As the former El Campo High School Derby Doll Director Jenna Zabodyn steps down, Jenna Lawson will take her place. Lawson, a native of Stephenville, has been the drill team director at Needville High School for the past six years.
“I started that team in 2015 ... the Needville Sapphires,” she said.
Lawson, who is excited to lead the Derby Dolls in her first season here, has seen the drill team perform numerous times, as the Needville Bluejays have been in the same district as the El Campo Ricebirds.
“I saw the Derby Dolls perform,” Lawson said. “They’re really a great team. And when I saw the opportunity, I couldn’t pass it up.”
Lawson is also familiar with encouragements Derby Dolls receive.
“The support the girls get is not only from parents, but from the community, too,” she said. “Everyone knows that.”
Lawson was recently introduced to the 2021-22 Derby Doll squad as ECHS Principal Demetric Wells held a greet and meet session on campus. She was impressed by the welcome she received.
As a drill team director, Lawson draws upon her own experiences being on a drill team during her high school years. Her goal was to lead a team someday.
“When I went to college, that’s when I discovered that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
Attending Tarleton State University in her hometown, she pursued a degree in physical education and dance. She was also a member of Tarleton’s dance team, the Texas Stars.
Since then, she and husband Tyler, who is a coach and teacher, have worked for several school districts, including Big Springs and Granbury before working for Needville ISD the past seven years. Her husband has also taken positions at ECHS as a football and track coach. The couple have three children ranging from age three to nine.
Unlike seasonal sports, Lawson says a drill team is a year-long commitment.
“Most sports are three months and they are done,” Lawson said. “We don’t just perform at football games, but we have competitions all year. They will compete in the Spring and show what they are capable of ... they are very talented.”
Drill team practice has already begun, with dance technique and conditioning sessions. The group will also have camp the last week of this month.
“They will learn all routines for football and pep rallies,” she said.
This year’s squad has 45 dancers and six managers, as well as officers who have specific duties.
“I have a great group of officers who have lots of responsibilities for the team,” she said. “I am excited being a part of something so special in this community. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish.”
The Dolls will perform during halftime at the first home game on Friday, Aug. 27.