Competition helps future Rangerettes

Published on Saturday, 18 January 2014 00:56 - Written by By Chelsea Katz MCT Direct News Service

KILGORE — Decades after her death, Gussie Nell Davis continues to help drill teams and dancers across the state.

The Gussie Nell Davis Dance Classic, scheduled for Jan. 25 at Kilgore College, is open to all dance groups.

The classic was first organized in 1958 by Davis and long-time Southern Methodist University band director Irving D. Dreibrodt.

In 1996 the American Dance/ Drill Team approached the Kilgore College administration about starting a competition, said Joyce Pennington, president, CEO and owner of American Dance/Drill Team. The competition was not just any competition, though, because it was formed in honor of Davis with all proceeds from the competition going toward Rangerette scholarships.

Now, the competition is one of 23 hosted by the American Drill Team.

Over about the past 15 years, Pennington said, she and her husband C.R. have contributed more than $130,000 toward Rangerette scholarships. In addition to the money from the competition, she and her husband have endowed six scholarships.

Each team competing in the competition gets a Rangerette escort for the day and has a chance to tour the Rangerette Showcase and Museum and the Gussie Nell Davis Rangerette Residence.

For some students, the them to tour the KC campus and get to know the Rangerettes and what it takes to be a Rangerette, Pennington said.

The Rangerettes — usually the freshmen — and the Swingsters perform for the teams, so they get to see different types of dance the Rangerettes perform, Mrs. Pennington said.

Judges from across the state help with the competition.

Contestants are generally from Texas, but she said there have been teams from Oklahoma, Kansas and Louisiana.

There is a connection for those out of state schools or dance studios, Mrs. Pennington. Many of the teams have ties to KC through directors who have been a Rangerette.

“They love to be able to see their students (here and to) be able to introduce them to the college and everything like that,” she said.

This year’s Gussie Nell Davis Dance Classic is set for Sat. Jan. 25 at Master’s Gym on the KC campus from approximately 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Registration is not closed yet, and Mrs. Schoepf encouraged groups to sign up.

“The more the merrier,” she said.

American Drill Team prefers to have all the competitors’ information about two weeks prior to the show, so they can get everything produced in time.

Schedules would be available online at the Monday directly before the competition, Pennington said.