“So big sis/little sis reveal was a really exciting time during rangerettes because that is when you got like a special buddy who was a junior or a senior um if you were like an incoming freshman or a brand new sophomore and basically your big sis is what we called it and that is just someone who you can text with questions, someone who is a mentor, they teach you about rangerettes, they just help you out, and the reveal is really exciting because the freshmen would line up facing the juniors and a couple seniors who made us a hat box because we wore cowgirl hats on the field when we performed and they would like I guess each senior one by one would step up and walk down the line of freshmen and slow down to trick you and stop at the girl who was their little sis and it was very fun.”
Informant: The informant is a nineteen-year-old college freshman from Dallas, Texas. While in high school, she was a member of the Jesuit Rangerettes Dance and Drill Team. She attended the all-girls Catholic high-school, Ursuline Academy of Dallas, the sister school of Jesuit Dallas (an all-boys Catholic school). She began dancing when she was three, performing ballet, jazz, and lyrical styles of dance, which eventually led her to the high-school drill team. She currently attends Oklahoma State University.
I believe that this tradition is significant because it reveals the emphasis of sisterhood on a drill team. The Rangerettes Dance and Drill Team is an extracurricular activity unique to Texas and a few other southern states. The team performs at the half-time of football games on Friday nights, as well as at basketball, soccer, and rugby games. They wear leotards with fringe skirts, fringe and sequin overlays, gauntlets, a belt, white cowgirl boots, and sequined cow-boy hats. The season does not end with football season; rather, the team continues to perform at Jesuit events and participates in two dance competitions in the spring. Because this team is a year-long commitment, there are many extenuating traditions that serve to unify and “bond” the members of the team, in order to foster a spirit of sisterhood.
Because sisterhood is so essential to a team that is committed to working very hard year-round, the Big-Sis/Little-Sis tradition is especially important. I think the relationship between a big sister and a little sister is one of learning, motivating, and solidarity. Knowing that you have a “big-sis” on the team could give a new member the confidence that they need to effectively participate on the team. They have someone they can go to for advice and help if they ever have any questions. Their big-sis should be an approachable member of the team, and this practice also is a strategic way to foster relationships between older (and therefore more stand-offish) members of the team, and younger members of the team.
I think the practice of lining up the freshmen to surprise them with their big-sis emphasizes the importance of this tradition, as well as the nervousness that surrounds the situation. As new members trying to find a place on the team, as well as make new friends, the big-sis that they are assigned to could make a very significant impact upon how they feel as a member of the team. The drill team seems to place great emphasis on team bonding, so this is an important time. This nervousness and apprehension about who their big-sis is almost being mocked by the big sisters as they walk up and down the line trying to “trick” the new members about who their big–sis is.
In addition, the gift of the hatbox is especially significant in this tradition. Because the drill team members wear sequined cowgirl hats, which some consider the most important part of the uniform, your hatbox is going to be an essential component during one’s time on the drill team. To have it decorated specifically for a new member is especially noteworthy because it requires the big-sis to attempt to discover the personality of her little-sis so that she might make a hatbox that suits her, and it gives the little-sis a keepsake and symbol of her time on Rangerettes. These boxes are usually only big enough to fit the hat, but they are carried everywhere with the team. They serve both as protection for the hat, as well as decoration as they hold the symbolism of what it is to be a member of the drill team.