For the first time ever the Texas State Strutters will perform in maroon and gold uniforms this football season.
The team has worn the same iconic uniforms for the past 17 years, but on Aug. 22, a brand-new look was debuted at their annual Meet the Strutters event.
“We wanted Meet the Strutters to be a grand unveiling, so we made sure that none of the girls posted the uniforms on social media or anything before that day,” said Tammy Fife, Strutters director. “It was hard because they were all so excited, but we told them they could only show their moms.”
The uniforms have not always been maroon and gold.
In fact, the Strutters started out wearing red, silver and white, eventually switching to the iconic maroon, silver and white uniforms.
The new uniforms are the first to don the signature gold of the Bobcats’ maroon-and-gold color scheme.
Fife said former Texas State president John Garland Flowers gave Strutters’ Founder Barbara Tidwell permission in 1960 to establish a dance team at the university.
Flowers told Tidwell she could pick whatever color she liked for the team’s uniforms, Fife said.
“She picked red because she liked the bright color, and they stayed that way for a long time,” Fife said.
The Strutters went through many variations of the red uniforms until the ‘90s when university officials mandated they switch to Texas State’s signature maroon color.
Last year marked the 55th anniversary of the dance team. To commemorate the occasion, the squad performed in recreations of the red uniforms worn by the original members.
Mary McBeth, board president of Strutters Always, said the original uniforms included a vest, waist cincher, skirt, slip, petticoat, bloomers and a specific hairdo.
“While I was in Strutters, we had a signature flip that our hair had to have,” McBeth said. “Some of the girls would wear rollers and curl their hair, but most of us wore wigs or clipped in falls.”
McBeth said she wore the original red-and-white uniforms while she was attending the university.
Katy Paulsen, Strutters head captain, said the team has relaxed their hair requirements in recent years.
“A lot of us have varying lengths of hair on the team, so we just make sure everyone wears theirs curled—unless it’s really short and then they can wear it straight,” Paulsen said.
Paulsen said it has been 17 years since the team had their last uniform change partly due to a hesitation to part with the “classy, traditional Texas style” the Strutters are known for, Paulsen said.
“We also realized it was time for a change when we realized that the freshman girls coming into the squad this year were younger than the uniforms themselves,” Paulsen said.
Fife said another reason for the delay in change was funding. For the last uniform change, the Strutters were able to get their funding from the Student Service Fee. This time around, Fife said the group was denied.
“We just kept thinking, ‘Surely the university is going to pay for these,’ but they really didn’t do much and so we just finally realized we’d have to find the funding ourselves,” Fife said.
In addition to donations from Strutters alumni, the athletic department donated $15,000 to the group to help fund the new uniforms. Without that donation, the group likely would not have made the money it needed, Fife said.
The team has a reputation extending far past the reaches of Texas State
As the first and largest precision dance team to be founded at a four-year institution in the U.S., they are often imitated right down to their uniforms.
Other universities and high school teams often copy the Strutters uniforms. Fife said she and the Strutters officers spent almost over a year designing and redesigning the new uniforms to get them right.
“Part of the pressure of making new uniforms is making sure that we don’t look like a typical high school squad,” Paulsen said. “We are a collegiate precision dance team and we wanted to make sure and look like it.”
Paulsen said she is hoping the team can keep up their tradition of being trendsetters with the new uniforms.
“These skirts and uniforms really move with us when we dance,” Paulsen said. “They have a lot of sparkle and I can’t wait for the crowd to see what we can do with them.”
Follow Imani McGarrell on Twitter at @ImaniMcg.