Camarillo performs balancing act as Panther Pride captain, LHS student

First Hispanic captain: ‘I know I have to do it all and make it work’

Alexis Kirksey, Panther Growls staff member

Lily Camarillo, front and center, said she has to manage her time well to do all the things required of her as captain of the Panther Pride drill team. (Photo by MARIA MEJIA/Lufkin High School Panther Growls)

Lily Camarillo started dancing when she was 3. She soon started dreaming of becoming the captain of Lufkin High School’s Panther Pride drill team.

Now she’s 17 and the Panther Pride’s first Hispanic captain.

Lily Camarillo dances with the other Panther Pride officers during the “Meet the Panthers” pep rally on Aug. 30 in Abe Martin Stadium. (Photo by MARIA MEJIA/Lufkin High School Panther Growls)

“This is an honor and one of the biggest achievements I have ever accomplished,” Camarillo said. “I feel as if I represent the Hispanics not just on my team, but the student body and future Hispanics who want to dance. It’s amazing. It was a lot of work to get to that spot.”

To earn that spot, the captain has to meet certain requirements, according to Panther Pride Director Johnna Walker.

“An officer has to meet a merit demerit requirement in which she cannot receive more than 20 demerits all year, and she had to earn at least 100 merits in various categories,” Walker said. “There’s community service, school involvement and team involvement, like reading a motivational quote to your team.”

Once an officer passes the merit demerit requirement, she goes through a judging process.

“The captain’s not just chosen by one person. She has judges,” Walker said. “The captain is chosen based on teaching ability. The judges score their dancing and interview skills.”

Judges score the applicants’ dancing and interview skills because the captain is the head dancer of the team and has a lot of responsibilities, including being in charge of some choreography and being liaison to her team and the directors.

Aside from being respected, being the captain of the drill team means dancing year-round.

“We’re always dancing and performing,” Camarillo said. “We perform at football and basketball games. This year we’re going to competition, so this year is going to be a busy year for us. It’s a lot of work.”

The bit of work that comes with being captain means dealing with the duties associated with Panther Pride.

“I break down a routine into parts,” Camarillo said. “It’s a little bit of work. Sometimes the girls might not listen to what I’m saying, but it’s good knowing people look up to me.”

She balances the responsibilities of being the captain of Panther Pride and a student by managing her time.

“I know I have to do it all and make it work,” Camarillo said. “I try to do as much work as I can in class and on the weekends. I stay up late doing homework.”

She does it all, including dancing at a local dance studio and participating in clubs such as Diamond Dolls, Ignite, National Honor Society and Student Council.

“I like getting involved with school, clubs and whatever they have to offer,” Camarillo said. “The experience is fun and rewarding.”

Panther Pride Capt. Lily Camarillo dances with the rest of the Lufkin High School drill team in the Lobo Stadium stands Friday night during the Pack’s first 2018 football game. (Photo by ALYSEN NGUYEN/Lufkin High School Fang Yearbook)