WAXAHACHIE — Finley and Howard Chey-Annes. Waxahachie Ninth Grade Academy Maidens. Waxahachie High School Cherokee Charmers.
On Friday nights, they are the freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors that bring life to halftime crowds under the lights of Stuart B. Lumpkins Stadium.
At 5 p.m. Thursday at J.W. Williams Gymnasium, however, girls from previous lines as well as parents and fans will pack the stands to watch the 55th line of the dance and drill team's history open their year with a Summer Camp Showoff.
What fans will this year will that they may haven't during extravaganza is a small but noticeable Erika Pointer-Wilcox-inspired twist on a program that's lasted more than three decades.
"All four drill team groups will be 'showing off' what they have learned in their respective camps," Cherokee Charmers director Pointer-Wilcox said, curling her slender fingers into air quotes. "Both junior high teams, the Finley and Howard Chey-Annes, the [junior varsity] drill team Maidens and the varsity Cherokee Charmers have been working hard at choreography camp with American Dance/Drill Team School. In addition to routines for football, pep rallies, and basketball the girls will also be performing contest routines this year."
From naming athletes like Michelle Jansen and Marurissa Rendon Rookie and Veteran of the Day to inviting Alexandra Allred, a Dallas area author, speaker and kickboxing instructor, to camps, the Charmers' leading lady said the offseason has been a whirlwind.
Especially after the grind of a three-week boot camp that culminates in the two-hour, four-team spectacular.
"The 55th line is a young team but one that works hard and is filled with quick learners that are committed to carrying on the Charmer tradition of excellence," Pointer-Wilcox continued. "It's only July and they've already learned nine pre-game, stand routines and strut out routines in only three weeks of camp. They have worked very hard each day and they have come together as a team."
According to the long-time director, some of the painful and tearful adjustments that came from the sweeping changes associated with the graduation of her captain, lieutenants and key senior personnel was blunted by the "grandmothered" leadership from a 54th line that won multiple awards during the contest season and April Spring Show.
It is now the 55th Line's time, Pointer-Wilcox said, to step in and create their own history when football season — and its yearly expectations of greatness — present themselves when the Indians face Lakeview Centennial High School on July 1 at Lumpkins Stadium.
"It's coming up pretty fast," Pointer-Wilcox said. "As we conclude our third week of camp, I'm proud to say they have been working very hard to perfect all aspects of a Friday night performance — from pregame to stand routines to a county-famous halftime show. We're not on pins and needles, but we're ready. I think everybody here is. We are just as excited to start the season as the boys in helmets and pads and look forward to watching win and dancing with precision and joy under those bright Friday night lights at Lumpkins."
---- Marcus S. Marion is the sports editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror. He can be reached by phone at (469) 517-1456 or across social media platforms @MarcusSMarion.