The History of America's FIRST National Dance Competition
The idea for a national drill team (dance team) competition was Dr. Kay Teer Crawford’s thesis project while studying at the University of Southern California for her Master’s Degree in Physical Education. The first “Miss Drill Team U.S.A.®” national dance competition was held in 1968 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California. Teams from 56 high schools and colleges from across the United States participated in the inaugural event. At that time, there were only 3 team performance categories that were adjudicated at the national competition: Songleading (Pom), Baton Twirling (Majorette), and Flag Twirling. Team group performances were adjudicated in the areas of routine choreography, technical execution, and showmanship.
The highlight of the event was the national soloist dance category. Solo title contestants were adjudicated in the same areas for their dance routine (with the first 10 seconds of the solo routine required to demonstrate military dance-drill stylized choreography). The soloist competition was structured much like a beauty pageant, and contestants were additionally required to perform a modeling presentation and deliver a speech on the subject of drill team.
The inaugural U.S. national dance solo title winner to be crowned “Miss Drill Team U.S.A.” at the 1968 competition was Carolyn Buford from John F. Kennedy High School in Cyprus, CA. Awards for runner-up winners were presented as follows:
- Miss Drill Team USA: Carolyn Buford
John F. Kennedy High School
- 1st Runner-Up: Wendy Beesley
Mira Costa High School
- 2nd Runner-Up: Vicki Jessop
Glendora High School
- 3rd Runner-Up: Barbara Lopes
St. Joseph High School
- 4th Runner-Up: Sue Wells
Over 30 U.S. States have sent delegations of teams and soloists to the national dance competition since its inception.
The original 1968 Miss Drill Team USA competition was hosted by Jim Lange (The Dating Game) and Terry Becker (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea). The following celebrities made public appearances during the dance competition to participate as a judge and/or crown the national dance solo winner during the awards show...
Weird Al Yankovich
The Kay-T Trophy
Can you believe it?! The original trophies awarded to 1st place dance solos and dance/drill teams at the Miss Drill Team USA national competition were made by the same manufacturer as the Academy Awards "OSCAR".
Known as the "KAY-T", these trophies featured an iconic dance kick in the silhouette of Dr. Kay Crawford's own daughter, Jan Crawford (who was the winner of the dance solo category in 1970).
Classic Hollywood Glamour
The inaugural Miss Drill Team USA competition was held on February 22, 1968 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica Beach, California. The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was also the same site where the Academy Awards were held.
Eventually, the national competition outgrew this venue... A variety of high school and college sites around Los Angeles County served as competition venues for different categories over the course of an entire weekend. The Miss Drill Team USA solo title finals and team exhibition performances were held at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena for many years.
After outgrowing that venue, Miss Drill Team USA was also held at the Long Beach Sports Arena. In recent years the competition has been held in Orange County and San Diego County (California).