College Dance Team Central

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Penn State Lionettes Take Fourth

Lionettes' best finish in recent history

University Park, Pa. - The Penn State Lionettes Dance Team went from the sidelines of football and basketball games to the spotlight after placing in fourth at the National Dance Alliance (NDA) competition in Daytona, Fla. earlier this spring. It is the first time in the Lionettes' history that they have placed in the top five in the NDA championship and they did it in an incredible fashion by coming in fourth place.

Dance team advisor Sue Sherburne has been a leader and mentor for the team since her arrival in the spring of 1997.

"It's a huge accomplishment without having a full-time coach," said Sherburne, who is also an Assistant Director, Academic Counselor & Coordinator of the Nagle/CHAMPS Life Skills Program in the Morgan Academic Center at Penn State.

Sherburne continued to say that between herself, the choreographer and the team captains, they work together to ensure that the void from the lack of full-time coaching does not keep the talented team from excelling.

There are 26 girls on the dance team and trials for the competition squad began in October. Sixteen girls and two alternates were selected, with 15 actually competing in the competition. Senior Sydney Klein, who competed in the NDA all four of her collegiate years, was the Lionettes' Nationals Coordinator this year. She was responsible for scheduling flights and getting the team where it needed to be to compete.

Despite all of the preparation it wasn't always smooth sailing for the team, though, as there were obstacles all the way up to the final event with three girls becoming injured in separate incidents. One of the injured was senior Ashley Herbick, who broke her foot during basketball season. Despite being upset that she could not perform in her senior year, she remained a motivational and inspirational person for the team to go on and win. The two alternates joined the competition team and worked together to incorporate the changes that occurred on such short notice. Another alternate had to be added to the competition team just in case any other accidents happened.

The fourth place finish in Daytona was exciting and very rewarding for everyone, and Sherburne added that she was especially proud for all the effort they put in since the majority of the year is spent performing at football and basketball games, leaving only about a month that is fully devoted to preparing for the nationals.

Aside from performing at the games, the team was actively involved with THON, and maintains a 3.6 team GPA.

"It's not just about winning," Sherburne said. "It's about everything else they've done to get there."

Both the dance team and cheerleading squad compete in the NDA championships. A total of 220 schools competed and the Lionettes were one of 17 dance teams competing in the Division I Athletics group.

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