Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Ole Miss Musings: Rebelette Tradition Continues To Excel


Recently, we crossed paths with Grace Caroline Hazzlerigg, a fourth grader from Madison, Mississippi, who was in Oxford to perform at the halftime of an Ole Miss basketball game. We had the pleasure to visit with Grace Caroline and later speak with Carmen Keys, her role model, via email.
HottyToddy.com: Grace Caroline, thanks for meeting with us. Please share with our readers when your participation with the Junior Rebelettes began.
Grace Caroline: In the fall of 2016, I began performing with the Junior Rebelettes.
HottyToddy.com: How did this all begin?
Grace Caroline: My family and I were attending a football game where we saw an ad on the jumbo screen. I then responded positively to
this opportunity.
HottyToddy.com: Another indication that advertising pays! What happened next?
Grace Caroline: We had a first practice (about 70-80 girls) in Oxford. At today’s performance, there were about 40 to 50 of us participating.
HottyToddy.com: Are any of your classmates involved in the program?
Grace Caroline: About five.
HottyToddy.com: When is your next performance scheduled?
Grace Caroline: Next fall during football season. We were scheduled for only one basketball game.
HottyToddy.com: What does a typical performance consist of?
Grace Caroline: We have approximately a 10-minute routine that includes two cheers and one dance.
HottyToddy.com: What do you enjoy most about being a Junior Rebelette?
Grace Caroline: Being on the jumbo tron and all the dance moves.
HottyToddy.com: Will this experience inspire you to attend Ole Miss?
Grace Caroline: I like Ole Miss.

Pictured left to right: Grace Caroline Hazzlerigg, Maggie Mangum, Weatherly Wilson, Bella Bentley, Sela McCalop and Carly Venable

HottyToddy.com: We understand you have a role model whom you met through your church who also was a Rebelette.
Grace Caroline: Carmen Keys. She was a co-captain with the Rebelettes at Ole Miss and later performed with the Memphis Grizzlies. She has been an inspiration to me.
HottyToddy.com: Before we talk with Carmen, when did your passion begin for gymnastics and dance?
Grace Caroline: Ballet classes began at age 3, and I’m strictly into gymnastics now, currently working on a back handspring.
HottyToddy.com: Carmen, please tell our readers a little about your background.
Carmen Keys: I was born and raised in Jackson and spent most of my childhood dancing and performing. I enrolled at Ole Miss in 1999 and joined the Junior Varsity Rebelettes dance team. I learned so much during my freshman year as a JV Rebelette. I became a member of the Varsity squad in 2000 and had an incredible three years cheering on my Rebels!
HottyToddy.com: You were at Ole Miss at a very exciting time.
Carmen Keys: Eli was our quarterback as I became an Ole Miss Rebelette in the spring of 2000. The many friendships I made, being a part of the band and, most importantly, seeing the smiles on the little girls’ faces as they cheered with us on stage during Grove pep rallies were all very special.
HottyToddy.com: However, your performing did not stop following graduation.
Carmen Keys: That’s correct. In 2005, I continued my dance career with the NBA team, the Memphis Grizzlies. Today, I live in Jackson where, in my spare time, I choreograph for various school dance teams and also give private dance lessons. And on a personal note, I have just gotten engaged to an MSU Bulldog and plan to marry this summer and following, we will make our home in Madison.
HottyToddy.com: Congratulations! (Madison is a wonderful city as Rosie and I called it home for 17 years.) Speaking of Mississippi State, for an Ole Miss Rebel, you had quite another famous connection to Starkville.
Carmen Keys: My dad, Richard Keys, is in the Hall of Fame at MSU because of his great football career. He passed away in 2011, but left a tremendous legacy! Through the years, people have given me such a hard time for going to Ole Miss with a dad who was such an outstanding player for Mississippi State.


Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.
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