occasional eye roll. 

“It’s surreal. I’m very grateful,” Ally said. “It’s an indescribable feeling.” 

On May 31, Ally traveled to Barbados for the Dolphins calendar shoot, an honor typically reserved for veteran cheerleaders. 

The trip ran through June 7, forcing Ally to miss her high school graduation June 4. During the wrap party dinner, the squad recognized Ally, who finished in the top 10% of her high school class, for her accomplishment. 

“This is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Ally said. “I graduated. I just did it in another country.” 

Being the youngest member on the team will be nothing new for Ally. 

Ally was the only freshman to make the Pirates' varsity cheerleading squad after teaching herself how to do a standing back tuck in her backyard. 

“One of my lifelong goals was to be a cheerleader in high school, but nothing compares to what I do now,” Ally said. “It’s a whole different world, but it’s so much fun.” 

With four different coaches in four years, Ally, who was named Braden River’s cheerleading captain her senior year, learned how to rely on herself and those close to her to achieve her dreams. 

That self motivation has allowed her to adjust to a new city and a new career relatively quickly. 

“My family is my biggest cheerleader, and they’ve prepared me to do this on my own," Ally said. "I didn’t want help from anyone.

“If you just listen to yourself, take a deep breath and take a step back, everything will be OK,” Ally said. 

Since making the squad, Ally has attended additional technique, kick and fitness sessions even though she isn’t required to do so. 

“You’re never going to be the best unless you put in extra work,” Ally said. “There’s always room for improvement. Being a Miami Dolphins cheerleader means responsibility, and it means that I’m able to live out my dream and do something that I’m so passionate about.” 

On Aug. 25, Ally will put on her Miami Dolphins cheerleading uniform and take the field for the first time during the Dolphins preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons, at the Citrus Bowl, in Orlando. Ally made the pregame squad and also will be a part of the Dolphins’ intro video on the Jumbotron. 

Since the game will be so close to her hometown, Ally will have plenty of family and friends in attendance cheering her on, including her parents who have been with her every step of the way. 

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