College Dance Team Central

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

MT Dance Team Excels In National Competition

By Sarah Lavery
Sidelines Online

In its first year under the spirit program and with a brand new coach, the MTSU Dance Team placed sixth in this year's National Cheer Association-National Dance Association Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship.

The team's new coach, Casey Reese, came into the program in February. The team had already started practicing before she arrived.

"I'm so proud of how these girls worked as a team and how they came out on top," Reese said.

During the competition, which took place April 9 through 13 in Daytona Beach, Fla., the team, at first, came just short of making the final round.

But the Dance Team procured the coveted Challenge Cup, competing against other teams that didn't pass the preliminaries for one last spot in the finals.

Before getting the Challenge Cup, the girls were ranked ninth overall in the "Open Dance Division I" category, performing a lyrical jazz routine.

In the end, though, they secured their sixth-place spot.

The team, which recently held its tryouts for the upcoming year, practices twice a week for four hours at a time. The MTSU Dance Team now has 16 new members, and Reese said she couldn't be more excited.

This year, the Dance Team-hopefuls had to master triple Pirouettes, complicated ballet-turns in second position and switch leaps, among many other advanced techniques, just to be considered for the team.

"The new team this year is of a totally higher standard," Reese said. "We're really trying to put MTSU on the map in cheer and dance. We had much higher expectations [in selecting this year's group]."

The MTSU Cheerleading Squad also took part in the competition, but did not make it to the final round. They also tried for the Challenge Cup and placed fifth, which put them at 15th overall.

"We actually had a lot of deductions in preliminaries," said Renee Hathaway, MTSU Spirit Coordinator. "Had we not had them, would have been in third."

The small, co-ed cheer squad, consisting of four males and 16 females, is also a new group. Fourteen of the team's members, in fact, are freshman and had never competed at a collegiate level.

"I'm very proud of how hard the cheerleaders worked," Hathaway said. "They worked for three months just to go down there, and for them not to do what they expected, it is disappointing."

During the upcoming year, Hathaway said she hopes the squad will have two full teams-10 couples on a co-ed squad, 20 members of an all-girl squad and six alternates, and each cheerleading hopeful will have already mastered a standing back-tuck.

"Our standards have gotten a lot higher," Hathaway said. "This year, I would like to see a lot team bonding, a lot of synchronized stunts."

Even more, Hathaway said she hopes the entire MTSU spirit program can work with each other, to create an even better atmosphere at sporting events.

"I want the whole spirit program-cheer, dance and the mascot-to be at all of the ballgames. I don't want [to separate cheer and dance anymore. We will both be on the sidelines. There won't be a basketball game that you won't see the dance team."

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