College Dance Team Central

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Minnesota Dance Team Adds to Dynasty


If three is a charm, then four must be something special.

The University of Minnesota Golden Gopher dance team earned elite recognition recently, as the team won its fourth consecutive national title at the 2006 College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championships on Jan. 13-15 at the Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla. The Gophers became the first dance team to win four straight national titles in the past decade. The dance team also finished second in the hip-hop competition.

“We left a lasting impression of Minnesota at this year’s competition,” senior co-captain Casey Horton said. “We had some very high expectations and goals at the beginning of the season and knew the challenges that were before us. The dance team’s routine was completely different in style and expression than we had performed the past three years.”

This year’s performance was different in that it was performed to instrumental music entitled “God’s Breath.” Horton, along with the team’s other senior co-captain Tara Peckskamp, embraced the new routine and style and challenged the rest of the team to accept it despite how radical it was compared to other years.

“Our goal was to provide expression of the music through our movements,” Amber Struzyk, the dance team coach said. “We wanted our performance to reach the audience and move them. Most routines dance to the music, while ours was intended to move with the music.”

With such a profound change in dance style, the team had to work relentlessly to accomplish their goal. The dance team took on the motto of “No one will ever work harder than us, EVER!” That motto certainly paid off.

Another accomplishment for the dance team was taking their second place finish in the hip-hop competition. The second-place finish was an improvement from the team’s fourth-place result in 2005 – the first year the hip-hop competition was included in the overall championship format.

“We were very excited about our second-place finish in the hip-hop competition,” Horton said. “Most of our competitors had routines that were professionally choreographed with a strong hip-hop emphasis. Our routine was completely developed on our own without any outside professional help.”

From 1996 to 2002 the University dance team’s average finish at the National Championships was sixth place, but since then the team’s work ethic, skill and style has put them on top. To try something different in a competition that Struzyk described “as the best it has ever been” is quite an accomplishment.

“I could not be more proud of this team, they danced like champions,” Struzyk said. “We take pride in representing the University of Minnesota. We have a tremendous University, athletic program and state and it was rewarding to know that we could win for them.”

Along with the dance team, the University of Minnesota cheer team and Goldy Gopher competed in the national competition. The cheer team placed 13th overall by performing a routine full of difficult stunts and original moves.

“This was an extremely difficult competition,” assistant coach Beth Frees said. “We actually performed better this year than when we finished in eighth at last year’s competition. It was also nice to see a strong showing from the Big Ten, which had six teams make the finals. The southern schools usually have a reign on the national competition, taking up most of the top ten positions. With all of the hard work and dedication, one of these years we will break through, just like the dance team. I am very proud of all the team members. They did a wonderful job representing the University of Minnesota.”

Goldy placed fifth in the mascot competition, but he did score higher than his archrival Bucky the Badger, who placed 10th. Goldy performed a school spirited routine full of props and fan support.

The spirit squad, which is an ensemble of the dance team, cheer team and Goldy, was the only team in the country to receive full reimbursement for its trip to the national competition. Each year teams and mascots from around the nation send in videotapes of their performances to the organizers and the top seeds are selected from each category to receive funds to travel and compete. Minnesota was the only school to be among the top in each category based off the videotapes.

The 2006 college cheer, dance and mascot national championships will be broadcast on ESPN throughout the year. To view the results of this years’ competition as well as the broadcast dates you can check

“We have an extremely dedicated and hard-working group,” Frees said. “We expect our team to work extremely hard each year in preparing for this event. It is the highlight to a season of hard work to be able to compete for a national championship.”

The drive for five has already started.

Written by Katie Fornasiere

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Kansas Rock Chalk Dancers UDA Article

Hard work pays off for nationally-revered dance team
From The University Daily Kansan
By Eric Jorgensen

Monday, January 23, 2006

Only one University of Kansas team has finished in the top five nationally in the past three seasons — the Rock Chalk Dancers.

The dance team finished third in the College National Championships on Jan. 15 in Orlando.

The Rock Chalk Dancers continued a trend that started two years ago, when they finished second. They placed fifth last year.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the team’s three-year run is that only 25 squads are allowed to compete at the national championships. The tournament field was selected through audition tapes sent in by each team.

The third-place finish in the most competitive division has solidified the team’s place as a national dance powerhouse.

“The team has really come together,” coach Tasha Ruble said.

Ruble said the team received more national recognition and performed at a near-perfect caliber. Some dancers agreed with Ruble and acknowledged that they have become revered as a national power.

“It gave me a great deal of pride to place in the top five for the third year in a row,” Christina Gekas, Eden Prairie, Minn., junior, said. “The program has built a lot these last three years. Before three years ago no one knew about us; now, we have national respect.”

The dancers also finished 11th in the Hip Hop competition.

Their ability to make the national championships year in and year out has taken its toll, according to team members. Long hours of endless dancing, cardiovascular training and repetition of their routines are in the job description for the dancers.

Taking each of those ingredients to the next level is how the team said they continually succeeded on the national stage.

Andrea Hill, Omaha, Neb., sophomore, said the consistency of the team’s placing at nationals has not surprised her. She said the team worked on routines all summer and fall. Before the national championship, the team practiced seven hours a day for two weeks.

“Our dedication and loyalty to the team helps,” Hill said. “We worked our butts off for nationals. We came back a week earlier than last year to practice. We practice as much if not more than other teams.”

Kelly Cure, Bloomington, Minn. sophomore, said that bruising, sweat-induced practices was the only way to stay ahead of the competition.

“Nationals practice is really intense. You feel like you can’t move afterward. It’s a marathon, it’s a battle,” Cure said.

Hill said she thought the team was as close to perfect as possible in Orlando.

“We performed amazing,” Hill said. “We did the best we possibly could with our routine. It’s a great feeling to know that all your hard work paid off.”

— Edited by Janiece Gatson

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

St. Thomas Dance Team wins its first national championship

From the St. Thomas University Bulletin

In a season that started with a demanding conditioning program in August … and evolved into twice-a-day training sessions prior to national competition … the University of St. Thomas Dance Team won its first national championship in the open division at the National College Dance Team Championships on Sunday, Jan. 15.

The Universal Dance Association finals were held at Walt Disney World in Orlando and will be televised on ESPN and ESPN2 starting sometime in March.

St. Thomas took first place by defeating dance powerhouse Orange Coast College, of Costa Mesa, Calif. It was the first year that 12-time defending champion Orange Coast had to settle for anything less than first place in the competition’s jazz category.

College dance teams compete in one of three divisions, based on the schools’ NCAA classification. St. Thomas was competing against 26 teams in the open division. Teams enter the competition pre-ranked from a videotaped routine submitted to the national office in early November.

The routines are judged and the top two teams with the highest scores in the open division receive an all-expenses-paid bid to the competition. The Tommies placed second to Orange Coast College in the pre-ranking and had their travel and accommodations paid by the championships.

"It felt really good going into the competition in second place,” said dance team coach Alysia Anderson. “We felt it was an ideal spot, having secured one of two paid bids but not in the top spot quite yet. It left a window of opportunity to move up in the rankings and was definitely a driving force in the team's motivation."

At the competition, Anderson said the team members felt good about their performance in the preliminary round. They entered the finals in first place after topping Orange Coast College by a wide margin. "It was a thrill to beat Orange Coast, but we knew we needed to step the performance up a notch. It was obvious Orange Coast would come back fighting in the final round. We were confident our performance could be much stronger in finals, so it was actually good we didn't have a perfect performance in prelims. We didn't want to peak too early."

The St. Thomas underdogs became something of a favorite at the competition, with spectators and other teams showing support. "It was unbelievable the number of coaches, dancers and spectators who were complimenting our routine, saying they loved it so much they got goosebumps, and telling us they thought we would win it all," Anderson recalled.

Other Midwest teams who ultimately joined in cheering for the Tommies were from St. Cloud State University, Minnesota State University-Moorhead, St. Benedict’s, Gustavus Adolphus, North Dakota State University, University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire, University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin- Madison.

There was a standing ovation when St. Thomas was declared the open division national champion for 2006.

St. Thomas also performed a second routine in the hip-hop category. Hip-hop was added to the national championships in 2004 and is growing each year. Last year, St. Thomas placed second in a hip-hop field of only six teams. This year, the Tommies placed second in a field of 17 teams.

"It's really neat to say we are strong in both jazz and hip-hop,” Anderson said. “It not only shows the versatility of the team, but also how we were able to prepare two strong routines at the same time."

St. Thomas and Orange Coast College flip-flopped places in hip-hop, as OCC went home with the first-place hip-hop trophy this year. "We were thrilled to have placed second; we would have been excited with anything in the top 10," Anderson said.

The University of Minnesota, meanwhile, mirrored St. Thomas’ finishes, but in Division 1-A, with a first in jazz and second in hip-hop.

Anderson said the St. Thomas team already is brainstorming ideas for next year. With only three seniors on this year’s squad, she predicted they will come back with another strong team.

Captains for this year’s team are juniors Rachel Brenk and Kara Eliason, and seniors Katherine Konrad and Eileen Weinberger.

Other team members are senior Meghan Anderson; juniors Nikki Bergene, Leah Burkard, Julie Hatlestad, Andrea LaVallie; sophomores Katelyn Breuss, Emily Bryce, Stacey Koesters, Alyssa Lefebvre, Jennifer Leone, Natalie Norenberg, Kali Pendzimas and Allison Scholz; and freshmen Sarah Akin, Lindsey Niesen, Lisa Orth, Cara Swenson and Leigh Threlkeld.

In addition to the team’s dedication and hard work, Anderson said credit to St. Thomas’ success also goes to choreographer Karl Mundt, of Eugene, Ore., and trainer Stephen McCarthy from Extreme Training.

Mundt, she said, developed a highly technical routine that focused on performance and audience connection. McCarthy developed a training program that included weights, agility and flexibility workouts, and metabolic runs. The training helped reduce injuries and helped team members to be in peak condition for the finals.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Cincinnati Div. I-A Hip-Hop Champions Again!

Only UC sport to hold three championships
By: Danh Vu
Issue date: 1/18/06 Section: News

The News Record

ORLANDO, Fla. -The University of Cincinnati dance team won the Division 1A title during the weekend for the hip-hop category, making it their third win in a row at the College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship.

This marks the first time that a UC team has won three national championships in any organization or sport.

Head coach Lisa Spears said she was proud of the team as it competed against tougher opponents in the hip-hop category this year.

"It seemed harder this year because we had to defend a national title," Spears said. "We knew that [the Minnesota team] was only a point behind us going into the finals and we had to step it up that much more and we did."

Team members said they were skeptical about winning after senior Cindy Schenk lost her hat in the middle of their hip-hop routine. However, the judges didn't consider the lost hat a major deduction to their overall score.

"There was definitely nervous tension after the performance. If the hat would've never came off we would've definitely been more excited about our performance," Schenk said.

More teams entered the competition this year, making the chances of the Bearcats winning even more difficult.

Ashlie Wilkson, a fourth-year dance-team member, agreed with her coach.

"We were confident going into the competition, but you never know," she said. "There's always that sleeper team that comes out of nowhere. Minnesota definitely did their job, but we did it better."

The dance team also completed its jazz routine with success, finishing sixth overall in the Division 1A dance category.

"Last year we got fourth and we hoped to get there this year, but we changed our style," Spears said. "We added some of the difficult moves that most teams bring, and we were so thrilled with what we got. We had some things fall out in the finals that we didn't expect would happen, but we're very, very pleased with the results. Top ten in the nation, you can't go wrong with that."

The UC cheerleading squad also competed in the national competition with their all-girls team and their coed team over the weekend. After committing some minimal mistakes during the semi-finals on Saturday afternoon, the all-girls cheerleading team finished Eighth overall.

Only in their second year and comprised of younger competitors, the all-girls squad was excited to finish in the top ten in the nation for the second year in a row.

"Eighth place is awesome considering the division itself was so hard," said team coach Leigh Ann Eagle. "The teams just raised the bar from last year and it was amazing that we even got to compete against that type of competition."

Fourth-year Jen Ogletree said she was also satisfied with their eighth place finish.

"It's awesome because of the teams we went up against," Ogletree said. "Just making it to finals, let alone all the teams we beat in the semis, shows that in two years we've grown so much."

The UC co-ed cheerleading squad failed to reach the finals this year, missing the opportunity to place nationally. Warm-ups and practices before the competition looked good, according to head coach Tabby Fagan.

The team witnessed a series of falls on some of their stunts and pyramids in their semi-finals Saturday evening.

Fagan was disappointed with the result considering the team had put in a lot of hard work for the national competition.

"I thought Saturday was going to be really good. They seemed very positive throughout the day being loose and relaxed," Fagan said. "Then they went out there and I saw a different team. They looked scared, not confident, and it was frustrating to watch, especially for them, because they put so much time in and you want something so bad and it just doesn't work out, it doesn't go your way."

The cheerleading and dance teams wrap up the year by supporting UC athletics before they head into their off-season.

See complete article at The News Record

Monday, January 16, 2006

Congratulations To This Year's UDA College Champions!

The UDA College Nationals wrapped up on Sunday with Minnesota winning its fourth straight Division IA championship. Cal State Fullerton reclaimed the Division I championship, and St. Thomas won the Open Dance title. If anyone was there and would like to write an article or story about the 2006 UDA College Nationals for this blog, please email:

Below are the results with winners pics
For complete coverage please visit: Varsity Spirit


Division IA Dance

1. University of Minnesota - Minneapolis
2. University of Tennessee
3. University of Kansas
4. University of Wisconsin - Madison
5. Florida State University
6. University of Cincinnati
7. University of Illinois
8. (TIE) University of Central Florida
8. (TIE) University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
9. University of Louisiana
10. Louisiana State University
11. (TIE) University of Oklahoma
11. (TIE) University of South Florida
12. University of Memphis


Division I Dance
FINALS - Results

1. California State University - Fullerton
2. California State University - Long Beach
3. Southeastern Louisiana University
4. (tie) University of Delaware
4. (tie) Sam Houston State University
5. George Mason University
6. Missouri State University
7. Oakland University
8. James Madison University
9. Hofstra University
10. University of Northern Iowa

St. Thomas

Open Dance
FINALS - Results

1. University of St. Thomas
2. Orange Coast College
3. University of California - Davis
4. Lindenwood University
5. North Dakota State University
6. (tie) College of St. Benedict
6. (tie) Gustavus Adolphus College
7. St. Cloud State University
8. Avila University
9. University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
10. The College of New Jersey
11. Minnesota State University - Moorhead
12. Wagner College
13. California Lutheran University

Friday, January 13, 2006

UDA College Nationals Underway This Weekend!

The UDA College Dance Team Championships will be underway this weekend, with the semifinals for Division IA, Division I, and Open Division taking place on Saturday. Below is a list of the competing squads with pictures of last year's champions. For championship coverage, log onto :
Varsity Spirit


Division IA
Minnesota (three straight championships)
Central Florida
Florida State
South Florida
Michigan State
Texas Tech
Colorado State
Kent State
Wake Forest
Eastern Michigan

Sam Houton State

Division I
Missouri State
Cal State Fullerton
George Mason
SE Louisiana
Sam Houston State (2005 champion)
James Madison
SE Missouri State
Northern Iowa
St. John's
St. Joseph's
Southern Illinois
Georgia Southern
Boston University

Orange Coast College

Orange Coast (2005 champion)
St. Thomas
North Dakota State
William Jewell
St. Benedict
Gustavus Adolphus
St. Cloud State
Minnesota State Moorhead
Wisconsin-Eau Claire
South Carolina- Aiken
Col. of New Jersey
Cal Lutheran
Central Arkansas
West Chester
Neosho College
Robert Morris
Northern Michigan
Endicott College
Missouri Valley College
Berkeley College

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

FIU Golden Dazzlers Dance Team

FIU Golden Dazzlers Dance Team to host AuditionClinic/Workshop

Auditions will be held April 22nd, 2006.

The clinics are designed to train anyone interested in auditioning for the team. Whether you are planning to audition or just simply want to take some dance classes this is just the thing for you.

All the information can be found at:

DAZZLERS receive a bid to compete at the NDA Collegiate Championships!

The FIU Golden Dazzlers finished sixth out of 18 squads in the Dance Division I category to earn a partial paid bid to the 2006 Chick-fil-A Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship to be held April 5-9 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

In order to get this bid, they had to submit a video that took about five months to prepare for and shoot. Only six schools receive a paid invitation and the team made it this year! The team has come very far. Four years ago they were in 14th place and the team has done better every year

About The Team:

The FIU Golden Dazzlers is the OFFICIAL dance team at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. The team consists of 25 dancers that perform at all men and women basketball games, some volleyball games, all home football games, pep rallies, Midnight Madness, Freshman Convocation and many other exciting school events. We also make some special appearances at events throughout the year such as the Harley Davidson Kids Holiday Show , the Latin Grammy Awards and the Univision television show Caliente which we have done in the past.

The team has been an integral part of the FIU sports scene since 1989. The first squad was called the Sun Blazer Dancers. Since then the team has gone through many changes, even being called the Panther Dancers in an attempt to rebuild the squad. But, the team has always been at it's best under the name GOLDEN DAZZLERS, which is why the team was reborn in 2001. After many years of back and forth placement throughout many school departments, as of 2001 the squad has been recognized under the school's Athletic Department and is considered the official university dance team. With the support of Athletics, the program has grown tremendously and is now one of the top college dance teams programs in the nation.

The one thing that has remained constant for the team has been it's loyalty to the National Cheerleaders Association under the former NCA Danz, now known as the NDA (National Dance Alliance). The entire team travels to summer dance camp every other year. Auditions for the Competition Team are held within the team in the month of December.