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Drill team director returns

Students welcome Amber Reynolds back from maternity leave
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With+her+Highsteppers+lined+up%2C+Director+Amber+Reynolds+talks+in+the+multipurpose+facility+on+Sept.+21%2C+2023.+Reynolds+was+on+maternity+leave+and+has+now+returned+to+work+for+the+remainder+of+the+2023-2024+school+year.
Anna Haley
With her Highsteppers lined up, Director Amber Reynolds talks in the multipurpose facility on Sept. 21, 2023. Reynolds was on maternity leave and has now returned to work for the remainder of the 2023-2024 school year.

A pep rally performance before every home game. A halftime performance every Friday. Pregame lines and ripples choreographed uniformly like clockwork. From an outsider’s perspective, this may seem like an average routine followed yearly for the Texas Highsteppers, but little do they know that for over a month, the team functioned without the guidance of their director.

Since the boot camp that took place the week before school started until her return on Sept. 14, drill team director Amber Reynolds has been on maternity leave. An undertaking far beyond what it may seem, planning for this absence was a long and detailed process.

“I started preparing for maternity leave in March and April, so pretty much everything that I would decide over the summer I needed to decide before school even let out,” Reynolds said.  “So that included picking choreographers, picking dances, songs, coming up with the calendars for August and September while I was gone, assigning different roles to each line officer so that they could do the things that I would do in August had I been here.”

The responsibility of running the team fell upon the line officers. Essentially, filling the role of Reynolds, even just day-to-day tasks, proved to be quite the challenge.

“One of my main responsibilities as an officer is to aid Mrs. Reynolds; however, because of her absence, my, along with the other officers’, main jobs became doing things she would normally do like setting formations and cleaning dances,” junior lieutenant Natalie Robinson said. “It definitely made the beginning of this year a little challenging, and I had to rely on the senior lieutenants to help show me how things are done.”

Along with the more complex jobs, line officers also had to take on the more simple, baseline roles of their director in terms of teaching the team, namely the rookies, commonplace activities.

This is really where I want to be all the time, working with the girls and being at each activity.

— Amber Reynolds

“I think just teaching a lot of just basic housekeeping things, how to put on the uniform and teaching expectations as far as academics and behavioral expectations fell on the officers,” Reynolds said. “But then there’s also physical things like setting the lines for pregame, choreographing what we do during pregame and choreographing the entrance and exit for all of the halftime routines.

As for other team members, Reynold’s absence served as a testament to the team dynamic, with everyone’s roles becoming just that much more important to the success of the team as a whole. 

“Everyone had to step up and give 100% every day so we could get where we needed to be without Reynolds,” senior Melissa Singleton said. “The officers were an extension of Reynolds while the seniors were put in more of a leadership position than I’ve experienced in the past three years. We had to adapt to the fact that there was no one there hands-on directing us.”

Although an initial struggle to adjust, this experience provided a learning experience to those on the team, somewhat preparing them for future obstacles.

“Even though it was a challenging few weeks, I feel that it really helped me to be able to adapt quickly to this new leadership role,” Robinson said. “I learned to lead with kindness while still being stern with the team.”

It’s safe to say that the Highsteppers are happy to have their director back, with their appreciation for her increasing tenfold, and while there is an adjustment period for Reynolds, this appreciation is still reciprocated on her part.  

“This is really where I want to be all the time, working with the girls and being at each activity,” Reynolds said. “Though tiring in itself, it’s still very rewarding to be back.”

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About the Contributors
Oviya Justin
Oviya Justin, Copy Editor
Oviya Justin had always dreamed of being Copy Editor her second year of newspaper. It was a bucket list item only slightly below meeting Zendaya and being the first woman to walk on the moon, Dr. Pepper in hand. Aside from newspaper, she is Vice President of Mu Alpha Theta and T-High ASPIRE, a member of NHS, ITS, Calculus Club, Latin Club and the Superintendent Student Advisory Team and a Junior Lieutenant in drill team. She enjoys painting, reading, listening to music and New Girl. Justin has a heavy course load and plans to sink further and further into a state of insanity as her junior year progresses. She’s about as excited for the year ahead as she is to edit every single person’s staff bio.
Anna Haley
Anna Haley, Photo Editor
Anna Haley is a second-year staff writer for Tiger Times as well as the Newspaper and Yearbook Photo Editor. She loves to hunt, fish, take photos and make graphics. If she isn’t doing any of those, she is in her backyard with her dog. She is one of the Top 10 Photographers in Texas and hopes to be a recurring member. Anna is excited about the new year as Photo editor!

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