Drill team is huge in Texas, especially so in Highland Park ISD.
The Highland Belles drill team has a rich history, deep traditions, and a distinguished award-winning history.
What does it take to become a Belle? Time, lots of time.
“Most girls have been dancing and training from a young age,” said assistant director Emily Sanchez.
The directors offer Belle prep classes during the first semester of every year so that girls can prepare for tryouts.
“Most girls have been dancing and training from a young age.” -Emily Sanchez.
As for tryouts, they come during the first week of December and include a three-day clinic to learn jazz, kick, and pom routines.
The team holds a mock tryout to “ease their nerves” and then final auditions on the Saturday of that week.
The Belles hire third-party judges to give the girls trying out a chance to make good first impressions. That approach also offers directors an opportunity to receive feedback and ensure they are getting girls who have the talent.
Practice starts the week after spring break for the new team. That’s how soon the girls will begin working on the routines for the upcoming year’s football season.
Much like the boys on the football team, the Belles spend the final two weeks of summer in “two-a-days.” That’s when they go through the combinations they learned before the summer break.
Once football season ends, the team prepares for competition. The Belles go to regional and national contests nearly every year.
The Belles have seen traditions come and go, but some have stayed for a majority of the team’s history.
For example, the Belles have held the same annual fundraiser – their only fundraiser – for 36 years.
The Spaghetti Supper, which includes an auction and raffle, takes place before the first home game of every season.
“The money goes to props, costumes, and covers the cost to go to nationals,” Sanchez said.
It is notably known as a hectic time for the girls who must ensure they sell their tickets to the fundraiser.
Once the new team is announced, the new girls stand on a table, introduce themselves by name to the crowd, shouting, “And Ding Dong, I’m a Belle!”