The award-winning, high-kicking Highlandette drill team at Lake Highlands High School has new leadership this year, with new director Madison Hancock and new captain Lizzie Arnold mentoring the girls of the 58th line.
Arnold served as junior lieutenant last year, but she’ll perform on the 50-yard-line in all-white this fall. She began dancing at Dallas Ballet Center at the age of 4 but claims she is a tomboy at heart.
“I was definitely more of a sporty girl,” says Arnold. “I played soccer, basketball, T-ball, volleyball and did ballet as a child. I loved being active. My love for performing didn’t come until later, when I felt confident on stage.”
Arnold understands that serving as captain this year will bring unique challenges. Leading her peers, instead of working alongside them, can be a solitary task.
“When I was younger, dance was definitely a group activity,” she notes with maturity beyond her years. “I had loads of friends who went with me to ballet, jazz and tap classes every week. Since I had been dancing for so long, I had grown up with the girls in my classes and I knew them really well. I made some of my best friends my first year on the drill team when I was a line member. Now, being captain, it brings a whole new level of responsibility that requires solitary work. It can be tough to lead girls my own age, but my goal is to serve my team well and lead them to success.”
Luckily, Arnold has mentors to guide her.
“I look to my parents (Miriam and Alvin) and my former officer line (2018-19 officers Emily Grace Starr, Vivi Hernandez and Holly Schieber) for leadership advice. My parents encourage me and push me to be the best leader I can be. They are experienced, and they help me feel confident in my skills and teach me new ones. I want to be a selfless leader. I want to use my position to help my team feel confident and successful. I believe that the 58th line is going to be the best line yet.”
Arnold is considering schools like UT-Austin or Auburn, where she can major in kinesiology and psychology and later work as a physical therapist specializing in athletic training. As she moves forward to her future, though, she sometimes looks back.
“I have thought about what my life would have been like if I hadn’t tried out for Highlandettes. Because of Dettes, I have my best friends, memories that I will remember forever and leadership experience that will help me in the future. And I’ve gotten to dance every day.”
When school begins Aug. 15, a new crop of freshman girls will show up on the LHHS campus admiring the red sequins and white fringe of the Highlandette uniforms. Arnold has advice for the young women considering auditioning for a spot on the line.
“You have to go into try-outs with the mindset that you can do it. Confidence is the key that makes or breaks a try-out. A perk of trying out with girls who are already on the team – first and second year members – is that girls with experience are dancing with you and encouraging you. You’re never along during try-outs, so as long as you try your best and are confident, you’ll do great!”
You can read about the history of the Highlandettes here.
We’ll have more about the new director, Madison Hancock, before school begins.