Ascension dancers celebrate 50 years of LSU Golden Girls

Michael Tortorich
Sisters Sally Diez, left, and Sarah Spiers, right, of Ascension Parish perform during the 50th anniversary celebration of the danceline team at halftime of the LSU-Tulane game in Tiger Stadium Saturday night. The Golden Girl at forefront is unidentified.

BATON ROUGE – Ascension Parish was well-represented Saturday night when former Golden Girls performed at halftime of LSU’s game against Tulane in Tiger Stadium.

The veteran dancers had a chance to relive their days on the squad by marking the 50th anniversary of the danceline.

Some 200 current and former Golden Girls, including a many who hail from Ascension Parish, took to the field once again. About 800 women in all have been members of the team.

Former Golden Girls from the area include Loren and Jackie Dixon, Sally Diez, Sarah Spiers, Nicole Marchand, Tricia Gomez, Dana Williams, Meg Songy, Pam Matassa, Jennifer Blanchard, Ragan Gainey, Julie Aldridge and Amanda Chapman.

They performed the traditional “Hey Fighting Tigers” routine that squads have performed for years.

“Now, when I see the band or the Golden Girls, tears fill my eyes because it’s such a privilege to be selected,” said Marchand, who first earned a spot on the squad in 1992. “I hold these memories very close to my heart. The whole band becomes your family and you never forget that.”

Former Golden Girl Tari Smith went on to teach at St. Amant High School, among many other places, and opened her own thriving dance studio. Her first studio was in Gonzales.

She currently operates Tari’s School of Dance, located on Perkins Road in Baton Rouge. Some 50 of her students have become Golden Girls.

The squad dates back to 1959, when they were known as the Ballet Corps. They changed their name to the Golden Girls in 1965.

The danceline is chosen every spring through a special audition.

The Golden Girls must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA, and practice with the band four day a week and on their own as needed.

The Golden Girls are one of the feature units of the LSU Tiger Band and perform at all home football games and selected campus events and away games with the full band.

Former Ascension Parish Golden Girls Tricia Gomez and Nicole Marchand pose during halftime of the LSU-Tulane game.