Field of dreams: Hartselle native co-captain of the University of Alabama Crimsonettes
By Catherine Godbey
For the Enquirer
As the “Yea, Alabama” fight song fills Bryant Denny Stadium and the Crimson Tide football team runs out onto the field to kick off the season on Saturday, Chloe Holladay, clad in sequins and white boots and twirling a baton, will fulfill her dream.
“When you look around and you see Bryant Denny Stadium full of fans and you look down and your feet are on the field, it’s overwhelming. It’s like wow, what a blessing. It is such a privilege,” the 21-year-old Hartselle native said.
Named a co-captain for the season, Holladay, a senior, began dreaming of becoming a Crimsonette when, at 6 years old, she attended an Alabama football game.
“The first time I saw the Crimsonettes, I was pretty small. When I saw the sequins and the big hair, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ That’s what I wanted to be,” Holladay said. “I never lost sight of that goal.”
Holladay began working toward that dream after a baton instructor performed a demonstration at her elementary school.
“I just really loved it and knew it was something I wanted to try,” Holladay said.
Over the years, while taking lessons at Kim’s Star Twirlers in Hartselle under Kim Robertson and her daughter Paige Robertson Parker, both former Crimsonettes, Holladay never lost sight of her dream.
“With Paige and Ms. Kim both being Crimsonettes, I was being brought up in that atmosphere. They knew what I wanted and pushed me to achieve that. I dedicated myself to become a Crimsonette,” Holladay said.
“Choe is very goal-oriented, so when she decides she wants something, she goes 100% all in. Her work ethic really sets her apart,” Parker said.
While in middle school, she traveled all over the Southeast on the weekends performing at competitions.
In high school, she performed with the Hartselle High marching band as a majorette and served as captain of the squad. During her senior year, 2020, the year COVID hit, Holladay tried out for the Crimsonettes.
“I tried out virtually. I sent videos that Paige taped on her phone on a Saturday and then I just waited,” Holladay said.
Parker described the auditions as extremely competitive.
“They’re looking for ambassadors with not only advanced twirling skills, but dance technique as well. Chloe has a strong performance quality. She’s always been super fun and engaging to watch with her facials and power,” Parker said.
The week after Holladay submitted her audition, she checked her email multiple times a day — “It was probably every two seconds,” she said — hoping to see a message from the Crimsonettes.
“That Friday, I was sick of checking my email, so I decided not to check it anymore. Paige called me and asked if I had checked my email. She told me I should,” Holladay said. “When I found out I had made it, I was alone at home just screaming. I called my mom and she left work to come be with me. That night, a ton of people did a drive-by celebration for me. They had posters and were playing music. It was really cool.”
Parker remembers that day as well.
“There’s no feeling like helping someone make their lifelong dreams come true. It is beyond rewarding and emotional,” Parker said.
Because of COVID, the University of Alabama Million Dollar Band was unable to perform on the field Holladay’s freshman season.
“The first time I was able to perform my sophomore year, it was such a thank you God moment. I worked really hard to be there. Even today, it is so amazing,” Holladay said. “During the really hard practices, all I have to do is look at my feet. Four years ago, I would’ve done anything to be on the field.”
Work on this year’s halftime shows began with a two-week band camp before school started in August. The members put in 10 hours of practice each day, including Sunday. With classes now in session, the band practices from 3:30-5:30 p.m. daily.
“This is just the start. We do several different halftimes during the season. As soon as we nail one halftime down, we are onto practicing another. During midseason, we will be practicing two halftimes at once,” Holladay said. “It’s very fast paced, but that’s what makes us who we are. We want to put out new and different experiences for the fans.”
As co-captain, Holladay’s responsibilities include creating choreography and scheduling events.
“It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s a privilege to be in this position and to lead such a prestigious team and inspire other little girls like the Crimsonettes inspired me,” Holladay said. “When little girls come up to me, I want to give them a big hug and tell them dreams do come true. Mine did.”
Holladay, who is in the third semester of a five-semester nursing program, will be eligible to perform with the Crimsonettes next season.
“Although I could be a Crimsonette next season, I’m not sure what next year will bring. I might want to try out for an NFL cheerleading team or begin my career. We will see where the Lord takes me,” Holladay said.
Holladay opted to pursue nursing after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease her senior year in high school.
“I was in the hospital for a week. I was in the pediatric unit and the way the nurses invested in me and cared for me, I knew I wanted to do that for someone else,” Holladay said.
Along with Holladay, freshman Katie Chittam, a Priceville High graduate, will perform with the Crimsonettes. At Auburn University, majorettes representing north Alabama include freshman Faith Burgess, a Priceville High graduate, and sophomore Avery Fox, an Austin High graduate.