Feb. 5, 2020 — “We are the Chiefettes the mighty mighty Chiefettes! Everywhere we go, people want to know, who we are, so we tell them …”
This was the exuberant chant of the Chiefettes as we rode the bus from the outlying areas of Kansas City, Mo., to the downtown football stadium for the Chief’s home games.
I was a Kansas City Chiefette performer during my high school days from 1966–70, culminating in the Chiefs playing in Super Bowl IV against the Minnesota Vikings on Jan.11, 1970. At Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, La., the Chiefs dominated the Vikings with a comfortable 13-point victory. The head coach was Hank Stram and the owner was Lamar Hunt.
Sunday’s 2020 Super Bowl LIV marks 50 years since I was part of the Kansas City Chiefettes performing group, and I am thrilled that the Chiefs won the Super Bowl again this week!
I remember Quarterback Len Dawson was considered the Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the time. As Chiefettes, we always hoped to get one of the footballs he ran with or kicked over the goal posts.
In order to become a Chiefette, auditions were given in a large ballroom in downtown Kansas City. Girls from all over the area auditioned for the chance to become a Chiefette.
I was selected at the audition as a young high school girl, and supported the Chiefs at each home game with pre-game and half-time dance entertainment. My two sisters, Ruth and Esther, were selected in the audition the following year, so all three of us were part of the popular performing team.
The directors of the Kansas City Chiefettes were Shirley Marley and Johnny Miller. They were my dance teachers then, and continue to run the Miller-Marley School of Dance in Kansas City.
The intensity of physical training was integral to being a Chiefette. Strenuous dance practices and athletic training were part of the position. Our routines were numerous and varied, from dancing with footballs to wooden suitcases, from balloons to feathers. The chant, “Smile, smile, smile!” was spoken by each girl as she stepped onto the field, maneuvering in precision as we looked up into the crowd of thousands above and all around us.
The exhilaration of this moment was unparalleled.
When thousands of people are watching and cheering as you perform challenging routines requiring physical agility, strength, coordination and poise, one’s personal character develops. The character that develops in the dancers correlates with the character of the football team. The players persist, struggle, achieve and win! Hard work, teamwork and physical and mental achievement all make a winning team in both football and dance.
Being in the Chiefettes taught me to work hard, achieve, focus and persevere. Our rehearsals were exceptionally demanding and challenging.
I remember the directors leading us with high kicks, 20 in a row, push-ups and sit-ups all in the heat and humidity of the Kansas City climate. We would hear them tell us, “Guide right ... higher kicks ... stay with the beat.”
I went on to minor in dance at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Following graduation with a degree in education, I became a YWCA Youth Director in Mankato, Minn. There I started a YWCA Pom Pom Squad and taught young girls some of the dance skills I had learned when performing with the Kansas City Chiefettes. Later, I attended the American Dance Festival at Duke University, in Durham, N.C., where I danced from sun-up to sun-down.
I still treasure my Chiefette uniform and my Chiefette necklace after all these years.
Plus, I still believe in strenuous athletic training at any age. I take ballet at our local Lane Community College and exercise regularly at Coastal Fitness. Dance and fitness are a dedicated lifetime focus for me, and the cornerstones for a healthy and long life!
(Dolly Greene has been teaching in the Siuslaw School District for 25 years since 1995, originally working as the Gifted And Talented instructor and currently teaching third grade.)