College Dance Team Central

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Essexville Women Travel With MSU As Members Of The Spartan Dance Team

By Trevor M. Keyes
The Bay City Times

As the Michigan State University men's basketball team laces up their sneakers for tonight's NCAA tournament game, two Essexville natives will be on the same court lacing up their dance shoes.

Rachel Brunette, 23, and Stephanie Estes, 21, are in Houston as members of the MSU Dance Team, a student-run dance troupe that performs on the sidelines during men's basketball and football games.

Both women have been on the dance team for three years and have enough seniority to travel with the team.

A third dance team member from Bay County, Lindsay Bacigalupo, is a freshman at MSU and did not travel to Houston.

In the past two weeks, Brunette and Estes have traveled to Indianapolis for the Big Ten tournament and to Denver for MSU's start in the NCAA Tournament. Tonight, the team plays in Houston against Memphis.

Brunette and Estes were ready to go as two of six dance team members allowed to travel. The dance team has 18 members.

''I'm all packed from last week,'' said Estes, a communications and public relations senior. ''Changed a few things here and there, did a little laundry, but still pretty much packed.''

Being on the road means Estes and Brunette have had to swap desks for airplane seats.

''Your life feels crazy,'' said Brunette, the dance team's captain and a nursing senior. ''You have to talk to your teachers, and get your assignments from your friends. But, you don't get these kinds of opportunities all the time. You get what you have to get done and then pack up and get ready to go again.''

Brunette is a 2003 graduate of Garber High School. Estes is a 2004 Garber graduate.

The recent trips with the basketball team isn't the only traveling the women have done with the dance team. In late December, they followed the Spartan football team to Orlando, Fla., to participate in the Champs Sports Bowl. Three weeks later, the dance team took the trip to Orlando again to compete in a national dance competition.

Brunette and Estes helped bring Bacigalupo onto the dance team last April. Bacigalupo, a Bay City Central graduate, danced locally with Brunette and Estes before attending MSU.

''I came down and practiced with the team a couple of times and then tried out and made it,'' said Bacigalupo, 18.

While she hasn't been on the team long enough to make road trips, she's hopeful her time will come.

''It's hard to see half the team go, but it's all about seniority and they all put in their time,'' Bacigalupo said. ''It's (Tom) Izzo's 13th year (as MSU men's basketball coach) and they've made it to the Sweet 16 seven times. When it's my turn, I'll have some pretty good odds to go too,'' she said.

The Spartans are a fifth seed in the South region of the NCAA tournament. In the first round, MSU beat Temple and upset Pitt in the second round to make it into the Sweet 16.

At 9:57 p.m. today, the Spartans take on the Memphis team that came into the tournament with a No. 1 seed.

While they will be dancing In Houston tonight, Estes is already looking ahead.

''I hope we win ... and go to the Final Four again. It'll be nice to get some sunshine (in San Antonio),'' she said.


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