The start of the new 2018-2019 school year is a significant milestone for an extracurricular activity known around Bullard High School and the Bullard community, as the award-winning Bullard Belles drill team will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year.
“This is definitely an exciting year for our drill team program,” said Shelly Johnston, Bullard Belles director. “Because this is our 10th year anniversary, we believe this will be a great year; we’ll be looking back at the past 10 years of Bullard Belles’ history, while also looking towards the future with the new team this season. I’m excited about the new girls who are joining us, and they are excited to be a part of the group this year.”
At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, the annual audition process for the next year’s line of Bullard Belles was held. After the tryouts, Johnston had selected senior Mariah Melton as the program’s new captain.
“Mariah was a junior officer for us last year, so she comes to the captain position with a lot of experience under her hat,” said Johnston. “She’s a wonderful role model and leader the team. She’s already stepped in and the girls really respect her, which makes it easier for me to have the ‘student leader’ of the program leading in a positive manner. That’s definitely a key component for us this season: having a strong leader commanding a strong drill team.”
In addition to Melton serving as captain, Johnston selected a quartet of officers to fill out the remaining student leader positions, including Officer Jaiden Knowlton (senior), Officer Raelee Walker (senior), Officer Layni Welmaker (junior), and Officer Madison Wise (senior).
“Having these four officers step up into these leadership roles is an added bonus for the program this year,” said Johnston. “All four of these girls have been longtime members of the drill team and they’re willing to serve as officers and give up a lot of time to help lead this organization. It’s a lot of work to be an officer in the Bullard Belles, but these ladies have definitely begun to put in the hard work and dedication necessary for us to be successful this season.”
Other members of the 2018-2019 line of the Bullard Belles drill team include Emily Berry (junior), Kallie Bosley (sophomore), Rebekah Brasher (sophomore), Keyanna Brown (junior), MaKenzie Dornak (sophomore), Molly Duncan (sophomore), Jamie Hernandez (senior), Carly Humphries (sophomore), Breanna McLeod (sophomore), Jessica Perez (sophomore), Sara Powell (senior), Abbie Reeves (junior), Allie Schultheis (sophomore), Haley Still (sophomore), Jenna Wittman (senior), and MaryKate Zirlzarf (sophomore).
Serving as the squad’s managers for the new school year are April Parks (junior) and Abby Smith (junior), while the trio of Berry, Hernandez, and Reeves will be the organization’s social officers.
“We have two fabulous managers who keep our program rolling,” said Johnston. “They have big responsibilities and usually don’t get the recognition they deserve because they’re usually hiding in the wings. Both of these girls have been wonderful managers and do the grunt work for the program. Also, our social officers are in charge of motivation and unity within the program, as well as planning the numerous parties and events we have each season. As a program, we would be lost without both groups filled with girls with servants’ hearts.”
One significant aspect about this year’s lineup for the Bullard Belles is that the team this year will include the program’s inaugural pre-drill team class, allowing future Belles to gain a year of experience before joining the squad.
“I’m excited for the first pre-drill class to be joining the Belles this year,” said Johnston. “Being a part of the class that we established to allow freshmen and those who have never been a part of the team before to gain experience before stepping up has benefitted our program in so many ways; they know what we do as a program and what my expectations are on them during games, performances, and during contest season.”
Johnston said the pre-drill class students learned a number of lessons in the life of being a member of the BHS drill team, including all of the program’s pre-game activities, as well as more advance techniques and routines previously performed by the Belles at football games and dance contests.
“To see the improvement of the girls who were in the pre-drill class as they step up into being part of the Bullard Belles has been so rewarding,” said Johnston. “They have really grown, both as dancers and kickers. We’ve been able to see the benefits of the class, which allows us to knock out the basics of drill team, so that when they join the squad, it’s literally second nature to them.”
As the 10th anniversary of the Bullard Belles program gets underway, Johnston said there is excitement throughout the program to celebrate its successes and achievements of the past decade.
“I’m both anxious and excited,” said Johnston. “We’re digging in now and preparing for events, such as a reunion, to celebrate our 10th year. I’m hoping former Bullard Belles will come back throughout the year and help us celebrate our history. With the first 10 years’ worth of chapters closing, we’re hoping for more pages in the program’s history to be written in the future.”
The award-winning Bullard Belles drill team will perform at every Bullard Panther varsity football game, as well as during the annual Belles Christmas Spectacular and Spring Premier events, and during the halftime intermission of home Panther and Lady Panther basketball games and upcoming drill team competitions.