Top Notch Twirler: Crimsonette follows in mother's footsteps
By Lauren Lane | Staff ReporterBy Lauren Lane | 11/05/2015 11:36am
Savannah Zechiel and Paige Robertson pose with their moms. Photo courtesy of Savannah Zechiel
Terri Zechiel always dreamed that her daughter, Savannah, would grow up to be a Crimsonette like she was, but it didn’t take much convincing. Savannah Zechiel recalls being enamored by the shimmering costumes, seamless movements and incredible poise of the Crimsonette dance team at a young age. Savannah grew up listening to her mother’s experiences and looking through old pictures of her days as a member of the team.
“I saw my mom with all of her old Crimsonette stuff all over the house, and I always watched them most at football games,” said Savannah, a freshman majoring in exercise and sports science and food and nutrition. “It was just something about them.”
Terri said she never wanted to force Savannah to do something she didn’t want to do, but she wanted to make sure that she provided Savannah with the best means and opportunities to get there if she wanted to become a Crimsonette.
“I had so much at The University of Alabama being a Crimsonette, and I knew that the way I got there was through God, and if I raised Savannah right, she would have the choice to do that too,” Terri said. “I wasn’t going to make her, but I wanted to prepare her. I firmly believe that if we plan correctly, then we perform correctly. I knew that if she could do that, her chances would just be wild. i just wanted to give her that opportunity.”
Terri said the audition process for the Crimsonettes is not for the faint of heart. Potential members are expected to not only twirl but also dance and be in top physical condition. The prestige and discipline it takes far outweighs many other collegiate majorette teams.
“I think when the Crimsonettes were developed, they were with such a high standard, which has been maintained over the years,” Savannah said. “I think that, when you’re viewing them from afar, and you just see how precise they are and how much they put into what they are doing, even if it is the little things, that there’s just a respect and I want to be a part of it.”
Savannah entertained the idea of going to different colleges and trying out with different teams, but she said that every time she mentioned other schools her mother kept emphasizing going to the University and trying out for the Crimsonettes instead of another majorette team. Savannah said that in the end, she eventually became grateful for her mom’s influence to come here and has enjoyed her time as a Crimsonette thus far.
“Even though the Crimsonettes were developed during her years, a lot of the traditions they instilled are still kept alive through us, and it’s cool when they come to alumni games to see them perform the same way we do even with a thirty-year difference,” Savannah said.
Savannah said the whole tryout process and trying to balance school and a sorority, along with being a Crimsonette, has made her relationship with her mom much stronger.
“Sometimes when I’m freaking out over a game or a certain event, I can call her, and she has been there and gets it,” Savannah said. “It’s hard going into freshman year, and it’s so nice to have her to help guide me through it all. It’s like an unspoken bond. We just get it.”
But while traditions have stayed the same, Savannah said that there have been some major changes since her mother’s days that can make being a Crimsonette tougher than the past.
“Well, the outfits are definitely different,” Savannah said. “I think how the University and fan base has grown and just the overall fan experience at football games has developed over the years. I think the pressure is on a little bit more with more fans and publicity with the growth of college football.”
Ever since Savannah earned her place as a Crimsonette this summer – the moment her mother had been dreaming of – Terri said it has been an incredible experience watching her daughter perform at each game.
“I’m just so grateful,” Terri said. “It’s so heart-warming and an honor for my daughter to follow in my footsteps. When I go to the games and am watching her, because I’ve already done it, I don’t try to live through her like some moms. I know how much fun she’s having and the hard work she’s having to go through.”