Seventy-five years ago the World Famous Kilgore College Rangerettes walked onto the Kilgore College football field for their first jaw-dropping performance pioneering an American art form that 75 years later has inspired a multi-billion dollar dance-drill industry. All professional and high school dance teams can trace their “DNA” back to Kilgore and the Rangerettes.
The Rangerettes’ diamond anniversary officially kicked off with the selection of the 75th line in July, which performed for the first time today at Rangerette Showoffs at Dodson Auditorium and will take the field for their first football game at 7 p.m., CDT on Sept. 13, 2014. Eighty-two women tried out for this year’s squad, and 36 were selected. The new Rangerette officers were named at Showoffs. Twelve sophomores tried out and the five selected to lead the team for 2014-2015 are:
Captain – Emily Diehl, Allen, Texas
Right End Lieutenant – Jessica Hensal, Woodward, Okla.
Right Middle Lieutenant – Emily Wendt, Round Rock, Texas
Left Middle Lieutenant – Reagan Reynolds, College Station, Texas
Left End Lieutenant – Noelie Barbay, La Porte, Texas
“The Rangerettes are looking forward to this exciting year and celebrating not only the 75th Anniversary of the Kilgore College Rangerettes but also the creation of the American art form know as dance drill team,” Dana Blair, Rangerettes director, said.
The birth of the Kilgore College Rangerettes 75 years ago started a dance-drill team industry that has positively influenced countless lives and careers, and economically benefitted communities throughout the United States and the world. The Rangerettes have been photographed for Vogue by famed-photographer Annie Liebowitz, graced glossy magazine covers such as Texas Monthly, Newsweek, Life, and the Saturday Evening Post, and an article in Sports Illustrated to mention a few. Their innovation and popularity spurred an engine of economic growth.
“The excitement of celebrating our 75th Anniversary is contagious and I am honored to be a part of this monumental celebration as both a former Rangerette and the current assistant director and choreographer. It is with great pride that we honor the artistry, values, history and traditions of the world’s oldest and finest drill team, the Kilgore College Rangerettes,” Shelley Wayne, assistant director and choreographer, said.
This spring, renowned economist Dr. Ray Perryman unveiled his study: The Economic Benefits of the Precision Dance Industry Inspired by the Kilgore College Rangerettes. His study revealed that this industry as a whole generates a sizable economic stimulus of an estimated $8.3 billion in total expenditures and $4.0 billion in gross product each year. The industry also created more than 50,700 permanent jobs across the nation, and stimulates several industries, including textiles, lumber, transportation, and tourism.
“What are now cornerstones of halftime shows across the country – precision dance and drill teams – owe much to the innovative Rangerettes,” Perryman said. “Even beyond the entertainment provided by these groups, they also lead to notable gains in business activity.”
Hundreds of high schools and colleges across the nation, as well as most professional sports franchises, have precision dance-drill teams. These teams not only boost spirit, but also lead to significant economic benefits. Attending competitions leads to tourism, hiring directors and choreographers generates jobs, and purchasing needed for uniforms and other gear enhances spending. Performances often increase attendance at sporting events.
The Rangerettes have traveled from coast to coast and around the world performing and parading for audiences that include presidents, princes, professional entertainers, members of the military and community groups.
In 75 years they’ve performed on four continents, in eleven foreign countries, twenty-three states, and Washington D.C. They have also performed in 64 Cotton Bowl game halftimes in a row (1951-2014), and they make regular appearances at Dallas Cowboys pre-game and half-time shows, national parades and presidential inaugurations. The Rangerette Showcase and Museum is celebrating its 35th anniversary attracting visitors from 62 countries since its opening.
Gussie Nell Davis was recruited by the Kilgore College Dean of Students B.E. Masters to create halftime entertainment that would keep football fans in their seats and equalize the male to female student population ratio at a small two-year college in the East Texas oil patch. In 1940, Miss Davis created the World Famous Kilgore College Rangerettes, the first group of its kind in the world and a distinctive American phenomenon. They are the first collegiate dance-drill team and pioneered the model for all drill teams created since. With their precision and perfection, they are known as the “Sweethearts of the Gridiron.” They are Goodwill Ambassadors of Texas and the United States.