The high-kicking Highlandettes of Lake Highlands High School have a new director this year, and her ideas about inspiring her team to bring their very best aren’t limited to the football field. Madison Hancock served as assistant director for the past 5 years, and she’s ready now, to make the 58th line her own.
Hancock is a big football fan – though she admits to preferring Green Bay to the Dallas Cowboys. One negative to her job is routinely missing the 2nd and 3rd quarters of Friday night Wildcat games.
“That’s okay,” she says. “Halftime is the best part.”
Now that the Highlandettes’ annual garage sale fundraiser is finished, the squad is rehearsing for their first performance Aug. 30. Hancock is counting the days.
Do the Highlandettes have “signature” moves or songs which you wouldn’t consider changing? What are they doing right?
“The Highlandettes “signature” would be “Conquest” – the field entrance for football games. Another would be “Brand New Day,” the finale in Revue, our spring show. What I love and appreciate about the Highlandettes, LHHS and the LH community is how big on tradition everyone is. I also love that everyone is so involved in everything. A Highlandette is not only a Highlandette. We have girls that are in choir, Wranglers, Girls Service League, National Honor Society, Student Council and other groups. The girls wear many hats, and I am so impressed by that. And I appreciate how supportive the LH community is – it’s incredible.
The Highlandettes are celebrating their 50th year. Is it time for “updating”?
I don’t want to make any big changes to the organization that will affect tradition, because the high school I went to used to be very traditional and that’s what I loved about it. There are small changes that I want to make that will affect the girls in day-to-day practice that will hopefully make them better athletes, performers and leaders.
You were captain of the South Garland Southern Belles and an officer on the legendary Kilgore Rangerettes. What leadership lessons will you share with your Highlandette officers? What performance tips will you give your line members?
I want every Highlandette to view themselves as leaders, so I won’t limit the leadership lessons to only the officers. The biggest lesson I want the girls to learn is that we are all servant leaders. We are all here to serve others and help others as much as we can. Although some of the team doesn’t have a leader “title,” they can still be leaders on the team, in the school and in their community. I have high expectations for the girls, and they know to give me their best and be the hardest worker in the room, but I don’t want performances to be stressful for them. Performing is supposed to be fun. I tell everyone to smile, have fun, and if they make a mistake – just don’t make that same mistake for a second time.
The Highlandette line has room for 60. How do you balance participation with keeping quality high?
We currently have 37 on the team – 34 line members and 3 managers. I would love to grow the team. It is a difficult line to walk, because as director I want the team to be big but I also want the talent to be there. It’s all about finding the perfect balance of quality and quantity. Something I will try my hardest to do is make sure I am setting up the drill prep classes (for potential new members) to ensure success the best I can.
Highlandettes keep a grueling year-round schedule. How do you keep spirits up for teens working long hours while some of their friends are off having fun?
Practice starts at 7:20 a.m. and goes to 9:30 when school starts, and the officers work during 7th period. The Highlandettes are hard workers, and we work really hard during practice – there is no way around that. But because we work so hard, we get things done quickly and have more time for team bonding and games.
Your first chance to see Hancock’s Highlandettes at a home game will be Sept. 13 when the Wildcats face Haltom. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. and the Dettes take the field for pre-game festivities a few minutes before that. Go Cats!
Hancock’s answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
You may view the Wildcat football schedule and roster here. You may read about Lizzie Arnold, the new Highlandette captain, here. You may read about Sheila Tume, head drum major for the Wildcat Band, here.