Voices from past and present share stories of the bonds and traditions of Mizzou’s Golden Girls

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COLUMBIA, Mo. — If you’ve been to a Missouri Tigers football game, there’s no doubt you’ve seen the Golden Girls.

The school’s dance team takes over the sideline with lots of sequins and super high kicks, but it hasn’t always been that way.

The University of Missouri is a school built on traditions. From Tiger Prowl to Tap Day to football games and the Golden Girls. But every tradition had to get its start somewhere.

“Charles Emmons was the band director, and somebody tried out in a silver sequin long-sleeved leotard, and he liked them so he found out where she got it and got gold ones. And in 1965 the girls donned a gold sequin uniform, and someone in the media picked up on it and called them the ‘Golden Girls,'” Patty Kespohl told FOX4.

Kespohl knows the history because she is the history. She was a featured twirler with the marching band’s twirling line when the gold sequins were introduced. The changes didn’t stop there.

“He kept watching the girls and he felt like there were too many batons on the ground, and they were dropping them and stuff, and he said, ‘You know Patty, you take care of the twirling part and let`s have the other girls dance,'” she recounted.

She graduated in 1968 and became the squad’s first coach. More than 50 years later, the squad named just its third coach this summer.

“I grew up in Columbia. I have loved the Golden Girls. I was a Golden Girl myself and bleed black and gold, so when the opportunity arised to step in I was very happy to do so,” Cayla Timberlake said.

She and her 32 dancers practice at least four times a week, splitting time between the Tiger Performance Complex and the football field. Timberlake believes the bond the girls have is unlike any other.

“This in particular, the amount of time that the girls spend with each other, they are going to be bridesmaids at each other`s weddings,” she said.

“They are definitely my bridesmaids. I have friendships that will last a lifetime,” Taylor Holbrook said.

Holbrook is a senior on the squad, and originally from Raymore-Peculiar. She’s thrilled to be a Golden Girl.

“Having the opportunity to be an ambassador for this university and wear this special uniform that has so much legacy and so many years behind it is an opportunity that`s one of a kind,” she said.

And she’s thrilled to follow in the footsteps of the Golden Girls who came before her.

“I have amazing women in front of me. Years and years and years and years of legacy. It`s a wonderful pressure to have,” she said.

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