top of page

History of IDTA

Before Illinois had a formal organization for dance/drill teams and coaches, there were some clinics and contests that were being hosted throughout the state. These functions were usually sponsored by outside organizations. In 1977 after hosting 5 annual contests, Pat Lester organized a group of drill team directors to formulate and propose a state contest series for drill/pom teams to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). The proposal committee believed that Illinois needed to unify the contests in the state.  Pat Lester, Steve Oracko, and Kathy Swan presented the proposal to the IHSA in the spring of 1977.  The answer from the IHSA was positive, but no action was taken. Two years later, Pat Lester and a new committee presented a second proposal in the spring of 1979 to the IHSA after a state-wide survey showed there was a strong support for a state contest series. This proposal was rejected by the IHSA; however, the board gave the committee “its blessing” to begin an organization to serve the coaches and teams of Illinois. Thus, the Illinois Drill Team Association was organized to create an association which could encourage interest in poms, dance, drill, and tall flag activities in Illinois schools.


The organizational structure was designed, competition rules were formulated, and membership was offered. The founding officers were Kathy Swan, president; Pat Leaf, contest director; and Pat Lester, judging coordinator. The first state contest was held at Oak Park-River Forest High School on March 15, 1980.

Since those first years, IDTA has grown in many ways. The organization has a charter with the State of Illinois and is a legal non-profit organization. The executive board includes representatives from 12 regions across the state, 6 officers, and 5 board of director members. The association has expanded the programs to include special events such as Start the Beat (a competition for soloists, duets, trios and small groups), Jump Start (a summer camp program for teams), Rising Star Awards, Student Academic Scholarships, and recognition of our Scholar Athletes. All programs are open to members of dance and flag teams.

Our membership includes approximately 140 dance and flag teams representing Junior High, Junior Varsity and Varsity programs from over 115 schools. Total student participation in IDTA activities is well over 1600 members. IDTA is still expanding its programs and will continue to grow.

bottom of page