July 17, 2019

Kilgore News Herald
Jul 16, 2019

Kilgore, Texas

Dozens of young women are currently in Kilgore training, practicing and hoping for a spot on the 80th line of the world-famous Kilgore College Rangerettes.

'Rette tryouts are taking place Thursday and hopefuls have been practicing in pre-training rehearsals throughout the week.

“They’re going great,” Rangerette Director Dana Blair said Monday. “It’s always a tough, competitive tryout. We have 91 girls for 30-something spots. We have no set number that we’re taking but probably in the thirties.”

Rehearsals take place in the Deana Bolton-Covin Rangerette Gymnasium on the KC campus and, on Monday, young women were practicing dance moves, high-kicks and exercises to ready themselves for the selective tryout process.

While the ‘Rettes are often recognized for their traditional kick routines, hopefuls learn new moves and routines each year in order to try out.

“It’s a whole new high-kick, new combinations. We teach the traditional things but we don’t really do that during tryouts. They don’t learn really anything traditional during tryouts. They’re going to learn all new things,” Blair said.

Hopefuls have come from Texas and beyond to give their all for a spot on the line. Three of the young women traveled from out-of-state for tryouts: from Florida, New Mexico and Arkansas.

This year’s hopefuls are showing the same kind of spirit and determination as those from previous years, according to Blair.

“It’s the same: very hard-working, very dedicated, prepared young ladies that have shown up for tryouts,” she said, adding that, on Monday, hopefuls had just begun practicing dance routines.

With a short time to learn the new routines, hopefuls must work hard to prepare for tryouts at 8 a.m. Thursday, where they will try out in groups of four.

Those who made the cut will find out about their new spot on the line at the “Sign Drop” on Friday at 10 a.m. in Dodson Auditorium. The names of the new Rangerettes will be displayed on a sign lowered over the stage. Friends and family members must wait outside the auditorium during the process but will be allowed in afterward.

The 2019-2020 line selection is especially historic: in 2020, the Rangerettes will mark 80 years since teacher and drill team director Gussie Nell Davis first created the iconic Kilgore dance team.

The 80th line will represent nearly a century of commitment to a precision dance tradition which is now admired internationally. The group has performed around the world and is recognized as a symbol of Kilgore and of Texas as a whole.

In November, the group will travel abroad once again: to the Birmingham International Tattoo, a world-renowned exhibition featuring music, theatrics and marching bands. The trip and performance will celebrate the ‘Rettes’ 80th anniversary.

“We’re going to also spend some time in London and that will be, of course, the 79th line and the new 80th line will all go. We just announced it yesterday. It was kind of a surprise,” Blair said.

The trip was announced at Sunday’s Rangerette Tea, an event which welcomes ‘Rette hopefuls to Kilgore.