Former Rangerettes: From from the Kilgore stadium to the VST

Sophia Kontos and Jack Shea

From left: Susan Sanders, Shauna Thornton, Heidi Arouty and Brooke Wilson look back on their years as Rangerettes. 

With their hats, scarves and cowboy boots, the Rangerettes of Kilgore College have lived by their nickname, Sweethearts of the Gridiron, ever since the 1940’s.

Over the span of 30 years, four teachers have been Rangerettes. Spanish teacher Shauna Thornton and dance teachers Heidi Arouty, Susan Sanders, and Brooke Wilson performed in the precision drill team.

Kilgore College is located in Gregg County, TX, about two hours east from Dallas. In 1939, Gussie Nell Davis founded the Rangerettes to increase Kilgore’s female enrollment and to keep students in their seats during half time shows instead of brawling under the stands. Davis decided to start a unique, Texan-themed drill team rather than the traditional women’s drum and bugle corps.

This past September, the former Rangerettes reconnected and took time to reminisce in the VST dance studio. Even after many years apart, the four felt memories bubble back as they looked through Rangerette memorabilia, photos and costumes.  

Here, the teachers share some of their memories from their college years as Kilgore Rangerettes.

What gives the Rangerettes team an element of tradition?

Arouty: Over the 30 years that we represent here, most of the moves have stayed the same. That’s one of the things that’s made the Rangerettes so prevalent over the years.

How did it feel to be a Rangerette?

Thornton: You feel like you live a lifetime those two years, don’t you?

Arouty: Yeah, and when you go back, it’s like you never left.

What was the best part of being a Rangerette?

Wilson: The friends that I made. I would love to go back and have another night in the dorm with my girls because it was so special. It’s this magical, special time.

Thornton: I had the distinct feeling that I was working for something bigger than myself. I  was a small part in something that was really big. It was a deep sisterhood. It was family.

Sanders: For me, it’s special because my family settled there in 1860. I spent every summer there as a child. I grew up knowing the Rangerettes. My grandfather would take me to go see them.

What is the biggest take-away from this experience?

Sanders: Values.

Arouty: Work ethic.

Thornton: And again, the values and the respect. The respect for others, the for the legacy, and for something bigger than yourself. Working at a school like this feels a lot like that. You are a small part. I feel like that brings more meaning to what I do everyday.