A long-time member and leader of the oldest college drill team in the nation is hanging up her hat after 16 years of service.
Susan Angell-Gonzalez, director and choreographer of the Strutters, is retiring at the end of this semester. Angell-Gonzalez was captain of the Strutters line from 1977 to 1979. She took over as the program’s director in 1997 when Barbara Tidwell, founder of the Strutters, retired. The Strutters were featured on America’s Got Talent in 2008 under Angell-Gonzalez and were awarded the Dance/Drill Team Directors of America Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. Angell-Gonzalez was named a Dance/Drill Team Directors of America National Top Ten College Dance Director in 2000.
Tidwell said she is sad to see Angell-Gonzalez leave. Tidwell believes Angell-Gonzalez has done a “tremendous” job creating international ambassadors out of the women on the line.
“I’m just crushed that she’s retiring. I had hoped that she would be there until I died,” Tidwell said. “Of course I love Susan dearly. I recruited her to be a Strutter when she was just 17 years old.”
Diana Hendricks, co-chair of Strutters, said Angell-Gonzalez’s retirement is bittersweet because she has made the Strutters a tradition.
“She has moved them into the 21st century in a way that nobody could have dreamed it would have happened,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks said this is the perfect time for Angell-Gonzalez to retire because it was “such an incredible year.” It would be hard to top this season, during which the Strutters performed on national television at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York and a Royal Caribbean international cruise.
Taylor Hansen, junior captain of the Strutters, said she has been inspired as a dancer while working closely with Angell-Gonzalez this year. Hansen’s favorite moment with Angell-Gonzalez was during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“Hearing her tell us how proud she was of us and how amazing we were going to be was the final push we needed before taking the streets of New York City,” Hansen said. “Knowing that Angell was proud of us made me so much more confident in what we were about to do.”
Angell-Gonzalez said directing and choreographing isn’t over for her, and she looks forward to her new chapter in life.
“I will continue to instruct dance team camps, workshops and contests,” Angell-Gonzalez said. “But I will take time out to travel and see the world.”
The dance team has put together an interview committee with the hopes of finding a new director and choreographer.
Hendricks said it will be an “incredibly intense” process that will include Tidwell, representatives from the athletics department, alumni and the Strutters officer line from this year. Hendricks said the effort will be worth it to find the right match.
“I certainly hope and pray that they get someone who is as good and as confident as Susan has been,” Tidwell said. “It will be hard to do.”
Hendricks said Angell-Gonzalez’s retirement will be a huge adjustment for the Strutters. She hopes the position will be filled by May.
“It would be wonderful if the position could be filled before April 12 because that is the weekend of the ‘Strutters Spectacular’ spring show,” Hendricks said. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the incoming director could be there for that?”
Hendricks said Angell-Gonzalez has done everything she can, giving her heart and soul to the organization. She knows it is time for someone else to step in and give it his or her best.
“It is so inspiring to see the amount of selflessness and dedication she pours into Texas State and the Strutters, and I consider it a privilege to have been one of her girls,” Hansen said. “I am truly going to miss her next year, but I look forward to making her proud.”