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    Dunn: Wedding bells for Newport Beach councilmember, Cowboys fan
    • May 2, 2024

    Newport Beach Mayor Pro-Tem Joe Stapleton didn’t need to star in the television series “The Bachelor” to find his dream girl.

    Stapleton, a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan who grew up in Tucson and played youth football for many years on a Cowboys team, was enjoying dinner one night at The Pacific Club in Newport Beach, where he serves on the board of directors, when a cousin mentioned that she knew a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and that the two of them should meet.

    They did – and talked on the phone for three hours. What followed was a long-distance relationship, with Stapleton in Newport Beach and his fiancée, Julie Jacobs, in Dallas, where she lived for 17 years and still owns a house.

    The couple is planning to tie the knot Oct. 19 in Tuscany.

    Jacobs moved to Newport Beach and became the best promoter in Stapleton’s 2022 campaign for a City Council seat, thanks to her door-to-door treks, experience making public appearances and generating interest for an organization, important components for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, who are grilled with training in media relations, etiquette, referees, game rules and regulations and a variety of public persona details.

    There’s no fraternizing with the players, but Jacobs admitted her favorite player “by far” was Jason Whitten, a former Dallas tight end.

    The cheerleaders do their own hair and makeup. They arrive at 6 a.m. for Sunday day games to practice all morning. Every cheerleader must either have a full-time job, be a full-time student or a full-time mother to qualify for the glamorous role of a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, the No. 1 dance and cheerleading sports outfit in the world, according to sports lore. The Laker Girls Dance Team is ranked No. 2, Jacobs said.

    But the life of a professional dancer in the spotlight is challenging and competitive. Despite some serious knee injuries, Jacobs lasted four years as a Cowboys cheerleader. She dislocated her left knee three times after performing a “jump split” in cowboy boots, in which they land on the ground while doing the splits.

    Once, during a game, Jacobs put her knee back in place and continued with the routines. After, she was examined by a member of the medical team in the locker room to make sure she was healthy, and a cheerleading director quipped, “Iis that why you took an extra step,” she said.

    Jacobs was inspired to become a Cowboys cheerleader after watching the team play on Thanksgiving Day, a longtime tradition for the franchise. There were 1,000 girls trying out in the first round, only 35 would make the team.

    “My dad said, ‘Wow, so you went to college for this?’ But I told him, yeah, I honestly think I’m going to make it,” she said. “He was very proud of me and he’s been my biggest cheerleader.”

    What does it take to become a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader?

    “You really have to like to dance,” Jacobs said, and it’s not for the salary because first-year cheerleaders earn a whopping $50 a game, with an increase to $100 a game in your second year.

    Most of the cheerleaders have a short career span. By Jacobs’ fourth and final year, she was making $200 a game. Some cheerleaders move on to careers in the media, and a few worked in theater on Broadway in New York.

    “I still miss performing. I get jealous when I see them out there,” said Jacobs, whose Cowboys calling lasted from 2006 to 2010, from her first tryout to making the all-star team.

    Jacobs, now a Pilates instructor in the area, discussed her Cowboys career April 16 at the Oasis Senior Center in Corona del Mar, site of the public forum “Tackling Sports,” hosted by former NFL referee Laird Hayes and Stu News Newport Publisher Tom Johnson.

    Richard Dunn, a longtime sportswriter, writes the Dunn Deal column regularly for The Orange County Register’s weekly, The Coastal Current North.

    ​ Orange County Register