EARLY — Early High School teacher Kim Sandford jokingly told Leigha Price that since she’s the wife of Early athletic director and head football coach Daniel Price, it’s a requirement for Leigha to serve as director of the Early Belles dance team.
Sandford recently stepped down as the Belle’s director. Sandford’s husband, Blake, is the former athletic director and head football coach at Early.
Leigha Price, who works as the school secretary at Early Elementary School, agreed to become the Belle’s co-director along with fellow co-director Chandler Robnett, an Early Elementary School teacher.
"I told her I’ll do it and I can’t do it alone," Price recalled. "So I recruited Chandler to help me."
Price said she agreed to become the Belles co-director because "teens don't realize how quickly their high school years fly by, and when they're living them, they can feel like they take forever.
"I wanted to be apart of creating a place these ladies can feel safe and grow their self confidence in dance, and as young ladies."
Price and Robnett are new to the world of the dance team, but they do have experience on a public stage.
At Sweetwater High School, Price was a member of the Pop Sensations, the school’s show choir. "Choir was huge there," Price said. "Choir was my group."
Robnett was a cheerleader at Brownwood High School, where she graduated in 2014.
Leigha and Daniel Price are starting their fourth year in the Early ISD. They moved here from Frisco, and Daniel Price was an assistant football coach and head boys basketball coach at Early High School before being named athletic director and head football coach.
"I did tell Leigha that since she’s the AD’s wife, she was required to take over as the Belle’s director," Sandford jokingly recalled. "And she’s raising a future Belle.
"When Blake was hiring Daniel (as an assistant coach), the family came to look around at school. When little Quinlyn walked into my room — she was 4 years old, I think — she saw pics of the Belles and she told Leigha, ‘look mommy, it’s the Belles!’"
Sandford said Leigha Price told her Quinlyn loves dance teams — so her parents had to make sure Early has a dance team Quinlyn would be OK with leaving Frisco.
Price confirmed that she does indeed have a future Belle.
"If you ask her, she’s already one of them," Price said. "Being a coach’s kid, she’s gone to football games since she was 2 weeks old.The drill team was always her favorite part of the night, and seeing her daddy on the sideline.
"She fell in love with the Belles and Miss Belle Kim, as she called her that day in her classroom. The pictures of those pretty girls and all of the shiny uniforms in her room were enamoring. Kim has allowed us to travel with the team before, and each year Quinlyn has had a tough time picking just one big Belle. She loves them all.
This year’s Belles team is no different, Price said.
"She loves them all and they are great with her," Price said. "She’s run the music for them, moved mirrors and even reminded them, sometimes pretty bossy like, of what shirt to wear. She loves to put on makeup and their field skirt and mimic their routines."
Quinlyn will be 7 in September. She has two older brothers — Jaxyn, 14, and Rohyn, 12,
Robnett, who teaches fourth grade reading at Early Elementary, graduated from Texas State University with a marketing degree.
"I really loved the sales portion of it, working with people," Robnett said. "I taught swim lessons from my senior high school on, and that’s kind of what drew me to wanting to work with kids. Once I graduated with my marketing degree I went back to school and got my certification to teach."
The 16-member Belles have just completed their first week of a two-week boot camp — their equivalent of two-a-days. This year’s Belles consist of eight veterans and nine newcomers, including eight freshmen.
Senior Morgan Lesley is the Belles captain. Olivia Kuykendall first lieutenant, and Carlee Coffman is junior lieutenant.
"I think it’s a great opportunity," Robnett said. "I work with little ones at school. It was a fun opportunity to work with older girls and be able to help them in different ways. It’s fun to see them all working together as a team.
"We’re the getting information on how it’s been done and then we’re trying to fill that in with how the school year possibly could go."