‘Bigs and littles’ have brought the Belles closer together but have also kept them in touch with their past.
“The best moment was when we got our ‘bigs,'” freshman Belle Emma Schaaf said. “It made us more excited about the year and what’s to come.”
When Director Ruth Flynn took over the Belles in 1984, she started a tradition that has continued ever since.
Every year the sophomore Belles each choose a freshman Belle to take under their wing and show them what it takes to be an Apache Belle.
This tradition, affectionately called ‘bigs and littles,’ was implemented to help with bonding.
“I started it so that there would be bonding between the two classes,” Flynn said. “The next year it restarts as the ‘littles’ become the ‘bigs.'”
The tradition doesn’t end when a Belle graduates from TJC.
“The Belles are just like a family,” sophomore Belle Danielle Frank said. They have a lineage just like a family tree, which connects each class of Belles since 1984 to the present.
“They keep track of their lineage from year to year,” Flynn said. “[They] have family pictures made involving bigs and littles of multiple years.”
When Belle Camp kicked off Aug. 10, the freshmen young ladies started their journey to becoming Apache Belles.
During the camp, the freshmen learned what it takes to be a Belle. What they didn’t know was that the sophomore girls were measuring them up: the sophomores were getting to know them and trying to figure out which freshmen they wanted as their ‘little.’
The sophomores chose which freshman they take under their wing.
“We get to pick who we want,” said sophomore Belle Lisa Hall. “It’s like your little sister who you get to take care of.”
Each lineage of the Belle family passes down gifts from ‘bigs’ to ‘littles’. There are gifts that are given that have a general meaning and some that have a more tradition laced history.
Earlier this school year Frank gave her ‘little,’ freshman Belle Natalie Vance, a tack board because she was given one by her ‘big’ last year.
Then there are some that are traditional and are passed down in a family. Those gifts carry extra meaning with them.
“You know that somebody before you got that exact same gift,” Hall said. “It’s what is exciting about it.”
‘Bigs and littles’ also helps to build bonds between the Belles. Sophomore Courtney Boyd said that they have what is called “big and little night.” They go out to dinner and watch movies together.
This helps to bring the two different classes together. It also helps incoming freshman to get to know each other and build friendships based on the friendships between their ‘bigs.’