June 18, 2024

Since their debut in the ’90s, the Aggie Dance Team has represented Texas A&M University at multiple venues across the country, from traveling alongside the acclaimed Aggie men’s and women’s basketball teams to competing—and winning—at national dance competitions. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the team. Before it became tradition to see them carrying flags at Kyle Field, performing on dugouts at Blue Bell Park and dancing at home basketball games, there was a time when the team had little support, recognition and funding. Take a trip down memory lane and see how the Aggie Dance Team has evolved over the past 30 years.

The Start of a New Tradition

The Aggie Dance Team was established in 1990 as a student organization. Although the team consisted of extremely talented dancers, they had no opportunity to showcase their abilities in an official capacity at Texas A&M. However, in the mid-90s, a dancer out of Houston named Susie (Shaw) Friedman ’97 ’98 came in and changed the game.

“When I got to Texas A&M, I knew I wasn’t ready to give up dancing. Then I came across Aggie Dance Team and knew I had to be part of it if I was lucky enough to make the team,” Friedman shared. “But those of us on the team wanted to make it something bigger than just a student organization. We wanted to put the team on the map, making it a lasting program where dancers left stronger athletes and teammates than when they joined!”

  • Eras of the Aggie Dance Team

    Former Aggie Dance Team captain Susie Friedman '97 '98 and Yell Leader Gary Kipe '97 at a Texas A&M basketball game in 1997.

  • Eras of the Aggie Dance Team

    1996 nationals practice where the Aggie Dance Team performed with pom poms made from strips of Hefty trash bags crafted by former captain, Susie (Shaw) Friedman '97 '98.

  • Eras of the Aggie Dance Team

    Former dancers with their coach, Jennifer (Hart) Hodge, on a talent recruitment trip in Houston.

  • Eras of the Aggie Dance Team

    The 1998 Aggie Dance Team posing in Rudder Hall with Miss Reveille VI.

  • Eras of the Aggie Dance Team

    From left to right, former member Meredith (Carpenter) Dunham '98, 2024 captain Farris Dees '24, former member Kristin (Berg) Wilson '09, current member Haley Mundy '25 and former member Susie (Shaw) Friedman '97 '98.

Friedman got right to work. In hopes of gaining some much-needed support, she contacted the assistant athletic director at the time, Mike Caruso, and pitched the idea of the team performing at athletic events. “I knew we had talented dancers,” Caruso said, “and I saw that our athletic programs, especially basketball, needed a boost of energy.”

Caruso presented them with the opportunity to perform at a few home basketball games, and eventually, they became a familiar face at G. Rollie White. “They brought a certain charisma to the court that I believe our players, coaches and fanbase desperately desired,” he emphasized.

Having lived up to Caruso’s expectations, the Aggie Dance Team moved from a student organization to an athletic support group shortly after. “Incorporating the dancers into Texas A&M’s athletic events proved to be a win-win situation,” he added.

Next on their agenda was finding a head coach to lead the team. Luckily, a promising prospect was in their backyard. Jennifer Hart instructed the impressive Bryan High School Shy-Anne Dance and Drill Team just a short 15-minute drive from campus. “I had never coached any level past high school, but when the opportunity presented itself to lead the Aggie Dance Team, I couldn’t say no,” she said.

Coach Hart took the team under her wing and decided that despite a lack of financial support, buy-in from the student body, uniforms or even a designated place to practice, the Aggie Dance Team was going to become something special.

Stepping into the Spotlight

Upon being hired by Texas A&M Athletics in the mid ’90s, Hart’s duties required overseeing practices and preparing routines to be performed at home basketball games in addition to Big 12 basketball tournaments. Outside of that, she had the freedom to do whatever else she felt was necessary to advance the team.

The aunt-and-niece duo—former head coach Jennifer (Hart) Hodge and current head coach Amy Liefer—shared a full-circle moment when the Aggie Dance Team's 2023 performance officially made them both national championship head coaches.

In just three years into her tenure, Liefer led the Aggie Dance Team to a national title and continued to do so for three consecutive years. “I don’t think people realize the number of hours these girls contribute to supporting Aggie Athletics and training to become national champions,” Liefer stated. From workouts before 8 a.m. classes to practices after a double-overtime basketball game, the work ethic of the Aggie Dance Team is a true testament to their commitment to supporting and representing Texas A&M.

Today, the team can be found performing at Reed Arena, selling programs and tickets at Ellis Field during Aggie Soccer games, dancing atop baseball dugouts and carrying flags onto Kyle Field during football season. The Aggie Dance Team prides itself on being a notable supporter of Texas A&M Athletics as well as an accomplished competitive team in the collegiate dance world. From humble beginnings to national titles and all the hardships and triumphs in between, the team continues to proudly represent Texas A&M as a distinct tradition. “When I joined as head coach, I made sure the girls knew their purpose as dancers at Texas A&M was to support the athletic teams and that competing was another opportunity to represent the university,” Hart concluded. “I’m happy to see that virtue still applies today.”