More than 650 high school students from across the state will get to dance alongside the world famous Kilgore College Rangerettes this fall during the annual Drill Team Day.
The third annual event and Perform With The Rangerettes experience will take place Oct. 7. After only two weeks of registration, 675 dancers have signed up to participate.
After opening registration July 26, Coast2Coast Productions had to cap the registration at 650 performers Aug. 7. Due to scheduling conflicts, though, the locally owned company re-opened the registration for one day, adding another 25 dancers to the roster.
The dancers, who are coming from 27 cities across the state, will perform with the current line of the Rangerettes in a special routine during halftime of the Oct. 7 football game when the Kilgore College Rangers take on the New Mexico Military Institute.
The performance is the end to a full day of exploring Kilgore College and learning about the Rangerettes and the college’s dance department.
The first such event was with 100 participants in 2015 on the Rangerettes’ 75th anniversary but the performance was not alongside the Rangerettes.
“We definitely saw something exciting in that moment and decided to ask permission and asked if we could start hosting what we now coined Drill Team Day,” Coast2Coast Productions co-owner Megan DeHoyos said. “And it’s a halftime performance with the Rangerettes.”
Last year DeHoyos Coast2Coast Productions co-owner Angela Aulds, both of whom were Rangerettes, were hoping for 200 and saw the number jump to 400 dancers from the first year’s 100 participants. Much of last year’s registration, though, came near the date of the event.
The women set their goal this year at 500 participants, but they found after a week-and-a-half, they had already surpassed that goal.
Thinking they had months to hit their 500-person goal, DeHoyos said, “We looked at our registration and realized we had 650. In a week and a half. We didn’t think it was going to kick off the way that it did… We had to close it.”
Kilgore High School Hi-Steppers made the registration cut-off, DeHoyos said, but other area schools had not registered yet, noting how many late registrations they saw during last year’s event.
“The last two weeks before the game is when people signed up last year,” she said. “It wasn’t this early at all. It was the last two weeks when we all of a sudden jumped to 400, so we were not expecting in a week and a half to have 650 people. We thought, ‘Oh we’ll open it now and by middle of September we’ll have 500.’ Power of social media.”
The event aims to help introduce young high school dancers to not only the Rangerettes, but to Kilgore College and the college’s dance department.
“While it’s a wonderful experience to perform with the Rangerettes, it’s also primarily about higher education and showing these students that Kilgore College is a viable and affordable place to attend to start their college career,” DeHoyos said.
Dancers will receive the dance by email; they will learn it and arrive in time for a rehearsal the morning of Oct. 7 before going on a campus tour and visiting the Rangerette Showcase Museum before arriving at Dodson Auditorium for a screening of Overton Films’ “Sweethearts of the Gridiron” and a question-and-answer session with former Rangerettes. The KC dance department will also perform for the visitors.
“We are thrilled to be able to not only give these students an opportunity to perform, to visit Kilgore College, but we are thrilled that people are going to be staying the night in hotels here, and that we get to contribute to the tourism of the City of Kilgore,” DeHoyos said, noting the farthest of the 27 cities represented during the event is Corpus Christi.
For Aulds, she said, her favorite part of the weekend is watching the young dancers watch the Rangerettes perform the famous high kick routine.
“I think it’s cool after they’re on this high, they perform and then they come and then they wait around for a little bit, and then the Rangerettes do the high kick right in front of them,” she said. “Watching these girls watch them do what all they do that’s probably one of the coolest things that I get to see.”
“My favorite thing is when they hit that ending position, and they’re all on the field in their different uniforms with the original uniform in the middle,” DeHoyos said. “That, to me, is the coolest thing because you are seeing the red, white and blue, which started the drill team industry, right in the middle and then you are seeing extensions of our organization from all over the state of Texas in all of their styles of uniforms and it started with these girls that are right in the middle, the Rangerettes. To see the different varieties of uniforms. That gives me chills.
“Some of them they wear the sequin hats and the petticoats and some of them wear boots and some of them don’t wear boots and some wear pants and tops instead of a leotard and a skirt. It’s incredible. That’s my favorite part, the ending positions and seeing the variations of uniforms but with the original right in the center.”
Anyone wanting to watch the halftime performance must purchase a ticket to the football game, DeHoyos said, noting the football program benefits from the day as well.
Proceeds from the Drill Team Day registration, Aulds said, go back to the Rangerettes through Revels or trip sponsorships or other monetary support.
“We’re there to help with that, and as it grows and as the years progress with this, we hope to really help other places in our community with this event. This is the first year that we’ve really had such a huge turnout,” DeHoyos said.
The main reason the dancers are coming to the college to visit, though, is the Rangerettes, she noted.
“We’re Kilgore College alumni and Rangerettes Forever and we live in this community, and we want to support the community and the school,” DeHoyos added. “It’s not about our company or profiting off of that. This is our way to give back to a place that we hold very near and dear to our hearts.”
Some of the students, she noted, may not realize there are higher education options outside of their hometown or neighboring communities, DeHoyos and Aulds said, so they hope to promote Kilgore College as an option. DeHoyos pointed out some of the drill team members know the Rangerettes, but do not make the connection with Kilgore College or the option of studying dance without being part of Rangerettes.
“Maybe some of these kiddos don’t want to be a Rangerette, but they surely love to dance, and we want them to know this dance program is their home,” DeHoyos said. “It’s a great dance home for these students.”
Tickets for the football game can be purchased through the Kilgore College football ticketing office at 903-988-7536.