“Indescribable” is the only way Haley Hockenberry knew how to explain the feeling of learning she is one of the newest members of the Kilgore College Rangerettes.
The decorated wooden sign descended from the Dodson Auditorium stage rafters Friday morning in a closed ceremony as the 89 hopefuls scanned the 36 numbers displayed on the front looking for theirs.
When Julia Kimberlin saw number 62 on the sign she at first could not remember if that was really her number.
“I was kind of sitting there and I was like, ‘I think I made it, but it’s still questionable,’” she said laughing.
Lexie Kieschnick said there were so many emotions as they found out they were members of the 78th line of the Kilgore College Rangerettes.
After posing with her number on the sign, Kilgore native Ryan Wayne said, it was finally sinking in that she had achieved her lifelong goal of becoming a member of the world famous organization.
“It’s a lot. I don’t even know how to describe it,” she said.
Before going into Dodson Auditorium for the reveal, Wayne said, “It kind of feels like 18 years is kind of sitting on my chest right now.”
Fellow hopeful Kelsey Little said waiting to find out her future with the organization was the “most unsettled” she has felt in a long time.
“It’s the culmination of all the hard work that I’ve put in throughout the last year and it’s here. Today’s the day. It’s really surreal,” Lauren Casey said.
Little and Casey also earned spots on the 78th line Friday after a weeklong pre-training and tryout process.
For another 53 hopefuls, though, the day was less than satisfying.
“Our lives have been on hold until today,” Carol Dodson said as she waited with daughter, Maurie, and her family before the hopefuls were invited into the auditorium.
Dereck Dodson called it “nervous anticipation.”
“Lots of nerves and lots of excitement just to finally know whether the next year will hold me being a Rangerette or training again to try out next year again,” Maurie Dodson said.
Amelia Knapp said she and others could see it going either direction and had accepted either decision.
Assistant Director and Choreographer Shelley Wayne called the day the hardest of the year for everyone involved, echoing Director Dana Blair’s sentiments during pre-training.
“It’s very emotional,” Wayne said. “The decision is life altering, and we do not take that lightly in any way, but we have to make the best decision for Rangerettes. We trust in our faith to help make that decision.”
Rangerette sophomore Alexa Blair said being a sophomore during sign-drop leads to “a different kind of nervous.”
“This side was actually way more stressful,” she said. “I have been so nervous since yesterday. When I was a hopeful, it was nerve-wracking, but this is a whole different kind of nervous. I’ve never felt that nervous and anxious before in my life.”
This year was “surreal” and unlike any other for Shelley Wayne, though, as she watched her daughter, Ryan, learn she was a member of the organization.
“I’ve wanted this for her since she was probably four years old when she first started dancing around… I am, of course, beyond proud of her,” she continued. “She’s been working her whole life for this moment, and fortunately her hard work paid off.”
Wayne said she is also proud to see the reverence her daughter and Blair’s daughter, Alexa, continue to have for the organization.
“Having grown up around it and kind of just witnessing all different aspects of it, and to get to this point and it still is so magical for her. She just still looks at the organization and the girls with such respect and awe and just so desperately wanting to be a part of it,” she said. “That makes me feel good that we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. Someone that’s from here, that’s literally grown up with it that, for both mine and Dana’s daughters, it was something that they still see as the most amazing organization around. I love that part of it.”
It is “icing on the cake” that their daughters will be dancing together, Wayne as a freshman and Blair as a sophomore.
“When they were growing up, we never knew that this would be their ultimate destiny,” Shelley Wayne said. “Obviously, they’re great friends; they’ve grown up together. It will be really wonderful to watch them get to experience it together from different sides. Alexa will be her teacher and her leader first and her friend and her supporter second. It’s going to be neat to watch them share it together.”
Ryan Wayne will be the only dancer representing Kilgore on the 77th and 78th lines and was the only hopeful from Kilgore this year.
Emotions were high, though, as she – and others – cried multiple times throughout Friday’s announcement.
When Shelley and Ryan both posed with the wooden sign to point to number 54, though, Ryan said, she immediately started crying again.
“Honestly there are no words for how amazing it is to see her reaction when the sign dropped,” Alexa Blair said about her longtime friend and now Rangerette teammate. “It’s amazing… I’m just so excited for her.”
Kilgore College Rangerettes
Abilene: Kelsey Little
Arlington: Kyra Gaskill
Austin: Lindy Foster
Austin: Rachel Green
Caddo Mills: Kennadie Drews
Dallas: Lucille White
Deer Park: Ashley Fuertes
Deer Park: Alyssa Zertuche
Dripping Springs: Alyssa Rivera
Edinburg: Kenedie Casares
Flower Mound: Penelope Heth
Flower Mound: Nicole Vickers
Fort Worth: Lexie Kieschnick
Houston: Alyssa Moreno
Katy: Michelle Miller
Kilgore: Ryan Wayne
Kingwood: Courtney Knight
La Porte: Blaine Miller
Leander: Cierra Birmingham
Lewisville: Sydney Mooty
Lufkin: Haley Carlile
McKinney: Lauren Casey
Mount Belvieu: Sara Aguillard
Mount Pleasant: Madison Blalock
Nacogdoches: Haley Hockenberry
Nederland: Kaitlyn Harvey
New Braunfels: Franklyn Stamps
North Richland Hills:
North Richland Hills:
Plano: Julia Kimberlin
Port Neches: Allison Klima
Port Neches: Bailee Scott
Rhome: Abigail Lyon
Rockwall: Cameron Ballenger
Tyler: Ashlyn Fleet
Tyler: Veronica Sundin