College Dance Team Central

Thursday, March 27, 2008

BSU Band, Cheerleaders And Dancers Experience Birmingham

By Jake Garcin
Arbiter Online

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - They might not always live in the spotlight, but that doesn't mean they aren't making an impact. They are the band, cheerleaders and dance team members, and just because their presence isn't always acknowledged, but it is most certainly always felt.

So as the Boise State men's basketball team prepares to take on Louisville in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday night, it only seems fitting that the Broncos' supporting cast is taking in the excitement of March Madness too.

A joint effort

BSU cheer and dance coach Julie Stevens was on hand for the Broncos Western Athletic Conference championship win in Las Cruces, N.M. last Saturday. As soon as that game ended, she knew both her team's seasons were going to be extended for at least another week as well.

With just three days to prepare Stevens went back to work, trying to compile a team of dancers and cheerleaders who would be able to make the trip to Alabama.

"We got home on Sunday and found out the selection," Stevens said. "So trying to put a group that could go…it took a little bit of work. It was a challenge but it was fun."

Part of the selection process was based on academic schedules. Other factors included; who went to the WAC tournament, as well as who was going to stay home and cheer for the BSU women's basketball team Thursday night in the first round of the WNIT.

In the end, she was able to secure spots for four women from each team. That meant that she would have to tweak each team's routines so that a hybrid cheer-dance squad would be ready to perform on Friday night.

"It's not to bad," BSU Maneline dance team member Jenn Hesse said about learning some of the cheer routines. "We had to change some of our routines…it's a little bit harder to pick up."

The women arrived in Birmingham, Ala. with the basketball team Wednesday night. On Thursday, they were able to schedule an hour of practice at a near by grass field behind the hotel.

"You know it hasn't been too bad," BSU cheerleader Mallory Kelsay said about the short amount of preparation time. "It's definitely fun. Normally we're split up and now we get to incorporate everyone...so it's a good experience."

An hour was about all they could spare, however, with morning study sessions and an educational field trip taking up the rest of their day.

"They need to stay up on there studies, when you're gone for so long," Stevens said. "The professors at Boise State are really cool...they were very willing."

Stevens said that along with study sessions she is responsible for administering three tests while the team is gone, because some of the women were forced to miss midterm tests to make the trip. Stevens also said that all the extra work is well worth it, though, as she knows that her team's presence on these road trips make a difference.

Bring on the band

BSU Blue Thunder Marching Band Director David Wells knows his band is tired. Just like the cheer and dance teams, the BSU band has been spread thin throughout the men's basketball team's run to the NCAA tournament.

"We came out of that ball game down there after New Mexico just totally exhausted just like the team," Wells said.

They haven't let that slow them down one bit, however. Following the NCAA selection show last Sunday, Wells began compiling a list of band members who would be ready to make the trip on short notice.

"It's just a matter of turning around and looking at the line up and start separating people," Wells said. "We also have a band back in Boise that's doing the basketball game tonight for the ladys, so we had to split it right down the middle. There's 29 people with me and 29 people ready to play for the lady Broncos."

The 29 members who were fortunate enough to make the trip are trying to make the most of their time in Alabama.

"The excitement of getting to go to the NCAA tournament is awesome," BSU freshman Tyler Wagoner said. "It's been my dream since a long time ago. It's just good fun."

Well's group has always been known for their enthusiasm during BSU sporting events. He said that even though he doesn't have a full group on hand, he does expect that same level of excitement Friday night.

"We're just ready to go," Wells said. "The bands are competing just as hard and with as much energy as with what the teams are."

The long term effects of BSU's participation in the tournament should extend long past this weekend. The fact that BSU is playing on a national stage will only help in the band's future recruiting.

"It's very significant for the school to get our name out," BSU graduate assistant Alejandra Montesino said.

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