The concept of drill team originated right here in Texas between 1929 to 1931 when two ladies-Gussie Nell Davis and Kay Teer Crawford-developed the pep squads they were involved with into performance teams on the football field at half-time.
Miss Davis became well known as the originator and director of the Kilgore College Rangerettes, while Kay Teer Crawford left Texas to become well known in California for her choreography. Each of these ladies influenced drill teams in Texas and specifically, in San Saba.
The San Saba drill team originated in 1959-60 with 34 high school and junior high girls. Miss Billie Phillips was their sponsor.
The group was known as the “Drill Squad” that year, according to the school yearbook. In 1960-61, there were 44 members known as the “Dillo Dolls”, but in 1961-62, the name “Dilloettes” was assumed. That year the team became high school girls only with 13 girls. In the years since, the number has averaged between 15 and 16 girls.
Sponsors have included Mrs. Phillips, Mr. Russell Lewis (band director), Jeannean Thornton, Mikie Bishop, Sherry Miller, Marsha Smart, Colleen Womack, Kristi Messer, Suzy Brown, Jenny Bowden, and Kelly Reavis.
The Dilloettes have many traditions having to do with rehearsal techniques, but performance traditions include precision and showmanship, officers dress the same as the rest of the line, and red lipstick is always worn.
Uniforms have come and gone, but for several years during the 1970s, all members wore wigs. The wig colors varied, but all were a shoulder-length “flip” style. (See 1975-76 group picture.)
For many years prior to 1975-76, the drill team was scheduled into the school day at the same time as Band, but not all members played instruments.
In 1976, Dwayne Bishop, band director, asked the members to consider learning to play an instrument. They all agreed and, except for a few recent years, the drill team was always part of the Band. Where so many small towns have seen the decline or demise of their band and/or their drill team, San Saba still has award-winning organizations in both categories.
The events of this Golden Anniversary Year are being planned to include all surviving Dilloettes, Dillo Dolls, and Drill Squad members. Individuals are busy acquiring email addresses (and postal) for all members to facilitate communication of dates and events.
If you haven’t been contacted and/or would like to help plan and prepare for these events, please contact Debbie Shahan, Marsha Smart, Mikie Bishop, Glenna Boyd, Mimi Bode, Gale Ivy, Kristi Peterson, Heather Sanderson, Donna Eden, Amy Faught, Shele Gilger, Colleen Womack or any current drill team member. Give them your contact information and someone will contact you.
The 50th Anniversary Reunion is being planned for September 4 and 5, 2009, at the pep rally and football game on Friday and during the day on Saturday at the home of Martha Leigh Whitten.
Information will continue to appear in the San Saba News and Star so watch for it in the “In and Around” section. The next planning meeting is scheduled for August 5, 2009, at Armadillo Arena at 4:30 p.m.