Always and forever… the graphic of Stacy and the individual majorettes displays while girls perform the routine. Submitted photo.
Always and forever… the graphic of Stacy and the individual majorettes displays while girls perform the routine. Submitted photo.

Majorettes honor late coach at football game

October 27, 2022

Her Memory Lives On: Stacy Houston Forbess

by Ellery Scott, editor-in-chief

FAIRHOPE, Ala.- As the one year anniversary of beloved baton coach Stacy Houston Forbess’s passing came, her former majorettes dedicated a routine in her honor at the last 2022 regular season football game.

A little over a year ago, I was getting home from my first day of junior year and got some of the worst news possible. My long-time baton coach Stacy Houston Forbess had passed away from complications of Covid-19.

Stacy had been battling with issues related to Covid for months at that point, but I, along with everyone else who knew her, thought that she would be able to pull through. Unfortunately, on August 11, she lost her battle.

Love for their sponsor… senior majorettes Mary Frances Brady, Ellery Scott, Sydnee Cantley and Molly Hagood pose with Jill Johnson at the senior night game. Johnson has sponsored the twirlers for eight years. Submitted photo.

It took time for me to process what happened, and I struggled with finding a way to express my grief. Naturally, I turned to one of the things I love most: writing.

I wrote a memorial article a few days after Stacy passed as a way to express all that I was feeling as well as honor everything she had done, not only for me but also for all the many people whose lives she touched.

As the one-year anniversary passed, my fellow Fairhope High School Majorettes and I wanted to find something to show her light to the people who never had the pleasure of knowing and loving her.

We decided to surprise our parents and the crowd by performing one of the last routines we learned with Forbess, a fire baton routine to the song “Burning Down the House.”

We held secret practices that consisted of relearning the old routine and training two student assistants to help us with the fire batons on the football field.

Getting together and working on the routine was bittersweet and provided healing to all of us. Doing Forbess’s choreography one last time made it feel like she was still physically here, telling us to get higher up on relev√© and to be careful with the flames.

Everyone always said she was with us in spirit, but I never fully grasped what that meant until I performed this routine.

I could feel Stacy’s contagious energy moving through all of us as we ran the routine again and again until it was as close to perfect as possible.

The week of the game flew by, and Friday at school was like a blur. After the school day had ended, I went home to get ready for the game.

It hit me that I was doing so many things for the last time- putting on my white boots to walk the field, brushing through my hair to put in the hairpiece that never lost its sparkle and swiping on our signature red lipstick.

As I walked through the gates of W.C. Majors, a wave of emotions hit me. I looked to my left to see our senior banners hanging there, always smiling back at us. Straight ahead I saw the players warming up for the game. To the right I watched and listened to the band running through their music, making sure every note was perfect.

Senior callouts carried on seamlessly before the game – each senior athlete and band member was recognized for all of the hard work put in over the years.

A bittersweet moment… after performing the routine, all the majorettes share a hug on the sidelines. Submitted photo.

As soon as all the majorettes were called out, we hurried off the field and prepared our batons for the routine ahead. As our parents headed back into the stands, they looked at us with curious faces, wondering what we had planned.

I felt my heart beating in my chest as we took the field, wondering if the routine would go as planned. I didn’t have much time to work up any nerves because 3, 2, 1… the music started to blare. As I took one last look over the crowd, my eyes wandered to the jumbotron where Stacy’s beaming face shone down on us.

At that moment, I knew she was there, silently telling us to take one last deep breath before starting the routine.

With the first beat of the song, our batons flew into the air. We spun and kicked galore while never missing a moment of the music.

We performed Stacy’s routine flawlessly and by the end, we all had tears in our eyes. Coming off the field was exhilarating, and I felt all kinds of emotions. When I looked up at all our parents, they had the all-too-familiar glimmer in their eyes from watching us do what we love.¬† Performing this routine was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, and I’m incredibly thankful for this experience and all the rest that I’ve been provided, thanks to twirling.

Stacy used to tell us to smile big and to twirl bigger before we would go out to perform, and I truly believe that we made her proud. Even though she isn’t physically here with us, we’re still her girls, always and forever.

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