Former Stingerette head captain and 2016 graduate of Stephenville High School, Shelby Sult, will get a once in a lifetime experience Friday when she performs with the Texas State University Strutters for the presidential inauguration parade in Washington, D.C.

“I am beside myself with excitement! I have never been to D.C. before, and I think that to go during an inauguration and to be able to perform at the inauguration will be a legendary experience I’ll remember forever,” Shelby said.

Shelby is a freshman at Texas State and was selected to be part of the team after auditioning last May.

“I think this is a really great opportunity for them and I think they’re ready to show the world what they’ve got,” said Shelby’s mother, Kelly Sult. “I’m excited this is something so big and they’re looking at is as a way to be ambassadors at the university.”

While in D.C. the Strutters will also perform in two galas, at the Ronald Reagan Building and the WWII Memorial.

“This will be the greatest performance opportunity of my life, as it is for many of us, and it will look great on a dance resume,” Shelby said. “This experience will open up all kinds of future conversations and I will have long lasting memories and stories that I will be able to share for the rest of my life.”

Though many have shown their support on the Strutters’ Facebook page, there has been controversy surrounding the performance at campus protests following Trump’s election.

“Certain students and alumni are criticizing the Strutters’ announcement before Christmas that its dancers will perform after Trump is sworn in as the nation’s 45th president,” states a recent article written by the Houston Chronicle. “They argue that the inaugural performance will be in poor taste after the election-related threats and protests on the San Marcos campus.”

However, as a mother of a Strutter, Kelly took some time to explain what some may not realize.

“They knew they were going to be performing in some way at the presidential inauguration before the candidates were even selected. The director applied to be in the parade and they were chosen before election day even took place,” Kelly said. “The money was already paid, and to be there the girls had to pay for it themselves, so that’s a lot of lost money. This isn’t a political statement, it’s a nationwide performance and they’re ready to show what they can do.”

Shelby is focused on the positives of the performance saying it had been in the works for more than a year.

“Strutters are an apolitical organization so it was never a matter of politics,” she said. “We are proud to represent Texas State on a national level and we have received so much love and support regarding our trip.”

During her years at Stephenville High School Shelby was not only the head captain for the Stingerettes but also received the Girl Scouts Gold Award (highest honor) and was accomplished in the arts — qualifying for state in theatrical design and even having her work on display at an exhibit for the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council.

“It’s very rewarding of course to see a student use the passion and talent for something that you helped foster as their teacher to excel at that next level,” said Stingerettes Drill Team Director Kimberly Kelsey. “This is definitely an event Shelby will talk about being a part of when she reflects back on life. I know I speak for current and former Stings when I say she has made us all proud and we wish her the best of luck.”