When Highlandette Captain Berkley Johnson puts on her all white uniform and sequined hat, she’s whisked back to the days when she watched the drill team in awe.
“I used to love watching the captain when I was younger. It’s cool to think little girls know who I am.”
Berkley began dancing at age three, taking classes from Janie Christy and mimicking the Highlandettes’ moves. More recently, she became a student at Danceology in Lake Highlands, and as a junior she was named a Dette lieutenant.
That first year as an officer was invaluable, says Berkley, as she developed her leadership skills and earned the confidence of the girls on the line. She calls her style at the top more motivator than dictator, and says she tries to lead by example.
“I was kind of timid at first,” she admits, “but I grew into it. I’ve learned when to be in officer mode and when to be in friend mode.”
Between officer camp and line camp this summer, Berkley found time for work crew at Young Life’s Trail West Family Camp in Colorado. There, she spent a month serving meals and cleaning up after campers and staff at the Christian retreat.
“It was nerve-wracking to get on a plane and go to a place where I didn’t know anyone,” admits the rising LHHS senior, “but it gave me a lot of confidence for when I go off to college.”
“I’ve always gone to camp for myself,” says Berkley. “This time I wanted to give back.”
“I met people from North Carolina, Florida – even Costa Rica. People I didn’t know now feel like close friends.”
Now that she’s returned home, Berkley is preparing to get her team ready for football season. Line camp begins August 6th, and she knows she’s got 50 years of history there to back her up.
“Lake Highlands has a small town feel, and I like how the Highlandettes are really involved in the community. My neighbors who’ve been to the game will come over and say ‘I saw you perform, good job.’”
Berkley also understands that being Captain makes her a role model for many.
“I realize that younger girls are looking up to me,” says Berkley. “I try to think, in the back of my mind, how will this reflect on Highlandettes?”
I hope you’ll have a chance to meet Berkley at the next game or tailgate. She’ll be the one in the white hat.
Photo by Sarah Thompson Photography.