Skip to main content

Davis Journal

Chatelles came from struggling program to success

Feb 27, 2023 09:37AM ● By Becky Ginos

The Woods Cross Chatelles perform their Show routine as Pennywise. They won the first place trophy in the Show category at state. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Gallagher

WOODS CROSS—In 2012 the Woods Cross drill team only had six girls. Now the Chatelles have grown to 24 and won a first place trophy in the Show category at state – it was the first in 15 years. This Cinderella story is especially significant to coach Kelsey Gallagher because she was one of those six. It’s come full circle as she now leads the team.

“I started drill in 2012,” said Gallagher. “It was tough. We were not on drill to compete, it was more to keep the program alive.”

There was no student support for the team either, she said. “We were bullied, booed off the stage and given nasty nicknames. It was the most embarrassing thing you could do at the high school. It wasn’t cool like sports that were more popular back then. It was an uphill battle to where it is now.”

Drill started to fall apart at the school after an incident in 2010, Gallagher said. “Girls on drill were involved in shoplifting and half of the members were kicked off the team. The reputation became poor after that.”

Gallagher said she had always loved to dance. “The only way to do competitive dancing was in high school. I lost so many friends who said ‘don’t do it.’ It was more of an opportunity, not to win as a team but to grow as a dancer. We knew if we just lost one member the school would shut it down.”

A new coach took over her senior year, said Gallagher. “She owned a dance studio and some of her dancers joined so there were 22 girls on the team. A lot of them didn’t have dance experience so we couldn’t be competitive. We lost at state but that was the turning point. We weren’t so small.”

After graduation Gallagher still wanted to stay involved and eventually become a coach. “That never left me. I knew I’d coach the team sometime. I was persistent. I emailed the principal every single year. I’d faithfully gone to every drill competition since high school.”

In the meantime, she got into real estate and her life settled a bit, she said. “A position as assistant coach opened up at Woods Cross so I applied and got it pretty quickly. That turned into head coach when the other coach stepped out in 2020. It was tough in 2020 (pandemic) but we stuck it out.”

There are 24 girls on the team now, said Gallagher. “Overall a huge part of it is the girls who had enough confidence to join the team three or four years ago. They had the courage to actually try out and keep it going. They’ve since brought friends and we’ve created an awesome reputation.”

The girls who have joined are hard working and dedicated dancers, she said. “We’ve been able to do more competitive routines and our dancers work for it. They’re happy to wake up at 6 a.m. The result is it’s not just about the club, it's bigger than all of us.”

Drill is a whole different world, Gallagher said. “I love and appreciate what it is. For so many years no one has quit. It’s been really, really positive.”

The team this year all had the same goal, she said. “Every single one of them was committed to the goal that they wanted to go to state this year. That change in environment obviously turned into the result we wanted because of that.”

Gallagher said they are proud to have one of the kindest drill teams. “They’re all friends and awesome kids.”

It’s cool to come back and be the head coach, she said. “To see where it is now is rewarding. It came 10 years later but it definitely came. The program has seen a lot of coaches changing hands but I plan to be there for many years to see them succeed.”