Have Friday night lights always been solely about football? If you've ever been part of a drill or dance team or you have a young dancer at home, Sweethearts of the Gridiron is the girl doc at Thin Line that you must attend. I vaguely recall our drill team sponsor mentioning the Rangerettes but I'm sure it was while we were practicing kicks.
I promised myself to hold my "girliness" to a minimum while watching this doc but the dancing hearts of the Rangerettes won me over. You expect prestigious and well known universities to set high standards for their organizations. But to watch young adults get so competitive to be accepted to an organization at a Junior College level seemed surreal.
Yet it was at Kilgore Junior College in 1940 when halftime shows forevermore came with the expectation of being wowed. Did I know when I was dancing at my hometown football games that the entire reason we even had a drill team was because of these pioneering women of halftime entertainment? So many dance teams were formed after the fame that followed the Rangerettes. And so many little girls set their hearts on dancing and kicking like a Rangerette.
This documentary shows young women work extremely hard through grueling practices and tryouts in order to achieve the honor of wearing the red, white and blue uniform. Watching what drove them was astonishing. All Rangerette hopefuls have more than just kicking skills as some have been attending dance classes in preparation for tryouts . Their evolving skills continue to make it harder for the director and choreographer to choose Rangerettes each year. So each hopeful must be exceptional and have something special to make the team.
The doc was missing all the girl drama that seems to be a constant everywhere today and I found that extremely refreshing. Instead the focus remained on the sisterhood that the team forms. "It teaches you to put the whole above the self," as former 7th line Rangerette and Kilgore College Vice President describes the program. Through 101+ temps and injuries these ladies continue smiling like they love life. The pride of precision and perfection build young poised women of great character. It also formed bonds of friendship that have lasted decades.
Of course I pulled out my pictures and reminisced about my old drill team days. I know every one of my former drill team partners would find appreciation and admiration in this documentary. This is not only a story every dancer should know but one that should make every American beam with pride.
The Feb 21st Texas Premiere of Sweethearts of the Gridiron sold out prompting organizers to add a second screening. Advanced tickets are still available for the Feb 22nd, 10:00 a.m. screening at the Campus Theatre.