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Bridge City’s Riley anxiously awaiting to see team “Strut” again

By Van Wade

BRIDGE CITY – For 24 years now, Cathy Riley has led arguably the best high school dance drill teams in Southeast Texas in the Bridge City Strutters.

Their halftime performances at football games over the seasons have always been amazing and electrifying to Cardinal fans for over 30 years.

Though football season is fun, the Strutters have always done their most vigorous work during the spring, which includes their annual Spring Revue and a trip to their annual National Dance Competition at The University of North Texas in Denton.

However, the coronavirus wiped those out, among many other things.

“I feel for the kids so much because they were working so hard to produce the best production for those events,” said Riley. “That is usually the highlight of their year and to miss out on that was really tough.”

One other big missed opportunity was the trip the Strutters had planned for the weekend before Spring Break to Disney World but they had to stay home due to Disney World closing because of COVID-19.

There is no doubt that spring has always kept the Strutters busy.

“When you think of football season, that’s the time of year where everything is a breeze for the Strutters,” said Riley. But it’s the spring when things really get fired up.”

It’s certainly not all about the dancing and the moves either.

“We do a lot of work on our different dances and productions but so much more goes into it,” said Riley. “The kids are constantly working on props, costumes and finding the right music and then they work to get everything in sync. It takes a whole lot of work and dedication and that just goes with making sure they are making good grades in their classes.”

Riley definitely misses the time with the team.

“I’m used to being with them so much, I mean, we were together in the last period of the day all the way up to 5:30 p.m. and a lot of times to 6:30 p.m.,” said Riley. “I miss those smiles and I miss watching them perform and continue to strive to be the best they can be. I get so much out of watching them improve.”

Riley definitely feels for her seniors and the Class of 2020.

“It is such a great class and I will forever miss spending the rest of the school year with them,” said Riley. “We were able to have a nice sendoff for our seniors, especially with a nice video tribute. Every time I think about it, it kinda brings me to tears. A senior year is supposed to be one of the best years of your life and this year’s senior class was a great group for sure. I always try to tell the kids to soak in the moments and they will have memories that will last their entire lives.”

Riley has assigned assignments and workouts for the Strutters and is currently anxiously awaiting some dance performances videos from them.

“It’s a great way to communicate with them and we have to do the best we can at this time,” said Riley. “I’m really looking forward to seeing how much work they have put in and see how well they are doing.”

Everything is kind of in limbo on when schools will start the 2020-21 school year but Riley wants to be sure to stay in touch with the kids and making sure they will be prepared for what’s coming.

“We usually always have our Line Camp in the last week of July but we’re not sure because we’re waiting to see what happens,” said Riley. “We might have a chance to have it earlier. Like everything else that is happening, it’s a waiting game. I just want the girls to stay in the best shape that they can. I don’t want them to come in and say during the heat of the summer, “uh-oh” I didn’t keep myself in shape enough.”

Riley, a dancer in her college days for the famous Kilgore College Rangerettes looks to help continue the fabulous tradition in Bridge City and the Strutters can certainly say they are one of the best dance teams in the state.

“It’s such a fun job, it’s so easy for me because I simply love it,” said Riley, who also teaches English. “We have a lot of girls that love to dance and every year is great because we get to do so many fun and crazy things. It’s way more than a job. I call it my passion.”