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The History of Stingerettes

We all know of the glitter and glamour, high kicks, large props, and bright blue eye shadow. For many years now little girls in Stephenville have grown up with dreams of being on the football field during half time performing as a SHS Stingerette. This long line of girls dates back to as early as 1953, the era of shoo-bop songs, high ponytails, and rolled up jeans.

The first group of young women carried batons and called themselves the Stingerettes. This group of thirty-six girls did not start out dancing, but instead performed seven minute marching and twirling routines. Any one interested in being a part of this group was welcome to be a Stingerette. They had no sponsor, instead, the band director, Mr. Joe Ganthem, over saw the group. As a result, they were associated with the band, performing with them on the field at half time. The first uniforms were white short-sleeved blouses and navy shorts. The drum majorette wore white shorts with a blue blouse. The second year the mothers made field dresses. These were royal blue corduroy with a gold corduroy belt with the initial "S" embroidered in the middle. The skirt made a full circle and was lined in gold with gold bloomers. The drum majorette wore the exact opposite. They wore white majorette boots with blue tassels. Mrs. Linda Stone Savage, a member of the original Stingerette team told of a few disastrous performances, such as the routine where the team was supposed to form a wheel with crepe paper. As the rain came down, the paper became soggy, drooping and bleeding on anything it touched. After a few routines like this, the Stingerettes were nicknamed "the Stinkerettes". The twirling corp was led by a drum majorette; they also had group officers consisting of a president, vice-president, secretary-treasurer, and sgt.-at-arms. Also, just as the group does now, they had a Stingerette Beau; the first Stingerette Beau was Max Smithey.

Lara Lowrie By 1956, the Stings had their own sponsors, Miss Wadena George and Mr. Sam Houston. Also, in addition to the previous officers, the group added a historian and a reporter. The Stingerette leader was Glenna Dover. The group continued to perform at football half times and also marched in parades, such as the Erath County Fair Parade. By this time, the Stingerettes had evolved into a drill team. Instead of carrying batons, the Stings performed formations, group routines, precision marching routines, and kick routines. The 1957 sponsor was Mrs. Annie Leatherwood; the leader was Jerry Byrd. In 1958, Captain Barbara Howell led the drill team. The 60's brought new looks to the half time shows. In addition to the precision routines, props were also used. The 1961 Stephenville yearbook shows balloons being used for the half-time show. That year, the Stings marched in the Tarleton Homecoming Parade and performed on national T.V. for the Dallas Texan football game in the Cotton Bowl. The 1962 yearbook mentions that being a sting can now earn a year's credit for graduation. Prior to this, Stingerettes were an extracurricular activity. In 1968, the director was Mrs. Harwell and in 1976, the director was Mrs. Hopson. In 1978, the director was Pam Skinner Phillips, and in the early 90's the director was Karleen McDougal. The current director, Sherrie Evans, began her tenure in 1994. Mrs. Evans brought a personal pride to the organization, as she herself was a line member and officer of the Stings during her high school years.

Over the years, the Stingerettes have changed in many aspects; however, some things never change. Long hours of practice, rain or shine, early or late, have always been an important part of the Stingerette organization. The original group of girls took twirling lessons during the summer and practiced in the park. They began practicing two weeks before school started and had after-school practices with the band during the year. The 1956 SHS yearbook shows the Stings planning for football game performance and working at an early morning practice. Today, the Stingerettes practice vigorously up to five hours a day after school. The routines are critiqued to perfection.

Officers have always been elected from the line. In previous years, the officers carried different ranks; there were lieutenants and captains, in 1978, there were seven officers. Today's group is led by eight officers who share responsibility equally, thus bringing more unity to the organization.

While some things stay the same, other things change. The most important change in the Stingerette organization is the very nature of their performance. Today, the Stingerette organization consists of a group of talented and trained dancers. As a result, the field routines have evolved into carefully choreographed and polished performances. The recognition of the importance of dance developed into a part of the fine arts curriculum both at the high school and junior high levels. Dance classes are now available from seventh grade through twelfth grade. Also, a class has been established for the drill team itself, during which the Stings develop half time and pep rally routines during the football season, and prepare for dance competitions during the spring semester.

Uniforms have undergone many changes over the years. From the blue shorts of the first group of Stings to the blue corduroy field dresses, the Stingerettes have displayed a variety of uniforms. In 1964, the uniforms included sailor hats and in 1974, the group donned sunbonnets. Mrs. Evans has added flair to the organization's uniforms by using a different combination of basic dance wear for each show. One of the more traditional outfits is the field dress that maintains the spirit of the field dresses worn in 1954. They are still a royal blue with gold sequined trim. The officers’ field dress is royal blue trimmed in white sequins. A favorite costume is the gold sequined tux and tails worn over a black cat suit. One important change has been the footwear. Today's Stings perform barefoot during the half time shows. If you want to find out the condition of a football field, just ask today's Stingerette.

The original group of Stingerettes required little outside funding. The uniforms were made and provided by parents. As the focus of the organization broadened to greater precision and dance, more training for the girls was required. Also, supporting dance competitions and the cost of costumes must be funded outside the school budget. Some of the early fundraisers were variety shows, hayrides, wiener roasts, picnics, and candy sales. Also, in the earlier years, the groups sponsored a "Kiddie Party" where students came dressed up as young children and participated in a variety of games and events. Today, some of the traditional fundraisers include candy and candle sales, homemade ice cream booths, concession stands, sidewalk painting, and the annual "Cindefella" pageant.

Tradition is a basis for any organization, therefore, one of the main things that has not changed over the years, only added upon, are the awards and traditions. One of these traditions is that every year there is a freshman to come up and receive a single senior, as someone to look up to in what can be a scary time. Every out-of-town game, the freshman buys their senior’s dinner to carry along on the bus. However, the seniors can never help picking on these new line members a little. They try to come up with ridiculous songs just to embarrass the freshmen in front of other people. The most well known thing the freshman had to do is, whenever they heard a senior shout "button-up", they would stand on one leg, thumb on their forehead while singing a senior song. Also, each Stingerette has a "Secret Sting". Presents for special occasions and thoughts of encouragement are sent to the secret Sting. The secret pals reveal themselves at the annual Stingerette banquet.

The 50th Anniversary of the Stingerette organization will be celebrated in the fall of 2003. From a group of thirty-six girls carrying batons to a dance and drill team of sixty-seven the Stings have maintained one common element. Being a part of Stingerettes helps these young women in many ways. They learn how to get along with 67 other people, be leaders and role models, and also they have to learn team discipline, teamwork, patience, and responsibility. They have the opportunity to develop their talents, set goals, and grow into productive citizens. Along the way, they have made friends and memories that they will remember for a lifetime.