Professional dancer Lindsay Arnold has had her fair share of talented partners while competing on Dancing With the Stars since joining the cast in 2013. And while not all of them have been Mirror Ball Trophy winners, Lindsay says the most important quality she looks for in a dance partner is their “work ethic.”

Luckily for the 24-year-old TV star, her Season 27 celeb partner, DeMarcus Ware, 36, checks off all the boxes that the blonde-haired beauty looks for in a DWTS competitor. And, in an exclusive new interview with Closer Weekly, Lindsay gushed about how the former NFL linebacker’s determination to be a better dancer is “honestly everything I could ever ask for as a coach.”

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“This season has been so much fun,” Lindsay told Closer just days after having an elimination scare during Week 5 of the competition. The Provo, UT native admitted that DeMarcus “is probably the happiest person at all times,” even though “that’s a pretty hard thing to do when you’re on DWTS, especially when you’re not a dancer.” Lindsay also admitted that DeMarcus, 36, is like no other partner she’s ever had and that he shows up “with the biggest smile on his face, and he never lets himself get defeated.”

Lindsay recently faced a hardship when DeMarcus dislocated his finger earlier in the season, leaving the duo unsure of how the rest of the competition would pan out. When asked if his finger injury impeded on any of their choreography, Lindsay had an immediate response.

“Honestly no, because DeMarcus is so freakin’ tough,” Lindsay said, adding that if she had anyone else as a partner, the choreography most likely would’ve had to have been simplified due to DeMarcus’ injury. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone bounce back like that and just act like nothing ever happened. It definitely didn’t feel good to him, but he wasn’t going to let anything keep him from doing what I was going to ask of him. I really, really admired that.”

The Season 25 champion — she won the Mirror Ball Trophy in 2017 with actor Jordan Fisher! — revealed that DeMarcus’ hard work is extremely important, especially since he entered the competition “completely out of his element” and with “zero experience.” She dished that people often think that football players have a natural rhythm, but that was not true for DeMarcus.

But it’s not so much the immediate skills you have that Lindsay appreciates the most in a partner — it’s the work ethic. “All I ask is that you give it everything you got, and I’ll do my best to make sure that you look good,” Lindsay told Closer. “I feel like that’s the key to a great partnership right there.”

The dancer admitted that since winning Season 25 with former partner Jordan, 24, she has gotten a taste of being a Mirror Ball Trophy Champion and wants to reclaim her title. “I would love to get that for me and DeMarcus, and I feel that it would be very special this season,” Lindsay said, explaining that there are a lot of stars that are naturally decent dancers, but that was not the case for DeMarcus who has to work his butt off every week to make it to the next round.

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“He’s really, really grown as a dancer. This was something that was totally out of his comfort zone, and to see him go in all the way to the end and possibly winning this thing, that would be a dream come true for me,” she said. Linsday revealed that even though taking home the champion title would be “huge” for her and DeMarcus, it’s not what drives her to do DWTS. “I love creating moments with my partners that will last beyond the show,” the dancer revealed.

Watch Lindsay and DeMarcus perform each week on DWTS on Mondays at 8:00 p.m. EST on ABC!

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