What is a uniform without a hat?

The eight members of the Gainesville High School Electric Red Drill Team found themselves asking that question last July as they finalized plans for the upcoming performance season.

Shawna Beall — who took over as dance team coach in April — said she was asked to take the job of dance teacher in addition to her regular work as a math instructor at the high school.

Putting together the team’s uniform was one of her first challenges.

Because Beall got a relatively late start, she and the girls were also behind in their fund raising efforts.

That left Beall scrambling to put together a schedule that included game and pep rally performances, practice time and a dance training camp.

Then the group lost some of their dancers due to financial hardships, a fact that still saddens Beall who would have liked to have had all 12 girls on the team.

When the team members ordered their uniforms they requested assistance from the district to purchase the hats and boots that make their uniforms complete.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Kilgore Rangerettes, but our uniform is a lot like theirs. You need the hat and the boots,” Beal said during an interview at her class room.

Beall said she requested funding and believed it was in place for the hats and boots.

Then, through some glitch, the money was not there when the girls needed it.

It was nobody’s fault, Beall said, and she isn’t blaming anyone. Still the cost proved difficult for some.

“We were lucky,” Beall said, “the company (Floyette designs) had heard about the flood in Gainesville, and they donated the hats.”

The dancers had to provide their own money for the boots, she said.

Although this is Beall’s first year heading up the talented group of high school dancers, she is not new to dance.

She studied ballet for many years and has a lot of respect for the young women who make up the dance team this year.

During a recent seventh period class, the old Gainesville High School gymnasium was crowded with students.

Three sets of cheerleading teams worked out on one side of the gym facing an almost empty set of bleachers and taking up nearly the entire length of the basketball court.

A ballroom dance class put their newly-acquired skills to music.

Six members of the Electric Red Drill Team gathered around their teacher getting last minute reminders for the annual homecoming parade.

Two of the dancers were out sick.

“I wish everybody could’ve been here,” Beall said as she watched the girls perform a pom dance sans pom poms.

“They left them (the pom poms) at home so they could have them for the parade tonight,” she explained.

The girls apparently remembered what many consider the number one rule for drill team members: Smile. No matter what.

All six looked happy to be in the gym doing drills and routines perfected after months of summer practices.

They work out in shorts and T-shirts, their red and white embellished uniforms on hangers at home.

It takes the girls about an hour to get ready to perform, Beall said.

Freshman team member Jill Magee said she got her start in dance while in eighth grade.

She said she was inspired by teacher, Lisa Boswell.

“My teacher, Ms. Boswell motived me,” she said. “She is the best teacher.”

Magee said she and 17 other girls auditioned for the team.

She tried out with two friends and all three were selected.

The team bonded while attending a dance camp at the Doral Tesero Hotel in Fort Worth.

Magee said dancing is not her only interest. She is also a swimmer and was once a player on an all-boys baseball team.

Another team member junior Victoria Wright is a leader of the group.

She said she has been a member of the dance team for the past three years, but has been dancing for more than 10 years.

She studied dance at Cooke County Ballet Academy.

When she tried out for the team before her freshman year, she said she was “a little nervous.”

Performances are usually no big deal. However, Wright said she sometimes does get a bit nervous.

“In front of people I know I get more nervous than in front of people I know I will never see again,” she said.

Remembering a complicated routine can be somewhat tricky especially when one is learning it for the first time.

“After you’ve done it so long it gets easier. Experience helps,” Wright said.

So does practice.

“We practice every day and have after school practices,” she said.

Wright said she and the other dancers are doing their part to promote a positive, well-disciplined image for the Electric Red Dance Team.

Beall said the young women are a trustworthy, dedicated group of high school students.

“They work so hard, and they deserve a lot of respect,” she said.

The team is made up of Victoria Wright, Captain; Chaney Shauf- Co-Captain; Cecily Johnson; Klancie Lofton; Kayla Sieger, Jill Magee; Elizabeth Pelley and Brandi Trammell.

In addition to fall performances the team also gears up each year for a series of other special events including spring recitals.

“In the spring the girls compete with other teams at a dance competition. This includes solos, team dancer, and officer dances. In April, we will have a spring show for everyone who did not get to see competition,” Beall said.

The team is also considering holding a cookie dough fund raising sale, but plans for this money-maker are not set in stone, she said.

Beall also had some praise for interim GISD superintendent Bill Gravitt who she said has been “great” for all the students, including the dance team.

“He’s the one who is making sure hats and boots are in the budget for next year,” she said, smiling.

Reporter Delania Trigg may be

contacted at dtrigg@ntin.net

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