College Dance Team Central

Sunday, April 15, 2007

VSU Dance Team Returns Home After Nationals

By Chris Walsh
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University has had a dance team for a couple of years, but the first time the VSU dancers competed on the national level was last week in Daytona, Fla. In an open class of 16 teams throughout the nation, Valdosta State made it to the finals and finished in ninth place.

“We had a lot of dedicated team members that had never competed before,” said coach Kelly Holland. “It was a learning experience.”

“You can practice a lot, but there is no way to prepare for the stress of being judged in a competition.”

In the Open Division that VSU competed in, size didn’t matter as teams from Division I and Division II faced each other.

Schools as far away as Hawaii to as close as Georgia Southern and the University of Georgia took the stage on the beach.

“It’s unlike other sports with whoever scores the most points wins and it’s very black and white. With dance, scoring is very subjective or opinionated — that’s probably the hardest part of it,” said Holland.

On Thursday, VSU competed against the other 16 teams and danced its way into the finals as the only Division II school. Nine teams would get the chance to return on Friday for a shot at the National Title.

“The best moment was after prelim’s, getting with all my teammates and listening to them announce our score,” said Dance Team member Naia Tilghman.

The dancers weren’t the only ones pleasantly surprised as the coaches and staff from VSU were in attendance, cheering right along with them.

“When you make it to finals, it’s kind of like, ‘Wow, this is more than we expected,” said Holland.

“It gave people the chance to know more about Valdosta State. We are very excited about going back next year and continuing to progress.”

The National Title eventually went to WMU with a score of 9.08, but a handful of local teams finished well. Florida State finished in third with a 8.96 and UGA finished in fifth with a 8.81.

As the Cinderella team, VSU finished in ninth place with a score of 8.44, but just making it to the finals in their first appearance was enough to call for celebration.

“I’m very proud that our team got it together and were able to go, and that we made it to the finals as rookies not knowing totally what we were getting into,” said Tilghman.

“This group of girls was great, and I couldn’t have asked for a better going away from VSU because I’ve never competed at such a high level.”

Now Valdosta State will continue dancing at the basketball games and getting ready to defend its finals appearance in 2008.

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