On Aug. 24, the North Olmsted High School Eaglets will perform alongside Eaglets alumnae from over the past 50 years to celebrate the program’s 50th anniversary. The performance will take place at North Olmsted High School’s stadium following the varsity football game against Valley Forge.
The Eaglets are broken into three squads: the kick line team and the flag line team perform with the marching band during football home and away games, and the jazz and hip-hop dance team performs at halftime at the boys’ home basketball games.
Becky (nee Mason) Sirek, of Westlake, graduated from North Olmsted High School in 1998 and was a member of the Eaglets during her high school career, as well as a coach for two years. Since the Eaglets do not have an alumnae association, Sirek has taken the 50th anniversary under her wing and has put together a weekend of activities to celebrate.
“It’s a very exciting time to be a part of this,” said Sirek. “I’ve had a lot of fun meeting women who graduated years before me and hearing that their Eaglet experience was very similar to my own and we shared in the same traditions. It makes me proud to be a part of the legacy.”
The Eaglets program was founded by Pat Dillon in the spring of 1962 after she was inspired by witnessing the “The Sweet 16” dance team perform at her alma mater, Ashland University. At the time, Dillon was a music teacher at North Olmsted Junior High, and the Eaglets’ first performance was more of a march than a dance during the halftime of the boys’ basketball game.
The team’s first uniforms consisted of white long-sleeved blouses and plaid skirts, but the team began selling sweatshirts as a fundraiser to obtain new uniforms including top hats, canes and the Eaglets’ signature white boots.
“It’s been good to see that there has always been a teacher to help the program continue,” said Dillon. “I’m very proud of all the people who have helped over the years. The parents, teachers and administration have kept this program going, and it’s very nice.”
Over the years, numerous traditions have been created and have made lasting memories for many Eaglets. Sirek reminisces about the Friday potluck dinners, when each girl would rush home, collect a dish and race to a team member’s house prior to the Friday night football game for a team dinner. Sirek also remembers the “Big Sis/Lil Sis” tradition, which provided new team members with an older Eaglet who mentored and befriended the younger Eaglets.
“This program builds confidence, friendships and leadership, such as the opportunity the girls have to be captains and co-captains,” said Sirek. “Many of our girls have gone on to dance professionally. We had a total of four girls, who were Eaglets, go on to become Cavalier Girls.”
Following the football game on Aug. 24, current Eaglets and 38 Eaglets alumnae will perform to “Hang On Sloopy,” which is a traditional number in the organization; the five flag line alumnae will perform with the current flag line to “Eye of the Tiger” as well. On Saturday, Eaglets alumnae are invited to a cocktail reception Sirek has put together at the Copper Cup in Westlake. The following day, Eaglets alumnae and current Eaglets will march in North Olmsted Community Council Homecoming parade, and a few of the Eaglets alumnae will be sporting uniforms from each decade of the Eaglets’ existence.
“The Eaglets have evolved into a special place in my heart,” said Dillon.