For the many fans who are crazy about Roswell boys basketball, the first half is only a warmup to the show itself: halftime. The game is secondary to what happens exactly one minute after both teams have walked off the court and gone to their locker room.
Fans will notice an electric hush over the crowd, as little kids and supporters anticipate what is about to happen next. Little girls rush to the edge of the court to catch a better view. Proud parents quit talking to watch, and most fans stand in awe for what they are about to witness: The performance.
The performance may be a new routine, or it may be one of the state winning dances they have done before, but it is here where the love affair begins: where the team gets its pick-me up and the fans receive love in return. Fans have come to see the state champion dance team, Charlie’s Angels.
Right before they go on to perform, the girls stand outside the hallway, nothing is chaotic outside the gym doors where 22 girls are standing and waiting to make their entrance. Everything is timed and choreographed to their steps entering the gym, their smiles, moves, all the way down to their exit.
It is hard to tell one girl from the other just by looking at them. All the girls on the team have their hair parted on the left side and brushed back flat, with the excess hair pulled into a ponytail. Each girl has the right amount of eyeliner; makeup and lipstick applied, and all are dressed in multi-colored sequin dance outfits and brown dance shoes, creating the RHS version of the Rockettes.
Roswell’s PA announcer introduces the Angels to the crowd, he says, “Ladies and gentlemen, your defending state champion dance team: Charlie’s Angels,” with that the crowd goes ballistic. As they are being introduced, the Angels march in a single-file line with their right arm extended draped across the shoulder to the girl in front of them looking straight ahead until they get to center court where they stand silently.
Suddenly, as in a dance flash mob, the girls break into their dance routine to Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Starting Something” routine, and spell bound the audience for the four minutes they are on the court.
As the Angels dance, there is one person more tuned in to what is happening, more than anyone else in the gym, the creator of Charlie’s Angels: Kim Castro. As the Angels dance, Castro is on the opposite side of the court with her knees moving, her hands motioning for the girls to stop or start, making facial gestures, smiling broadly with the team as if she were out there dancing with them.
Castro is wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans with black tennis shoes. For now, her whole focus is on her dance team. As the team dances, Castro has a Rosary wrapped around her hand through her hair pulled back in a bun with her bangs covering her forehead.
When the song is over, she raises her hands to allow the team to take a bow, and then she watches them march off the court back to the smaller gym to change clothes and practice a new routine, or work on mistakes from their previous performance. In the little gym, the atmosphere is much looser as Castro gives her team compliments.
Castro is starting her 18th year as dance team coach, the first year her team competed in state was in 2000. Her daughter, Desiree Castro, was a cheerleader, but wanted to dance. The only problem was there wasn’t a dance team at RHS, there had been one in the early ‘80s. Kim Castro went before the school board at the time.
“I don’t think anybody at the time thought it would become what it is today,” she said. “We competed our first year and got third in the state, which is really good for a first-year team.”
Castro, a 1984 graduate of RHS, was a cheerleader, but there wasn’t a dance team when she was in school. Her daughter wanted to dance for the high school, and Kim thought why not try to start a team.
“I always wanted there to be a dance team at our school,” Kim Castro said. “The superintendent at the time gave us the opportunity to do it. Here we are 18 years later and 11 state championships with one national championship in 2016.”
There’s no set number of girls who can be on the team. Castro remembers that she had 25 girls on her first team and has won the state title with as few as 13 girls. Normally, the Angels will hold tryouts in May, with the season starting almost immediately with cheer being a full-year sport. The schedule is grueling with state competition in March, with a vacation for two months.
“It varies from the number of girls we have,” Castro said. “I don’t set a number of how many can be on the team. If the kids have the ability to do it, or I think I can develop them, then I give them a shot at it.”
Once selected to be on the team, that year’s girls are committed to excellence and achieving. Castro is proud of the fact that her girls show up on time, there is no whining, or missed practices. She calls the training brutal, with a warmup and doing all the skills in two and a half hours.
“We have skills this year that are neat that we haven’t done in the past,” Castro said. “We want to win state by a bigger margin this year. We’ve won six consecutive state titles, and once you win that much, teams are creeping up on you a bit. I think St. Pius X is our biggest competition.”
Goddard has a dance team, but normally, the teams they will face will be from the north. Castro will leave no stone unturned when it comes to beating the competition and coming up with new routines. She and some of her girls will come up with new routines, and they have at times hired choreographers to show them new things. It can take the Angels months to learn one routine for state, and they are required to do two at state.
“I think what has made our dancers better,” Casto said, “is we put them out on the floor. Our goal also is to beat the 6A teams also. We are the top-scoring team in any class right now.”
Castor is hesitant to name a special team, but did mention the year she won state with 13 girls. For some reason, the team started with 20 girls and by the time tournament came around, they were down to 13.
“The things that had happened that year and to overcome and win with 13 girls in 2009 were amazing,” Castro said. “That was a special year. Our first year (2005) was obviously the most memorable, ever. We just kept fighting; we had been fighting every year, and we kept coming up short, one year we got second, another year third, and nationals because we didn’t think we could ever do it.”
Castor wishes that whoever is in charge of hanging banners would put up the banner from their national tournament victory in 2016. Castro is in the middle of getting ready for state competition in January. She is so meticulous that she will watch the girls dance video 22 times, once for each girl, and make notes on a notecard about what each of them did wrong and how to correct it.
“I try to be able to tell if a girl’s feet are out of position,” Castro said. “I always tell the kids there’s a chance at perfection, but there’s excellence, and that’s what we are after.”
Castro let the RDR in on how she came up with the name Charlie’s Angels. She said there was a group of teachers who started a year before she did, and they had named the group Charlie’s Angels after Charlie Coyote, who was Roswell’s mascot.
“When I came on, we didn’t have a name, and I thought, oh just keep the name,” Castro said. “When we started getting kind of popular and people started knowing who were, we couldn’t change the name.”
Because of the support from the Roswell community, Charlie’s Angels fundraisers have allowed them to be self-supporting in raising money for their trips.