Dancing queen, only 17

Mary+Claire+Wright+stands+outside+of+the+Highstepper%27s+dance+studio.+Wright+was+selected+to+lead+as+the+team%27s+2020-2021+Captain.

Photo by Peyton Sims

Mary Claire Wright stands outside of the Highstepper’s dance studio. Wright was selected to lead as the team’s 2020-2021 Captain.

Story by Reese Langdon, staff writer

The lights blinded young Mary Claire Wright as she walked into Tiger Stadium for the first time in the sixth grade. During halftime, she got her first glimpse of the girls in the sparkly hats, white boots and red lipstick as they walked across the field in sync. She made it her goal to one day dazzle under the Friday night lights like them.

Six years later, she found herself sitting nervously watching a video that announced who the Captain would be hoping to hear her name.

Ever since I was little, I would watch the captains of drill team. I knew that one day, I wanted to be the girl in the sparkly uniform. It has always been a desire of mine, and I am so honored to be in this position.”

— Mary Claire Wright

“My mom and I were just sitting in my room refreshing the page [with the online results] to see when they were going to announce it,” Wright said. “Whenever they announced my name, I immediately fell to the ground, and me and my mom started crying. It was such a special moment that I will never forget.”

Wright began her dancing career at Dancetastics in Hope, Ark. when she was 3. After six years at Dancetastics, she wished to improve her dancing abilities. She began competitive dance at a studio in Magnolia, Ark. for another six years. 

“I think the years that I danced before I made drill team really just prepared me. They helped me a lot in becoming a better dancer and just everything in general like time management and all that. So I’m very thankful that I had all those years of working and getting to where I am now,” Wright said.

When Wright made the Highsteppers team at the end of her eighth grade year, she stopped taking dance classes for a while. She now takes private lessons at Red Door Dance in Texarkana, Texas. After 16 years of dance, Wright worked her way to the top, exemplifying the concept that diligent work makes a difference. 

“It is such a rewarding feeling knowing that all your dedication and hard work finally paid off,” Wright said. “It’s a feeling I cannot describe to anyone.”

Wright has always looked up to previous captains as positive role models and believes that this year’s officer line will also be a positive role model for this year’s team. 

“I am so pleased with this year’s officer line. We’re all really close, and I just love all of them so much; they are so talented,” Wright said. “The team members are also great, and I am so excited to see what this year has for all of us.”

While some might not consider drill team to be a sport, the necessary athletic ability and dedication would more than likely classify it as a sport.

“I have to say, I would like [those who say it’s not a sport] to go do gussies with us every Monday,” Wright said. “Believe what you want to, but we have fun with what we are doing and that’s what matters.”

Many seniors are upset that traditions might get taken away from them due to COVID-19. However, Wright continues to try to make the best of every situation for herself and her team.

“Thinking about things getting taken away from us this year has been so hard and makes me so sad, but I know that we as a team are going to try our best to make this the best year possible,” Wright said. “I’m really going to try and always look on the bright side of things.”