MABTON - Not everyone who takes to the football field during a game is wearing a football jersey and shoulder pads. The Mabton Junior/Senior High School drill team is at every home football game during the season, marching out on the field to entertain the crowd with their halftime performances.
The drill team is made of 11 hard working girls who find time to practice every day, be if for an hour and half before school or for two hours in the evening. Drill Team Advisor Connie Beeman said her team practices whenever they can find time and wherever there is room. She explained that during the busy winter sports season, the team will typically practice in the school library.
This marks the third year Mabton has had a drill team in nearly a decade. Beeman said three years ago a group of girls created a list of names of people who would be interested in being part of a drill team and from there the program blossomed. Beeman said she has been the drill team advisor for the past two years.
Recently there has been so much interest in joining the team that members are selected through tryouts. Beeman said this year 48 girls tried out for the team.
According to Beeman, tryouts take place over a two-week period. She said those who are interested in being on the team are each taught a basic turn, a basic leap and a short routine. Then on tryout night, the girls come out three at a time and show the judges what they have learned.
Once the girls make it through the rigorous two-week tryout period, their work is just beginning. Beeman said this year the team attended a camp in Portland, Ore. hosted by the Thunderbird Dance Company. She said the Mabton team attended the more advanced camp and came away with 11 routines and several trophies.
The routines the girls learned at camp are slowly finding their way onto the field at Mabton High School. When they are not using a routine they learned at camp, Beeman said the team works together to choreograph their own moves.
She said when choreographing the team will split up into groups led by one of the four team captains, then each group will make up eight counts of a routine. The multiple eight counts are then linked together to form a new routine.
Beeman said her team is branching out this year when it comes to the types of routines they are taking on. She explained that besides doing routines to hip-hop music, the team is doing more themed routines. She said they have a Western routine they do, as well as a 1970s routine and a routine involving boy bands.
"We want to touch all sorts of groups," Beeman said.
She added that her team is comprised of hard working girls, noting that she recently asked the girls if they wanted to take a short break between football and basketball season and the answer she got back was a resounding no.
Instead, the drill team is practicing three days a week and Saturdays for four hours to prepare for the upcoming basketball season.
An interesting aspect of the drill team is that its members are composed of not only high school students, but also several junior high school students.
Erica Calixto, an eighth grader, said she decided last year that she wanted to try out for the drill team.
"I like to dance," Calixto said.
She said she also likes the feeling of getting out in the middle of the football field or the center of a crowded gym and dancing.
Beeman said she is hoping that the more her team performs and the more competitions and camps they are able to attend, the more people will be interested in joining the drill team.