Ligi shoots for cheerleading stars

Jillian Sinder, News Editor

As a child, Gina Ligi, an NFL cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys, often watched the TV show, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team, a show that focused on the auditioning process for the Cowboys cheerleading team.

“[I] always looked up to the DCC as role models of what world class performers, ambassadors, and charitable community members should be,” Ligi said. 

Ever since she was young, Ligi enjoyed dancing. 

“I grew up competitively dancing since age 2,” Ligi said. “My mom noticed a love for performing in me and put me in some classes.”

With encouraging family and friends behind her, she never shied away from chasing her dreams. 

“I always saw value in performing, I loved what I did, and I had a lot of support behind me,” Ligi said. “Dance has always been such a big part of my life. The people around me saw a passion in me and they wanted to allow it to grow and blossom into its highest potential.”

Ligi specifically wanted to cheer for the DCC because of how well known and respected they are. 

“No matter where you are in the world, people of all ages and cultures recognize the Cowboy’s star and associate values of integrity, hard work, and success with America’s team,” Ligi said. “Less than 700 women have ever worn the uniform, which truly makes you realize how special this opportunity is.”

Gina Ligi performs her routine on field as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Adorned in the iconic, star-studded outfit, Ligi smiles as she dances, pursuing her lifelong aspiration of cheerleading. Photo courtesy of Gina Ligi

Ligi’s confidence and sense of self-worth allowed her to finally reach her goal of being an NFL cheerleader.

“Even in high school, I was pretty set on cheering for the Cowboys,” Ligi said. “In my 2010 yearbook, they wrote about where you see yourself in the next 10 years and I said as an NFL cheerleader. It just goes to show the power of believing in yourself and your abilities and knowing that really the only limits that you have are the limits that you put on yourself.”

Ligi said that her high school dance coach, Shannon Parker, always inspired her and guided her to where she is today.

“Shannon was such an awesome coach and role model for each of us,” Ligi said. “She was so motivating and really believed in what we could do with the program.”

Because of her love of dance, Ligi was forced to figure out how to properly manage her time. She had to balance both extracurriculars, school, and personal life.

“I’m very internally motivated; I’m a perfectionist,” Ligi said. “So I had to prioritize things at a very young age so that I was able to do it all. And I’m a very social person too so I had to manage my social life as well as academics. It’s a juggling game.”

Ligi said she has always been a hardworking and overachieving student, part of her personality that she has carried with her throughout her life. 

“I loved giving 110% to everything that I do,” Ligi said. “That’s just my personality; I’m a Virgo.”

When deciding where to continue her studies after high school, she was eventually drawn to the academic emphasis and welcoming environment at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. 

“When I got to Cal Poly, it felt like home, and I felt like everyone was really mature and had a professional focus there, but also it had a great energy about it: really genuine and real, not stuck up or anything,” Ligi said. “I really enjoyed that everyone who went there was out to improve themselves, better themselves, and to really grow.”

Ligi was also heavily influenced to go to Cal Poly by Parker, who also had attended the school for college. 

“Shannon had based our dance program at Westview off of Cal Poly’s dance program, which she actually performed in and she attended,” Ligi said. “We both ended up performing in the same dance company and there’s a memorial scholarship that I was given that she had won back when she was in college.”

As a communication studies major, Ligi gained the interpersonal skills that she says now play an essential role in her leadership on the Cowboys cheer team.

“I loved all the classes about interpersonal and business communication,” Ligi said. “I felt like it was super applicable to what I saw myself doing in the future. It prepared me to be an ambassador for an organization such as the Cowboys later on.”

Even though Ligi’s friends had different career paths after college, she continued to follow her own dreams instead of following the crowd. 

“I didn’t have any friends that came out to Dallas from Cal Poly,” Ligi said. “Everyone had their corporate jobs at the end of senior year, and I had a totally different career path. So don’t be afraid to chase your dream, even if other people are doing something else.”

Influenced by advice she received when she was a child, Ligi achieved her goal through determination and resolve, her core values since she was young. 

“I remember on my senior tiles, I wrote, ‘believe and achieve,’ because when I was really little, my dad gave me this little keepsake that says, ‘Believe in yourself’,” Ligi said. “There’s no telling what you can do when you put your mind to it. Don’t be scared to take that next step and make your dreams come true.