Kilgore College Rangerettes

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Kilgore College Rangerettes
Rangerette Logo.svg
"Beauty Knows No Pain" [1]
Formation19 September 1940; 79 years ago (1940-09-19)[2]
TypePrecision Dance Team
Gussie Nell Davis[1]
Dana Blair[3]
Assistant Director
Shelley Wayne[3]
Parent organization
Kilgore College
Rangerette Museum on the campus of Kilgore College in Kilgore, Texas

The Kilgore College Rangerettes, also known simply as the Rangerettes, are an American precision dance team from Kilgore College in Kilgore, Texas. The team was created by Gussie Nell Davis in 1939[4] and debuted on September 12, 1940.[5] The Rangerettes have performed in 69 Cotton Bowl game halftimes in a row (1951-2019),[4] and make regular appearances at NFL pre-game and half-time shows for the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans. The Rangerettes perform at Kilgore College football games, and in many other athletic and special events, including the Cotton Bowl game, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,[6][7] and the past five presidential inaugurations.[8][9][10][11] They have taken several world tours since the 1970s, including South America, the Far East, Romania, France, Canada, Japan, Italy,[12][13] Switzerland,[14] England,[15] Scotland, and Ireland.[2]


The Kilgore College Rangerettes were founded by Gussie Nell Davis, a physical education instructor from Farmersville, Texas who had previously taken an all-girl's group called the "Flaming Flashes" from being a simple high school pep-squad to an elaborately performing drum and bugle corps in Greenville, Texas. In 1939, Davis was hired away from Greenville High School by the Kilgore College Dean, Dr. B.E. Masters. Masters wanted something different than the traditional women's drum and bugle corps. He wanted something that would increase female enrollment at the college but would also keep fans in their seats during football half time shows instead of drinking alcohol under the stands.[16] Opting early to forgo the use of musical instruments, Davis focused her new team on dance and choreography, later naming the group the Rangerettes. The Rangerettes became a success early on despite criticisms of their uniforms featuring skirts above the knee, which by the 1960s had become much shorter. Davis served as the group's director for forty years, until June 1979.[17]


  • Gussie Nell Davis – 1940-1979[17]
  • Deana Bolton Covin - 1979-1993[18]
  • Dana Blair – 1993 to present[18]

Performances and appearances[edit]

A Partial List Major Performances over the past 25 years


Revels is an annual variety show with a central theme performed at Dodson Auditorium on the Kilgore College campus. Revels features performances by Rangerettes with several dances choreographed by nationally known choreographers such as J.T. Horenstein and Tracie Stanfield. There are five showings within the week of the program, and it is the last major performance of the year for the group. The revenue generated by the shows make it one of Kilgore College's highest grossing events. The last segment of the show is always an extended production kick routine, featuring all of the Rangerettes in the traditional uniform. Approximately 6,000 people see the show each year, with many people traveling from out of town to attend and provide a boost to Kilgore's economy.[22][23][24][25][26]


Rangerettes Forever is an alumni organization that participates in various support programs for the team. Only former Rangerettes who completed both years on the team may join.

In July 2005, the Zwick Foundation provided Kilgore College with a $3.5 million grant for design and construction of a new dormitory exclusively for use by the Rangerettes.[27] The residence was completed in August 2006[28] for the 2006-2007 school year, and was formally dedicated in a ceremony a few months later.[29] Kathryn Heller Zwick was a Rangerette from Longview, Texas, who attended Kilgore College and performed with the team from 1976 to 1978. Zwick's daughter, Lauren Gibler, was also a Rangerette from 2007-2009.[30]

During the week of Revels 2019 (April 10–13), a donation of $1,000,000 was made to the Mike Miller Rangerette Fund to complete a permanent operating endowment for the Rangerettes. The anonymous donor is a Kilgore College graduate whose wife is a former Rangerette.[31]

On Saturday, October 19, 2019, a former Kilgore College Rangerette and her husband donated a $3.5 million estate gift to fund scholarships for the Rangerette organization. The trust is set up to provide scholarships for Rangerettes and Rangerette Managers who meet the endowment's academic criteria.[32]

Controversy and criticism[edit]

Until the 1970s there were no African American members of the team.[1] According to the Texas State Historical Association, Davis said she would "be receptive when a qualified black tried out."[1] The Rangerettes selected their first black team member, Freddie Goolsby Evans, in 1973.[33]

Some critics have "expressed dismay at the emphasis on physical attractiveness and rigorous and authoritarian training."[1] Davis countered, "that there was nothing wrong in learning self-confidence, discipline, cooperation, and the ability to perform precision dance, along with poise, etiquette, and personal grooming".[1]

Rangerette kidnapping[edit]

In the late afternoon of December 29, 2016, there was an armed home invasion and kidnapping at Rangerette Director Dana Blair's home. The assailant kidnapped Blair's daughter, who at the time was a Freshman Rangerette. Blair's daughter escaped her captor a little over an hour later. The assailant, Nancy Alice Moats, was arrested on a charge of aggravated kidnapping and released on $500,000 bond on December 30, 2016.[34]

On June 22, 2017, Motes was indicted by a Gregg County Grand Jury, and faced first degree felonies in three charges encompassed in two counts for aggravated kidnapping. The first count included two charges: aggravated kidnapping with intent to terrorize and aggravated kidnapping with a deadly weapon. The second count had one count of aggravated kidnapping by deadly force.[35]

On December 21, 2018, Blair's attorney filed a civil lawsuit against Motes seeking monetary relief of between $200,000 and $1 million.[36]

On January 22, 2019, a start date of April 15, 2019, was set for the criminal trial against Motes.[37]

On April 29, 2019, Motes pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated kidnapping, one with a deadly weapon and one with deadly force. She was sentenced to two concurrent 5-year terms and must serve half of her 5-year sentence before she is eligible for parole.[38]

Popular culture[edit]

In anticipation of the organization's 75th anniversary, filmmaker Chip Hale followed the Rangerettes for a year, creating the documentary Sweethearts of the Gridiron.[39] In addition to Sweethearts of the Gridiron, the Rangerettes have appeared in four additional feature films: Seven Wonders of the World (1956), Beauty Knows No Pain (1971), Semi-Tough (1977), and Johnny Be Good (1988).

The Rangerettes have been featured in articles in several media publications, including: Life Magazine,[40][41] Sports Illustrated,[42][43] Newsweek,[44] Esquire,[45] Texas Monthly,[46][47][48][49][17] The Saturday Evening Post,[50] Popular Mechanics,[51] and Texas Highways.[52]

In the King of the Hill episode "The Company Man" (Season 2, Episode 9), Hank asks Peggy to wear a Kilgore Rangerette type outfit when they go out to dinner with Mr. Holloway, a man heavily influenced by Texan stereotypes.[53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Stanley, Jeanie R. (June 12, 2010). "Gussie Nell Davis". Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Acosta, Teresa Palomo (June 15, 2010). "Kilgore Rangerettes". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Betts, Minnie (July 19, 2019). "Kilgore College Rangerettes announce 80th line". KETK. Archived from the original on November 21, 2019. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  4. ^ a b O. Rufus Lovett, Elliott Erwitt, Katy Vine (2008). Kilgore Rangerettes. University of Texas Press. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-292-71673-5.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ Mary Kaye Coachman (2006). Dance Team / Team spirit!. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-4042-0731-8.
  6. ^ a b Bass, Gary (November 22, 2018). "Kilgore College Rangerettes performing in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade". KTRE. Archived from the original on March 6, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  7. ^ Mary Ellen Hanson (1995). Go! fight! win!: cheerleading in American culture. Popular Press. ISBN 978-0-87972-680-5.
  8. ^ a b c "Kilgore College Rangerettes to perform at inaugural ball". Longview News-Journal. January 19, 2017. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Pai, Tanya (January 20, 2013). ""Bigger is better" was the name of the game at the Texas State Society's inaugural celebration". Washingtonian. Archived from the original on March 6, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  10. ^ a b "2009 Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball". January 22, 2009. Archived from the original on October 27, 2013. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Herstek, Amy (January 19, 2001). "Black Tie & Boots gala to be Bush's Texas-sized victory party". CNN. Washington D.C. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Strough, Lucas (April 27, 2019). "Freshmen 'Rettes bound for Italy". Kilgore News Herald. Archived from the original on November 21, 2019. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
  13. ^ "Rangerettes arrive at Breda!". Italian Bowl. June 11, 2019. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "2018 Basel Tattoo: The Cast of 2018". Basel Tattoo Productions. 2018. Archived from the original on March 6, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  15. ^ a b "The 2019 Birmingham International Tattoo" (PDF). Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  16. ^ Evans, Andrew (March 25, 2013). "The Rangerettes". National Geographic. Archived from the original on March 6, 2019. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  17. ^ a b c Markovits, Rebecca (September 2004). "Texas History 101". Texas Monthly. Emmis Publishing. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Goldman, Dave (June 29, 2016). "Kilgore College mourning loss of Rangerettes' second director, Deana Bolton Covin". KYTX. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
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  23. ^ "Kilgore College Rangerette Revels". Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  24. ^ Mogle, Danny (April 4, 2018). "Rangerette Revels set for April 11–14 in Dodson Auditorium". Tyler Morning Telegraph. Tyler, Texas. Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  25. ^ "Rangerette Revels Tickets Going On Sale To Public March 26". KLTV. Longview, Texas. March 24, 2008. Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  26. ^ Evans, Andrews (March 25, 2013). "The Rangerettes". National Geographic. National Geographic Partners. Archived from the original on March 6, 2019. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  27. ^ "Zwick Foundation Gives $3.5 Million to Kilgore College for New Dormitory". July 25, 2005. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  28. ^ "Kilgore College Rangerette Residence". Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  29. ^ Hallmark, Bob (October 28, 2006). "Kilgore Dedicates Davis Rangerette Dorm". Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  30. ^ Loveton, Dave (October 2, 2008). "World-Famous Rangerettes to Perform at Tremblay Bowl". Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  31. ^ KLTV Digital Media Staff (May 14, 2019). "Anonymous donor gives $1 million to Kilgore Rangerettes". Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  32. ^ "Transformational $3.5 million gift to endow Rangerettes scholarships". Longview News Journal. Kilgore, Texas. October 19, 2019. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  33. ^ Reflections on Being First Black on Dance Team. AOL Video. 2013. Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  34. ^ Hallmark, Bob (December 30, 2016). "Kilgore College student safe after escaping accused kidnapper". KLTV. Longview, TX. Archived from the original on January 1, 2017. Retrieved December 31, 2016.
  35. ^ Katz, Chelsea (June 29, 2017). "Grand jury indicts woman in Rangerette kidnapping". Kilgore News Herald. Kilgore, TX. Archived from the original on July 6, 2017. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  36. ^ "Victims in Kilgore Rangerette kidnapping file lawsuit seeking up to $1 million against suspect". January 3, 2019. Archived from the original on February 14, 2019. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  37. ^ Strough, Lucas (January 22, 2019). "Rangerette kidnapping suspect gets April trial date". Kilgore News Herald. Kilgore, Texas. Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  38. ^ "Woman pleads guilty to 2016 Rangerette kidnapping, sentenced to 5 years". Longview News Journal. Longview, Texas. April 29, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  39. ^ "Sweethearts of the Gridiron". Archived from the original on October 12, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
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  44. ^ Proffltt, Nicholas (December 12, 1977). "Texas! The Super State". Newsweek. Vol. XC no. 24.
  45. ^ Camerer, Dave (October 1950). "Oklahoma, OK!". Esquire. p. 69. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  46. ^ Vine, Katy (September 2004). "Alive and Kicking". Texas Monthly. Archived from the original on June 13, 2018. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
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  48. ^ Ennis, Michael (January 1978). "The Texas Monthly Review". Texas Monthly. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
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  52. ^ Lumpkin, John (August 2019). "My Hometown: A True-Blue Rangerette Explains Why There's More to Kilgore Than Oil and the Drill Team". Texas Highways. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  53. ^ "The Company Man". King of the Hill. Season 2. Episode 9. December 7, 1997. 13 minutes in. Fox.

External links[edit]