College Dance Team Central

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Golden Dazzlers Growing At The Speed Of Light

By Gianluca Messina

Last fall, the FIU football team improved dramatically but not too far behind, another team made a flashy emergence and has caught the eyes of not only the university, but also the rest of the Miami community.

Enter the Golden Dazzlers.

With a grueling practice schedule that consists of two four-hour practices a week (a third one is added in the months preceding their annual competition) as well as a two-mile run at the conclusion of each workout, these young women have made a pledge to strive for perfection.

“Honestly, it’s something that you have to commit yourself to; it’s a part-time job,” co-captain Jennifer Puentes said. “You work really hard and you want to see it pay off.”

The Golden Dazzlers training regimens may be challenging but it is all geared toward a specific purpose.

“What they bring is another entertainment value to the games and that’s what the program is supposed to be about,” said coach Brenda Popritkin.

And the entertainment value that FIU enthusiasts are graced with when they attend most athletic events is what has prompted popularity that has increased progressively over time.

After the release of their highly-anticipated swimsuit calendar in December, which also included the FIU Cheerleading squad, the Golden Dazzlers are becoming familiar even outside the state of Florida.

“We’ve been selling the calendars online and I would say that more than half of the online sales have been from New York fans,” Popritkin said with a laugh.

While the team’s primarily responsibility is to perform at Golden Panther athletic events, they have also made guest appearances at many outside functions such as Zo’s Summer Groove, the Harley Davidson Kids Holiday Show and the Latin Grammys.

Besides being in high demand for appearances, the team is also rigorously preparing for their annual national competition in April that will pose a new challenge because they will be moving up to a new division.

Despite the popularity gained and the expectations of the team, these young women enjoy striving to improve what has become their passion.

“I’m obsessed,” said captain Vanessa Marrero. “I know [the team] feels the same way because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be here right now.”

“It’s amazing; I love it and its makes me really excited to see what’s going to happen next year,” said co-captain Lisa Sakowitz.

For Popritkin, the evolution of the team that she helped to form several years ago has been an upward incline.

With the year that the Dazzlers have had, it will be tough to match but then again, Popritkin’s previous predictions have been off.

“Every single year they get better because the bar gets set higher. I look at the squad [each year] and say ‘there’s no way we could going to get a better group’ and then it just happens,” Popritkin said.

The popularity that the Golden Dazzlers now possess is a testament to the effort of both Popritkin and the 19 young women who want to fulfill their purpose to the best of their abilities. Thus far, the trials and tribulations have paid off and it will only get better for the group who is constantly finding new areas of recognition.

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