As a rookie with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Kennedy Hannan electrified fans of “America’s Team” this past season with a pregame dance routine to AC/ DC’s “Thunderstruck” that ended with an iconic kick line and jump split.
In joining “America’s Sweethearts,” the lifelong dancer achieved a goal she’d held since her 11th birthday when her dad took her to her first Cowboys game. And now, when Hannan looks up at her youngest fans in the stands, she remembers what it was like in their shoes.
“This dream was so important to me because I wanted more than anything to make a difference in this world,” says Hannan (22BBA), a University of Iowa marketing grad and former member of the Iowa Dance Team. “I want to inspire young girls and boys to be able to go after their dreams and never shy away from them.”
“I wanted more than anything to make a difference in this world.” —Kennedy Hannan
Among those she hopes to inspire are patients at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, whom she honored at a Cowboys home game this past fall by wearing custom boots that paid tribute to the Hawkeye Wave. Hannan shared her love for one of college sports’ greatest traditions with her teammates and fans as part of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders’ annual My Cause My Boots game, which raises awareness for causes that mean the most to the team.
Hannan used to visit patients at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital while on the Iowa Dance Team. “Every time I would shake my poms, their eyes would just light up,” says the Marion, Iowa, native.
On the sidelines for Iowa football games from 2018-22, she also watched a new tradition emerge—the Hawkeye Wave, in which fans at Kinnick Stadium show their support for the pediatric patients and their families. Hannan says of the tradition, “I just felt a wave of emotion and so proud to represent a great university that cares so much for the kids who are in the children’s hospital.”
Hannan says her time as a Hawkeye grew her passion for sports and helped prepare her to become a Cowboys cheerleader, which she describes as “one of my most proud accomplishments.” The audition process that began last spring involved two rounds of remote interviews and dancing before an intense training camp and finals in Dallas. Out of hundreds of applications, a select group of rookies and veterans attended the training camp, and, this past July, Hannan became one of 36 to make the team. “Just knowing that I’ve been given the opportunity to represent something that’s so much bigger than myself is truly the greatest honor,” says Hannan, who also works full-time in marketing.
This past season, Hannan cheered for a Cowboys team that went undefeated at home and placed first in the NFC East before being upset in the playoffs by the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card round. Hannan also joined the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders for community outreach, such as visiting children’s hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Now in the offseason, Hannan is focused on training to make next season’s squad. “Everyone has to earn it back, which makes being in this uniform what it is,” she says. “I want to continue to live out this dream.”