The Cardettes began in the Spring of 1960 with 3 young ladies who gathered together to promote school spirit. It was with the assistance of students Ethelene Henning and Myra Odom that the team was officially established as one of the college's outstanding attraction of the future in the fall of 1960. They began there traditions entertaining crowds at halftimes of Hic-Jic (Henderson County Junior College) football games. There began history! The ladies were under the direction of Mrs. Jean Bell from 1960-1963 and the team ranging in size from 25-30 dancers.
In early 1963, Virginia King then became the director for a small amount of time where she took the Cardettes to perform in the Heart of Texas Fair in Waco.
Then the reign of Mrs. Maetta Davis-Cumby began in the Fall of 1963. She and choreographer Dale Robbins built the team up considerably. In 1965-66, the Cardettes were 60 members strong. They traveled to the Junior Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the State Fair of Texas, and the HemisFair in San Antonio. The memorable "Cardette Bounce" wowed audiences both near and far during this time. Mrs. Davis established the enviable position of the Cardette Escort in 1965 and the Cardinal Dancers in 1966-67.
Mrs. Davis-Cumby stayed with the Cardettes until 1973 when Mrs. Twink Sitton Ross took over the team. The Cardettes added the famous "flip wigs" to their uniforms during this time. In 1974-75, the team performed at an Atlanta Falcons Football game, the Fiesta Flambeau in San Antonio and marched in a parade during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
The team was then handed to Leigh Christiansen from 1975-76 where 25 Cardettes still continued to entertain at HCJC events.
It was then in 1976 when Mrs. Pam Tiner arrived on the scene. During her four years as director, she continued the Cardette tradition of poise and precision. Her Cardettes were good will ambassadors representing Athens and the State of Texas performing at such events as Texas Governor Briscoe’s visit to Athens.
Billie Jean Hanna then took over as the Director of the Cardettes from 1980-83. She and her ladies traveled to the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans and continued to cheer on the Cardinals at all Hic-Jic Football games.
Then Baker Era began in 1983. Jean Baker came to HCJC in June of 1983 with only a handful of Sophomore Cardettes planning to return. They took the field that Fall with over 40 members at the first football game of the season. Jean Baker, with the help of Betty Loter with Loter's, changed the look of the Cardettes by designing the crisp white uniforms with the flashy red hats, which has now become their trademark. Under her reign, the Cardettes became world famous. They travel domestically to such places and events as Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana; the Orange Bowl Parade and Halftime in Miami, Florida; the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas; the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the Hollywood Celebrity Christmas Parade in Hollywood, California; and the Macy's Parade in New York City, New York. The Cardettes also made several nationally televised appearances and performed overseas as well.
The Cardettes became the first dance team ever to perform in Moscow, Russia. They have also danced in Zurich, Switzerland; Nassau, Bahamas; and Nice, France. They performed for President Ronald Reagan and Vice-President George Bush live on National Television during the 1984 Republican National Convention. The Cardettes were also involved in Texas Governor Ann Richards’ 1990 inauguration. It was also during this time that Baker created the annual Cardette Spring Show, which continues to amaze audiences late April. The Cardette Pom Squad was established during this time as well. Baker also instilled in her Cardettes that they will "never be this young a beautiful again" and that even though being a Cardette is about performing it is what Cardettes become that makes a differance...wonderful future mothers.
During Jean Baker’s years from 1983-1995, her daughter Debbie Baker was the choreographer for the team. Together they were strong disciplinarians who demanded that now famous “THANK YOU” response that has been heard and imitated worldwide. Debbie designed the traditional entrance routine to “Deep in the Heart of Texas” with the "red wave" and choreographed the routines for all of the Cardette special events.
Upon her mother’s retirement in 1995, Debbie followed in her footsteps and took over as Director. She was associated with the Cardettes for over 17 years. Under Debbie’s direction, the Cardettes traveled again to Zurich, Switzerland; Hollywood, California for the Hollywood Celebrity Christmas Parade; and New York City, New York for the Macy's Parade. They performed for the entire Air Force Academy at a football game in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and continued the tradition established in 1990 by marching in the Capitol One/Adolphus Children's Christmas Parade in Dallas, Texas.
Debbie Baker retired in October of 2000 and handed over the director title to Darla Hannigan Mansfield. Mrs. Mansfield was a proud TVCC Cardette from 1989-1991 where she served as Cardette Freshman Representative, Cardette Captain and was a recipient of the TVCC President’s Award. She continued to return back to Cardettes instructing masters classes, judging, and choreographing for their annual spring shows while completing her Masters Degree from Louisiana Tech University. In 1997 Darla came onboard at TVCC as the Assistant Registrar/School Relations Officer and Cardette Assistant Choreographer.
Since October 2000, Darla has maintained the values and well loved traditions of Cardettes with great pride. The Cardettes continue entertain at all TVCC football and basketball games as well as pack their bags and perform for the world. Darla has also reestablished many lost traditions such as Cardette Showgirls and the Cardette Bounce. In 2010, the Cardettes celebrate their 50th Anniversary with and outstanding yearlong celebration. THE alumni gathered together on Homecoming for a huge reception where they were honored by Mayor Randy Daniels who proclaimed October 23, 2010 as “Cardette Day” and the Cardettes also received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition buy Congressman Jeb Hensarling. The alumni met all throughout the year and the celebration was concluded on board the Norwegian Epic cruise ship where the Cardettes and Alumni performed on board while cruising the Mediterranean. It was a memorable trip getting to perform and see the sights of Spain and Italy.
In 2011 the Cardettes traveled to Branson, Missouri for the Veteran’s Week Celebration marching in the Veteran’s Day Parade, performed at the Haygood’s show, as well as with Tony Orlando in his Yellow Ribbon Salute to Veteran’s. The Cardettes enjoyed Thanksgiving Day at Cowboys Stadium being part of the Salvation Army commercial with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, performed at pregame, and danced at half-time with Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull.
In 2012, the Cardettes were feature performers for the Children’s Medical Center parade as well as for the inaugural Heart of Dallas Bowl game. They also traveled to London, England and performed at various festivals and events.
In 2014 the Cardettes hosted a special performance event to over 100 dancers. This special group was formed to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Children’s Medical City. It is a great opportunity to send holiday wishes to children and other families.
As well in 2014 the Cardettes were feature performers for the 96th Annual Philadelphia Thanksgiving Parade where the marched and were highlighted in the finale number of the parade. The Cardettes enjoyed Philadelphia and as well traveling to New York City.
The Cardettes dance style in the fall semester is primarily collegiate level high kick, jazz, pom, and prop performed at TVCC football games and large specialty events. In the spring semester, their style of dance is studio based. Each year the Cardettes host a Spring Production where these styles are showcased. We also have a competition team, Cardette Showgirls, continuously hold title of “Collegiate Academic Champions”. Cardettes were also named Dance Team Union National Champions in 2017 in Las Vegas…future looks bright in Cardette land!
With the 2015-16 marking 55 years of Cardette tradition and 50 years of the Cardette Escort, it is safe to say we value cherish each moment and memory as a TVCC Cardette. A lot of our traditions are visible to the public and a lot are just “understood” in the family. Some of our most cherished traditions are The Cardette Chant, Sister Pose, Cardette Connections, Big/Little’s, red nails, red hats, traditional field entrance to “Deep in the Heart of Texas”, 34 years of the crisp white uniform and respected THANK YOU response. Beyond the boots and hats stands an organization, rich in tradition, which will leave you with cherished friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.
Here is to many more years of Cardette History..................