The Lindbergh Flyerettes Dance Team has built a legacy of excellence since 1969. While a staple at Lindbergh sporting events, the team is also nationally recognized. In addition to great dance talent, each Flyerette upholds a high standard of leadership, community service, and academic success.
History of the Lindbergh Flyerettes
Written by Mrs. Yvonne Cole, original coach of the Lindbergh Dance Team and updated in 2019 for the program's 50th Anniversary Celebration.
The Lindbergh Flyerette Dance Team (originally the Lindbergh Pom-Pon Squad) was founded in the Spring of 1969 through the efforts of a young lady named Karen McNeil. Because it was the middle of the year, school sponsorship was not available, so the group was originally sponsored by the Kirkwood YMCA.
By May of 1969, the team had acquired two Lindbergh teachers (Miss Yvonne Etienne-Cole and Miss Sandra Webb-Snodgrass) to sponsor them, so they received permission to perform at school functions during the 1969-1970 school year. When the organization was formally recognized, 100 girls decided to join. There were no tryouts, so everyone was permitted to join the team regardless of dance experience.
At that time, all the choreography was done by a representative from the YMCA. She made up all the routines, and then the Flyerettes went to the band director to obtain music. This complicated the process; there was one football game where the band finished playing before the routine was complete - can you imagine a kick line with no music? It was awful!
Each game that followed the first one was a unique experience. The team found new ways to mess up or give the crowd more fuel for their ridicule. There was always a different number of performers because more people would drop out each week; the team never knew from day to day how many girls were on the team.
Finally, the end of the football season came. The team had gotten used to being called the “Marching Bulldogs” and the “64 ugliest girls in the school.” The numbers dwindled to 30. The decision was made to divide the girls into two performing groups of 16 and 14. The smaller numbers were easier to work with at basketball games and made routines easier to teach and polish.
The first real tryouts were held in the Spring of 1970 with 50 girls participating. From that group, 24 members were selected. After about four years, people stopped laughing and actually started watching the performances! In those days it took guts to be a pom-pon girl, because you were subjected to a lot of verbal abuse.
About 1974 the team began to blossom with consistently good performances at school and the decision was made to compete. The first contest was held at Cleveland High School where the team did not place very well.
In 1979 the Flyerettes competed at Kirkwood High School. The Flyerettes competed against two other teams and finished second, but only three points behind the winning McCluer. The team felt that the next year would be the year to finally make it to the top.
The year 1980 brought many changes with the team attempting different types of routines at home so that the audience could be exposed to a variety of routine styles and types. Competition season rolled around, and it was to be held here at Lindbergh. The Flyerettes decided to go for broke and make a drastic change in routine philosophy--fewer steps, and more formations. As it turned out, it was a good decision because the team won! They had finally brought home the big one, and it was truly a wonderful feeling.
The ‘80-’81 season was more of a change than the previous year, with the team tackling the prop category for the first time. The audiences loved the change because for the first time, they could actually differentiate between one routine and another. The competition routine that year was also a winner, and the pressure was on for the next year to prove that the team could win anywhere. For the second year the Flyerettes travelled to Dallas for a national contest in order to get new ideas and to compare ourselves to some of the best groups in the country. This was again a successful venture, because we obtained some good ideas for the following year.
The 1983 season presented a challenge for the future. It was that year that the Flyerettes decided to move into the pro show for competition season. The fathers of the team members helped and those famous boxes with the concealed stairs--the ones that our competitors affectionately referred to as washing machines--were constructed. The team “Turned on Broadway” and moved into a new era. The crowd was flabbergasted at the dancing, the showmanship, and the difficulty. This was truly an amazing program.
As the decade of the eighties wore on, parents became a more integral part of the program. They were involved in making props, costumes and helping with travel plans. They became an invaluable resource to our successful program. As the eighties continued, so did the team’s creativity. In 1986 the team had 12 freshman rookies who were scared to death. It was uncertain what team would take the floor on that sunny Saturday afternoon at the competition. However, when the girls were greeted all day with the other teams wearing their “reign is falling” ribbons, they forgot about their anxiety and became totally determined. They decided to let their dancing do the talking and they took the floor and performed as they never had before. They stunned and amazed the crowd.
In 1989 the team had been competing in the MAPA Contest for 12 years and had been winning that contest for nine years straight. No other team had accomplished such a feat. Would it be possible to capture 10 in a row? The team agonized, practiced, worried, choreographed, perfected, and developed what they thought was a fun and entertaining show. In the midst of all this preparation, the team made their first trip to the Universal Dance Association’s National Dance Team Competition in Florida. The team performed a kick routine to “Join the Circus” dressed as clowns which made it to finals, though did not place. The team returned home with a determination set about the task to capture the gold in St. Louis. The team that took the floor at Ritenour High School on that March Saturday did not resemble the one that performed in Florida in any way. They were confident, self-assured and had the time of their lives. After the performance, there was no doubt the team had accomplished their goal. Where would they go from here?
It was decided that after 10 years it was time to retire from the MAPA contest because it was creating too much pressure to repeat. The nineties were here and there was a new, and as yet unfulfilled, quest before the team in the state of Florida. The team knew they had to improve their technique and choreography to be successful on the national level. However the team continued to be successful at the state level, earning the distinction of “Best in Show at the Miss Missouri Contest with their kick, pom and jazz routines.
The team returned to Florida in 1991 full of hopes and dreams of success. Although the team was unsure if their pom and kick routines would make the grade both routines performed better than expected with pom finishing 19th (out of 90 teams) and kick placing 10th (out of 24 teams).
In 1992 14 seniors provided the experience needed to set the stage for a great season. After much discussion, the team decided to return to Florida and give it their best shot. The prop routine that year was schoolroom themed, and the team tried to maintain the style they were known for (a large prop) but add to it the creativity that seemed to be necessary for this theatre. The kick routine was to the bubbly and exciting music from “La Cage Aux Folles.” The goal was to make finals. There were 24 teams in prop and two teams in kick. The team placed second in both categories! It was unbelievable. The team had broken through the four-year drought. They truly lived the motto, “We believed we could and we did.”
Upon returning to St. Louis, the team prepared for the Miss Missouri Drill Team Contest at Fox High School by adding a pom routine to their repertoire. The team was rewarded with a Sweepstakes trophy for earning a superior on each of their three routines, a judges’ award for all superiors from each judge on all routines, a presentation award, a choreography award and the Best at Contest Award. This was truly a successful season.
The rest of the 1990s saw continued success for the Flyerettes both at the regional and national level. The Flyerettes competed in both the kick and prop categories and took 1st place in both at the State level continuously. Some standout routines from this era include the “New York, New York” prop routine, and the “Joseph” kick routine (who could ever forget the rainbow sequined vests!). The 1993-1994 season saw the creation of the Junior Varsity Flyerettes, which gave room for dancers with potential to learn “The Flyerette Way” without the pressure of competing on the Varsity stage. In 1994 Gloria McBride also went from pom mom to assistant coach. She would continue to serve on the coaching staff until 2009.
In 2001 Coach Cole made the decision to stop competing in the kick category at the National Dance Team Championship, though the team would continue to bring kick routines to the state competition. Instead the Flyerettes would begin competing in the pom category. While this decision was met with some resistance, she felt that this is where the future of the program lay. This was also the first year that the JV team began performing on the field with Varsity at halftime. This change allowed for more unity within the program and gave the younger team members more exposure to the expectations of the Varsity level. It also allowed for those amazing long kicklines across Flyer’s Field! The 2001 season marked Cole’s last year as Head Coach. Her career spanned 32 years. She still holds the record for the longest tenure as Head Coach in the program’s history.
The next decade marked a lot of change and success for the Flyerettes. Former Flyerette, Jamie Jordan, took the reins of the program as Head Coach from 2001-2005. Throughout these years the team continued to work toward success in both the pom and prop categories. The 2005 Missouri State Dance Team Championship saw the return of the “Grand Champion” title that the Flyerettes had won every year from 1980-1992. The team felt the pressure to live up to the success of the former teams, and with the help of the fun-filled “Birthday” prop routine were awarded the title of “Grand Champion” for the first time in 11 years.
In 2005 another former Flyerette, Miranda Gelven, took over as Head Coach of the program after coaching at the JV Level for a year. At the 2006 Dance Team Championship the team had a goal of making it to pom finals for the first time in the program’s history. However, when the teams were announced, the Flyerettes were not among those going to finals. Coach Gelven couldn’t quite accept that this was the case and was shocked and exhilarated to discover that there had been a mistake in scoring and the team competed in the Large Pom Final category. Because they had not originally been named as finalists, the team fully expected to take 13th out of the 13 teams who competed in the final. When the Flyerettes instead took 11th place you would have thought they had won the entire category!
The 2007 National Dance Team Championship saw the last time the Flyerettes would compete in the prop category with their “Coal Mine” routine. In 2008 the team returned to the kick category they had historically been so successful in. The team placed 14th that year, showing that the team still had what it took to compete kick on the national stage. The 2010 National Dance Team Championship saw the team break into the top 10 in both categories with a 10th place finish in pom and a 9th place finish in kick. This also marked the first year the JV Flyerettes traveled to Florida with the team to compete. This decision helped to build the program and allow for even more unity and success. The team also continued to perform successfully in both the pom and kick categories at the state competition each year.
The 2011 National Dance Team Competition was one for the history books for the Flyerettes. It was this year that the team broke the top five of both the pom and kick categories with a 5th place finish in pom and a 4th place finish in kick. This was a huge achievement for a team who 10 years prior had not been competing in either category.
The 2011-2012 season brought yet another new coach to the team, with Natalie Shoults continuing the tradition of a former Flyerette taking over as Head Coach. The team found success under her leadership as well, with 5th place finishes in both pom and kick.
In 2012 former Flyerette, Jessica Cochran, took the reins as head coach. Jessica brought her conditioning background to the team and in 2013, along with assistant coach Kristin Goehri, lead the team to one of their highest placements in the pom and kick categories with a fourth place in pom and a third place in kick. In 2014 the Flyerettes returned to the Missouri State Dance Team Championship and placed first in pom, first in kick, got the choreography award, and held the Grand Champion title for the 6A category. Also in 2014 the Flyerettes hosted their first ever Alumni Dance Performance with over 30 alumnae performing on the field at pregame and half-time.
During the 2014-2015 season senior Maddie Lake was inspired by a performance of Fort Zumwalt West’s inclusive dance team at a local competition. She worked with the Sparkle Effect, a national organization, to bring an exclusive dance team to Lindbergh High School. The Shining Stars Dance Team had its inaugural season in 2015-2016. This team is comprised of both typically and non-typically developing dancers who perform at football games, basketball games and other school activities. It is hard to watch the Shining Stars without smiling, and if you haven’t had the opportunity to see them, you’re missing out.
The 2015-2016 season brought more changes to the Flyerette program with Maggi Geisz taking charge of the team. Maggi’s years of studio dance experience combined with her time on the University of Tennessee's dance team helped her to continue the success of the Flyerettes. Maggi’s connections in the dance world brought new choreographers and technicians into the program, and at the 2019 National Dance Team Championship the team took 5th in the kick category. This is the highest the team had placed in kick since moving to the medium pom category, and was a huge accomplishment considering the sizes of the other teams who typically make it to finals.
The 2019 National Dance Team Championship also saw the Junior Varsity team claim the program’s first ever National Championship title with a first place finish in the Junior Varsity kick category. The routine was choreographed by Coach Geisz and the team was coached by Allison Tripolitis and Julie Durham. After 49 years the Flyerette program had finally claimed those elusive white jackets!
In 2019, former Flyerette Allison Tripolitis took over as Head Coach. This year brought a fantastic 50th Anniversary Celebration as well as two new additions to the coaching staff, former Flyerette Elise Krueger and Rachel Bultas. This year the team continued to find success at local, regional, and national competitions.
Two weeks before the scheduled tryouts of the 2020-2021 season, all school activities were shut down, and the team was forced to pivot as so many of us were due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The team eventually chose to hold video tryouts, and started off the season with Zoom technique classes and workouts. The team was able to get together that summer outside to practice, though with many restrictions in order to keep everyone healthy. Eventually the team was allowed to begin performing at football and soccer games again, but received the devastating news that they would not be allowed to travel to the National Dance Team Championship. However, the teams continued to rally and participated virtually. Both the JV and Varsity Flyerettes won 1st place in their High Kick categories, which meant that every member of the team got the chance to wear the coveted white jackets.
The Flyerettes continue to thrive, and are so grateful for all of the Flyerettes who came before them and helped them to reach the level of success and acclaim that they have been able to achieve at the regional and national level. They continue to strive to be the best that they can be!
No Matter How Hard it Gets,
You Must Believe You Are Stronger than you think
The Lindbergh Flyerettes strive to find success both on and off the dance floor. Our goal is for every member of the Flyerettes to leave the program with more confidence, resiliency, and strength (both physical and mental) than when they entered the program.
We believe that every dancer who enters our program has value and can grow as a person and a dancer. Our coaching staff is committed to helping each and every dancer reach their fullest potential. Our program strives to make both the school and larger community a better place.