Zoe McCurley and Claire Preston are the first two Belles to ever perform with the Wylie drill team all the way from 7th-grade through high school.
They are also the last two members of the school’s first-ever drill team.
“We can say that we started and made it all the way from beginning to end,” Zoe said. “We are the first to say that.”
Zoe and Claire were best friends when Wylie mom Leah Wilson convinced the district to start a drill team in 2011. Zoe and Claire were going into the 7th-grade, and they went together to try out for that inaugural team. They didn’t know anyone at the tryouts but each other. They did their best and made the Junior Belles.
They have remained best friends, and this year, they are captains together in their final year as Belles.
“We started together,” Claire said. “We’ve gone through it together, and senior year we get to share the position of captain.”
“It was so special,” Zoe said of trying out for captain and being named co-captains. “It was very exciting.”
The pair said it is amazing how far the Belles have come in their first six years of existence. The team was small and was not allowed to perform on Friday nights at first.
“When we first started, we were performing only at basketball games,” Claire said. “Now we are performing all the time.”
Now the Belles perform at halftime of football games, as the band plays for them. They also get to perform at half the pep rallies. They also continue to perform at some basketball games in the spring, and they attend contests, host a Mini-Belles Program and perform in a showcase at the end of each school year.
The Belles have come a long way.
“We’ve taken stepping stones,” Zoe said. “Every year the team gets bigger and better. You see how special it is when it gets bigger and better every year. It’s so awesome.”
The Belles spent three weeks prior to school working from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day on their routines for this fall. Many of the newer members of the team had little dance experience, but Zoe said by the end of the year, they will be dancing like pros.
“By the last performance of the year, it’s crazy to look back,” she said.
Both girls said they have learned so much from their work with the Belles.
“We learned a lot of respect and discipline,” Zoe said. “There’s a lot of very special rules in drill team. They are life lessons. It makes you a better person.”
Claire agreed, saying she also learned to care more about the team than about herself.
“I am the best person that I can be every day because I have this team that’s counting on me,” she said. “It’s not all about me. It’s about the team.”
The girls work so hard on their routines all summer long, that they don’t really get nervous on Friday nights.
“You know the dance,” Claire said. “All you have to do is perform and enjoy it. You are just dancing to the music.”
Zoe agreed that nerves are not a big problem on Friday nights. But pep rallies are a different thing, she said.
“Pep rallies are very nerve wracking,” she said. “You are nervous for your team because you want everyone to do well. You want to put your best foot forward.”
Zoe and Claire are ready to lead their team this year – their final year. Neither girl intends to dance professionally but Claire said she hopes to dance with a college team. They are both greatful that the Belles came along when it did at the perfect time for them.
“It’s so special to us,” Claire said. “I’m a dancer. It was like a dream come true. To be able to support your school and do what you love is amazing.”