Spreading across the field at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium, more than 650 Texas high school drill team members did what some only dream about: dancing with the world famous Kilgore College Rangerettes.
The performance was part of Saturday’s special Drill Team Day put on for the third year by locally-owned Coast2Coast Productions.
“It’s just really awesome because this is my dream since I was a little girl, so to think that I’m like this close to them, it’s actually real now and that I have a chance to dance with them and hopefully be able to be one in a couple of years,” Bridge City High School Strutter Macie Moore, a hopeful for the 80th Rangerette line, said.
Bridge City Strutters Director Cathy Riley started to get emotional as she looked around the Deana Bolton-Covin Rangerette Gym.
A member of the Rangerettes from 1974 to 1976, she said, “It’s neat to come home. It’s a lot of memories in this room. It’s pretty cool. It’s something I always wish for all of them, but I know that not all of them have the same dream, but it’s just something I wish they could experience. It’s life changing.”
One of the biggest takeaways for Lizette Ortiz, a member of the Sunset Bisonettes from Dallas, and Spencer Ford, a Brazwell High School Royal from Denton, was the discipline and respect displayed by the Rangerettes.
“It’s honestly really inspirational because you grow up kind of learning about them and dreaming of being on their team and stuff, and being here, actually the place where everything happens, it’s really awesome,” Ford said. “It really inspires you to do your best because maybe you can be there with them.”
There is a distinct difference, fellow Brazwell Royal Lucy Yates said, between being in Kilgore to watch the Rangerettes and getting to perform with the line.
“It kind of gives you a little bit of a glimpse into what you could be doing in a few years… I’m glad that they do this because it gives all of us an opportunity to push ourselves and see how much we need to improve in the next few years to be able to do something like this.”
Laura Lyons, co-director for the San Jacinto Girl Scouts’ Green Starlettes, did not know much about the history of the Rangerettes, and the Overton Films-produced movie “Sweethearts of the Gridiron” was both exciting and emotional to watch.
“Just to think that my daughter just by being here is going to be able to get to be a part of this tonight,” she said. ”It’s very exciting.”
This is the first year the Green Starlettes have attended the Perform with the Rangerettes event, and the experience gave the team a chance to dance on a football field, out of the ordinary for the Starlettes because the 100-pluls-member team pulls from so many schools in the Houston area. Typically, Lyons said, they perform at basketball games and in parades.
“For them to be outside in the elements the whole time, it was really an experience for them. I can even just see a difference in just the way they carry themselves just being here. It’s kind of a neat thing,” she said.
During the full day of activities that began with practice and ended with the performance, the attendees got the chance to watch the Rangerette documentary “Sweethearts of the Gridiron,” see a performance by Kilgore College’s Industry Dance Company and explore the college – especially the Rangerette Showcase Museum.
Members of many of the different drill teams crowded outside the museum to get a picture of and with the famous ‘K-Girl’ on the side of the building before their performance.
“Knowing that they’re the very first drill team ever, it’s an amazing feeling to actually be here and to get pictures with the K-Girl and everything. It really makes you think what the girls go through to be a Rangerettes,” Antavion Walker, a member of the Robert E. Lee High School Southern Belles, said. “The video really showed us what it’s like to be in the Rangerettes and how hard they have to work.”
His teammate Mystical Leathers said it was humbling to get to know the Rangerettes more and understand how much work they put into their performances.
“It inspires you to work even harder than you are past the limits that you thought that you had,” she said.
Even though the Kilgore High School Hi-Steppers get to see the practice and perform on the same field as the Rangerettes at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium, they do not share the field.
“It’s so special even though we are from here, still it’s just as special,” KHS Hi-Steppers Lt. Rachel Clower said.
Hi-Steppers Lt. Avery Gorman added it gives them a chance to get to know how other drill teams across the state practice and perform.
In addition, Lt. Kallie Slayter said, they have been able to make new friends with their fellow dancers.
The experience allows each of the drill team members to recognize why they put in the practice before each Friday night football game or performance.
“They’ve grown up watching the Rangerettes, so to be able to perform on the same field with them kind of ties it all on why we’re doing what we’re doing every Friday night and for them to take ownership to see all these schools from all over Texas that want to be with the Rangerettes that they get to see them all the time,” Hi-Steppers Director Sara Nash said.
As a former Rangerette, Nash said, it is humbling to know all of the drill teams that gathered at Kilgore College Saturday originated from the Kilgore College Rangerettes.
“Here in deep East Texas, little ol’ Kilgore, it’s where it started it all, and it still is a big deal to so many people.”