WHITEHOUSE, Texas (KETK) – For the last 50 years, the Whitehouse First Ladies drill team has been a staple in the community.
“It’s so much more than dance,” said Madison Chennault, a member of the 44th line, “there’s so much discipline, precision and respect that these girl’s gain from that and that I definitely gained from that.
The original team in 1970 was called the Kittenettes, and members say the program was very different from the one fans see today.
“We couldn’t dance half time, and the band didn’t play for us,” said Cindy Newland, a Kittenette on the first line. “We made our uniforms, or our moms, did the first year. Every store had a different shade of maroon so our costumes were different shades of maroon.”
The Kittennettes also had to practice in the parking lot until the school began to fund the program.
Then, over the years, the drill team became an icon in East Texas, with fans of all ages excited to see them perform.
“We see little girls and they’re just in awe of us at the stadium,” said Abby Stainbeck, a member of the 48th line.
And members past and present say they feel fortunate to have been a part of the program and learn about its history.
“I love this team with all my heart and it’s so amazing to be able to carry on the traditions that have been going on since the first line,” Grace Reagan, a member of the 48th line.
While new uniforms and facilities have come along the way, one thing that has remained the same is the organization’s tradition.
“It holds a very special place in my heart, seeing that the foundation that was built in 1970 just continues today,” Jennifer Eckles, a member of the 21st line.
Now many generations of woman have taken part in the program and feel a strong connection to the team.
“My mom was a First Lady so I grew up knowing about the First Ladies, and then my sister was a first lady for three years. I got to watch her grow and love this organization,” said Olivia Chennault, a member of the 48th line.
Many members said they learned life lessons throughout their years on the team.
“It teaches us so much about ourselves and we grow so much through this whole process,” Bailee Boyd, member of the 48th line.
For many participants, getting to put on the boots and hat is a major milestone in their lives.
“The fact that I get to do that is just an amazing experience and it’s like my dreams have come true,” said Abbi Schoolcraft.
To celebrate the anniversary, all First Ladies past and present are invited to take part in their halftime show on September 27th.
They will be performing as a unified group to thank everyone for their support over the years, tickets can be found here.