There were more than 800 Texas high schoolers crowded onto the turf at NRG Stadium on Sunday night (Jan. 5) as part of Lady Gaga's Super Bowl LI halftime extravaganza. Adobe High School sophomore Ally Bellini was one of 46 girls from the Longhorns drill team who'd been practicing for weeks for the big game and as a huge Gaga fan she was just excited to be near Mother Monster for those 13 minutes.
Then, to her utter shock and amazement, Gaga stepped down from the stage after performing her unity anthem "Born This Way" and made a beeline for Bellini, enveloping her in a big hug. "I had no idea that was going to happen," Bellini, 16, told Billboard on Monday morning (Jan. 6). "It was an amazing surprise to me. We knew she was going to go around and high five people but I never expected her to hug me. It was... amazing."
The Longhorns had been chosen to participate in the halftime show and they'd spent several hours a day rehearsing their choreography on the field in the weeks heading up to Sunday's thrilling game. Bellini said Gaga was there during some of the run-throughs, and she surprised the team at one of them last week by running in to say hello. "We were all star-struck," she says of the Gaga pop-in. "We were just screaming and excited."
Bellini, an avowed Little Monster, explains that she was just excited to be that close to the action. "I'm a huge fan of hers and when I found out we were doing this I cried for days," the Dobie Lariattes member says. Did she practice the hug with Gaga before Sunday night? "No! It was completely random!" Bellini swears, still sounding breathless about the whole experience. "My friends were so excited for me. I didn't know how to react at the time but they were all yelling and jumping on me and hugging me."
With her parents gathered with the rest of Bellini's family at her uncle's house for a viewing party, the high schooler said they all started screaming when they saw Ally get singled out for some special attention from Gaga. "I still can't really believe it," Bellini says.