Tabatha Fields, director of the “Redd Diamondz” of Pensacola and self-proclaimed “honorary Rattler,” is bringing a group of 32 girls to the Florida A&M University vs. Southern University game on Saturday. She says she wants to expose them to the “HBCU experience.”
“I want them to be able to witness the good bands, the fraternities and the camaraderie of it all,” Fields said. “I think it’ll be a great experience for them to see an HBCU college game.”
Fields’ ultimately hopes this trip will encourage the girls to go to college, preferably at an historically black college or university. She wants nothing more than to see her girls be great and succeed in all of their future endeavors. She said some of the girls have already toured FAMU and are considering applying.
The step team was founded in 2015 by Fields’ daughter, Arielle Fields, who was 15 years old at the time. The team was built on values such as commitment, community involvement, education, sisterhood and discipline. The team is composed of girls ages 11-17, and “Sparkle,” their team for younger girls is composed of girls age 4-10.
Today, the team is coached by Arielle Fields and Aisha Freeman, a FAMU alumna.
LaBrea Page, a transfer pre-physical therapy major at FAMU, still works closely with the Redd Diamondz. She serves as a choreographer and mentor to the girls, even while being over 100 miles away. She mentioned how video communication has become one of her most useful tools, and how she doesn’t feel like she misses a beat.
Page handled ticket purchases, and local information for the trip. She mentioned that many of her mentees were excited about the trip because of how much Freeman and her talk up the university.
“Once you experience any event at Florida A&M, it’s like no other,” Page said. “I hope they feel the same feelings after Saturday that I felt my first time coming.”
L’Ariel Wilson, a senior biology major at FAMU and a Pensacola native, is extremely happy to know the Redd Diamondz are visiting The Hill. She hopes the steppers will get a chance to meet some of the dancers at Florida A&M. She said that she’s always admired the team because of how highly her cousin, a graduated Diamond, spoke of it.
“She talked highly of the group even after she graduated, and to me, that says a lot,” Wilson said. “I know that they’re going to feel welcomed and loved at FAMU.”
Jazmin Rodgers, Wilson’s cousin and former Redd Diamond, mentioned how she enjoyed the sisterhood and the bond the group shares. She still supports the team and acknowledges the role Arielle Fields plays in their success.
A busload of Diamondz is planning to arrive Saturday afternoon, just in time for the game. If time permits, they plan to showcase their skills outside of the stadium, or on The Set.