College Dance Team Central

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Orange Coast College: Give the squad a W-I-N

College’s dance squad took first and second place in competition in Florida. They say their secret weapon is ‘practice, practice, practice.’

By Tom Ragan
Daily Pilot

As though choreographed, the girls gather around the pair of shiny trophies at the Fitness Complex at Orange Coast College, falling in lock step to something they’ve grown accustomed to over the years: winning national titles in Orlando, Fla.

It’s not the first time the OCC Dance Squad has returned with a first and second place trophy — and it certainly won’t be the last. The 16-member squad has won 14 national titles in the last 15 years, and some of the girls have gone on to bigger things — like dancing for the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers or the San Diego Chargers.

The key to their success isn’t just about pretty looks, dazzling smiles and swirling hair. As corny as it sounds, they say it’s all about “practice, practice, practice” — mixed in, of course, with Coach Dan Sapp’s eye for originality and his 25 years of coaching experience.

“The girls are very disciplined, and they know what to expect when they come into the program,” Sapp said. “We have a goal and we reach for it. I try to come up with something new and innovative and then we drill and work on it — mentally, physically and emotionally.”

By the time the national competition rolls around, they’re more than prepared, Sapp said. But even then the girls don’t sit back and rest. Over Christmas break, for example, they did nothing but practice, they said, some of them waking up as early as 5 a.m. to begin their moves.

“For three hours a day, for two weeks straight, we got together every day and practiced,” said Stephanie Yonkovich, 20, one of the squad’s captains. “The coach reminds us that we have a reputation to uphold, and we try to uphold it.”

And that’s exactly what the team did on the East Coast. They took first place in the “Pom-pon” category and second place in jazz before a 4,000-plus crowd at the Orlando venue earlier this month. In all, 30 dance teams competed and 15 made it to the finals.

It was quite the moment when judges announced OCC as the first- and second-place winners among the smaller universities and junior colleges across the country.

“What’s special is that we never won first place in ‘the pom’ before,” said Taylor Winston, 19. “It was something we set out to do and we did it. That’s what we’re all about: setting higher standards for ourselves.”

For those who don’t know the difference between cheerleading and dance squad, there’s a distinction. The OCC cheer squad, a formidable unit in its own right, performs all sorts of acrobats and pyramids while the dance team, well, dances. While the cheerleaders are “more athletic,” the dance squad is more “more artistic,” Sapp said.

Both, however, work beautifully together as a team, said Mike Reynolds, cheer coach and advisor for OCC’s Cheer and Dance Program.

“These days, they’re starting as early as 6 years old,” Reynolds said. “You have to if you want to be really good.”

If anybody would like to see the two teams perform together, Sunday is your chance.

Both will be performing inside the Pyramid at Cal State Long Beach, starting about 11 a.m.

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Delaware Dance Team Win Big In Nationals

By Jerry Rhodes
Newark Post

The University of Delaware dance, cheerleading and mascot teams turned in award-winning performances at the 2010 United Cheerleading Association and Universal Dance Association national championships, held Jan. 15-18 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.

The UD dance team took first place in the hip hop competition and third in jazz, while the UD cheerleaders finished in second place overall in Division I.

YoUDee, a Mascot Hall of Fame member and defending national champion, took second place in the open mascot finals. Performances and results of the mascot, dance and cheerleading team competitions can be found at the Web site.

The UD dance team won its second consecutive first place award in the hip hop competition, and its third title in the genre's seven-year history.

Pamela Leary, a senior communication major from Newtown, Pa., and a three-year veteran, said coming back to campus with another first place trophy was on the minds of everybody on the dance team.

“Hip hop has not been around as long as the jazz category and after winning it last year, we really wanted to make it two years in a row,” Leary said. “We try to pick a song that is familiar to the judges and the fans, and this year we chose 'Bad Boys for Life' by P. Diddy.”

Getting ready for the two-minute performance, the 14 members who were on stage created a circle to get comfortable while adding a visual complement to the music, Leary said.

“Each dancer has her own place, and we usually do 13 formations, something which energizes our performance and keeps it from seeming flat,” Leary said. “We knew second place is still very good but we really wanted to show that that we were the best, and we did. A lot of teams came up and complimented us on our performance.”

The dance team also proved that it has a diverse repertoire by taking third in the jazz competition this year.

Marissa Lewis, a freshman University studies student from East Brunswick, N.J., said it is hard to believe that a routine that took months to prepare goes by so quickly in a two-minute performance.

“It was like a blur,” Lewis said. “I was nervous but all the girls were there and we calmed each other down.”

For high school and college students interested in becoming a member of the UD dance team, a college preparatory clinic will be held Feb. 21, in the Carpenter Sports Building, and auditions are slated for April 17-18. For more information, visit the dance team Web site.

Benjamin Schreiber, first-year head coach of the UD cheerleading team, said that the team came together and performed well against a group of highly competitive rivals.

“We're getting closer as a team,” Schreiber said. “We are excited to work the rest of the basketball season and then to take a break and plan for the future.”

Michael Martinez, a sophomore quantitative biology major from Saddle Brook, N.J., said that the skills required as a member of the UD cheerleading team are different than those associated with the sports he played in high school.

“I played football, wrestling and baseball in high school, but this is different,” Martinez said. “A friend of mine made the team, and I became interested. I came to the trials and made the team, as well.”

While the mascot performance in competition at the national level lasts just about 90 seconds, each skit and prop represents countless hours of preparation in getting things just right, said Kenneth Siebold, a freshman sports marketing major from Newark, Del.

“It was a lot of work to prepare for it, but it paid off in the end,” Siebold, a first-time nationals participant, said. “Designing and building the props is tedious, and for the newer members of the team, it involves a lot of grunt work, but it's also a lot of fun.”

Chavez Eaton, a sophomore computer science major from Felton, Del., and first-time mascot team visitor to Disney World, described the performance as phenomenal. “It was my first time flying and going to Disney World,” he said. “The hard work paid off and I certainly would do it again. I also liked hearing students from other schools say how much they respected all of our spirit teams.”

Andrew Macleary, junior accounting and international business major from Wilmington, said returning to the nationals as a veteran made it somewhat a less-intimidating and more enjoyable experience.

“I went last year, but going this year was even better, because I knew what we had to do,” Macleary said. “This year the skits were better and the bar was raised for all of us.”

Kevin Di Girolamo, a junior organizational and community leadership major from Hockessin and returning mascot team member, said, “Once you know what it's like at the competition, it makes it better.”

Chad Mills, a junior biology major from Bear, Del., also said that returning members have a better idea of what needs to be done and that it's great to follow a project through, from an original idea to the final performance at the competition.

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SeattleU Dance Team to Host Clinic February 27

The Seattle University Dance Team invites all aspiring young dancers to the Collegiate Dance Team Clinic and Halftime Performance on Saturday, Feb. 27, at KeyArena at Seattle Center.

The clinic will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will involve technique instruction as well as a seminar on preparing for college dance team tryouts. Campers will learn a halftime routine, sideline movements, and stingers, and a Q&A with the Seattle University Dance Team will close out the session.

At halftime of that night's men's basketball game between Seattle University and Cal State Bakersfield, the campers will join the SeattleU Dance Team in a special performance. Each camper will receive two tickets to the game as well as a clinic T-shirt.

The cost of the clinic is $50 per student, with teams of eight or more dancers receiving a 10% discount off the registration fee per person. The registration form can be downloaded by clicking the link above, or for more information contact Hayley Quinn, head dance team coach, at (206) 948-5116 or

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UALR Dance Team to Host Clinic

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—The UALR Dance Team will host a kids clinic Saturday, February 13 at the Jack Stephens Center. The clinic is open to kids age 6-12 and costs $25 per dancer.

Each participant will get to perform at half-time of the UALR Trojans game against Western Kentucky that night and will also receive a UALR dance t-shirt and tickets to the game.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the clinic starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 12 p.m. Participants must wear tennis shoes and gym clothes to the clinic.

For more information or to R.S.V.P., please contact Andrea Nunez at (501) 569-3393 or at

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Two National Titles Come Home With The Minnesota Dance Team

The University of Minnesota Dance Team brought home the National Championship in both Division 1A Jazz and Division 1A Pom. The team was the first dance team to capture the coveted double title within the Division 1A College National Championship.

The UDA College National Championship is held in Orlando, FL. The championship involves three steps of competition all of which the Golden Gopher Dance Team finished in 1st. The first step is when each team submits a video to qualify for the National Championship which results in national rankings leading into the weekend. Upon arrival in Florida, each team competes in a semi-final round to determine the qualifying teams for finals. The final round of competition was held on Sunday, January 17th in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex with teams representing the Big 10, Pac 10, SEC, ACC and Big East Conferences.

When asked how to describe what it felt like when they called Minnesota for the title in both divisions, Senior Captain Toni Gabrielli said, "It was a feeling of disbelief. Oddly enough, it was a humbling experience to hear Minnesota called after three years of being on the other side of things. Our team already felt like champions because of the work we put into our routines before even arriving in Orlando. Having our drive and passion acknowledged and appreciated by people we respect is just icing on the cake!"

The University of Minnesota Dance Team won the National Championship in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. The 2010 Championship is the 5th Title in the program's history.

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CSUF Dance Team Wins National Title

By Katelin Paiz

The Cal State Fullerton dance team beat out dancers from around the country to win this year’s UCA Division college national title, which was hosted in Orlando, Florida on the Jan. 17. The win gave the team its ninth title in 11 years.

“It was very intense,” said Chelsea Horn, a member of the team for the past two years. “There were a lot of teams there, but we were able to focus throughout the whole experience, which I think really helped us do well.”

This win follows what the team’s advisers call a disappointing third place finish in last year’s competition.

“To not only lose our title but to get third place, it was just a hard loss,” said adviser Jennie Volkert, an alumnus of the team. Volkert added, however, that “to come back this year and be there with the girls and actually take our title back and get the win, it was amazing.”

The team was able to beat out local rivals Cal State Long Beach by over 13 points.

“This year was probably the best competition I’ve ever seen. I mean it could have gone a lot of different ways. We, fortunately, just had an amazing performance,” said Volkert.

The team credits its win to the incredible amount of work the team put in. During competition season, the team practices every day.

“They’re 100 percent devoted, that’s for sure,” said adviser Sam Shen, who, like her colleague, is an alumna of the team.
Only 10 of the 11 dancers were able to compete following an incident last month in which one of the dancers hurt her thumb, an injury that required surgery, during a performance at a basketball game.

Team captain Sarah Ellman said she felt that the team was driven.

“We just pretty much did everything we could to really focus this year and we were determined to win,” said Ellman.
In a bonding effort, the dancers were paired up in a big sister/little sister fashion in which one of the teams veterans adopted a newcomer.

“We quickly bonded with them by having little sister/big sister,” said Ellman; adding, “some of us even room together off campus.”

For 11 years, the team has been a fixture on campus, starting as a club under ASI. The team was adopted by the athletics department five years ago and has been an integral part of the CSUF Spirit Squad, made up of cheerleaders, dancers and mascots, ever since.

The team mainly performs at men’s and women’s basketball games but also attends volleyball, soccer and baseball games.

The tryouts for the team will likely be held between mid April and early May.

An airing of the performance will be made available on ESPN and ESPN2 within the month.

The team will be performing its national-winning routine at the homecoming game this Saturday.

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UNI Dance Team Wins National Title

CEDAR FALLS --- The University of Northern Iowa dance team captured a national championship at the 2010 Universal Dance Association (UDA) National Championships in Orlando, Fla.
The dance team received first place in the Pom division, marking the first time in school history that the UNI dance team has claimed a national title.

The squad also took eighth place in the Jazz division.

The dance team arrived in Orlando on Jan. 14. After practices on Thursday night and Friday morning, they performed in the Jazz semi-finals on Saturday and advanced to the finals. They performed in both the Jazz division and Pom division finals on Jan. 17, coming away with the school's first title.

Dance team adviser is Jessica Fuller.

"The UNI Dance Team has progressively been making a name for themselves not only at the university but in the nation. Their hard work, dedication, and passion for dance have gotten them to where they deserve, which is winning the national title," she said.

The significance of winning a national championship was not lost on the team members. Holli Rutherford, a senior, said, "At the moment they announced our name as national champions it was the most amazing feeling. There are not words to express how happy and how proud I was to be a part of history. My senior year as a UNI dancer could not have had a better ending. I will forever be proud of the hard work that our team put into making our dream come true."

Division I Pom - 1st Place
Division I Jazz - 8th Place

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LSU Tiger Girls Take Top Spot At Nationals

By Lauren Hendrix

While most of the nation was focused on the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, the LSU Tiger Girls Dance Team and the LSU Cheerleaders were battling it out on the mat at the 2010 College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championships at the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Fla.

Both spirit teams moved up a spot in their categories. reported this time last year that the Tigers Girls placed second in the Hip-Hop category and took seventh place in the Jazz category. The LSU Cheerleaders landed the fifth place spot, which was "a spot up" from the 2008 competition.

That is all in the past this year. Under the direction of Pauline Zernott and the superior coaching of Denise Dicharry and Alisha Andrepont, the Tiger Girls took the top spot in the Hip Hop National Championship and placed sixth in the Jazz competition.

The LSU Cheerleaders placed fourth in the nation. According to that was "only 15 points behind 18-time national champion Kentucky."

Director Pauline Zernott's pride at all of her teams' achievements was evident when she boasted that she is, "very proud of how we represented LSU. We are an outstanding spirit team and all of our hard work paid off. We are well respected in the cheerleading and dance world, and I think that is a great thing for our University. To have other schools look to us to model their spirit programs after is awesome!"

According to Zernott, the Tiger Girls' win was, "a great feeling to know we went out and represented our University and came out on top. We were second last year so it was a goal of ours to win!"

Zernott explained what propelled the teams to win was that, "We have great coaches, and the team is motivated to represent LSU in the best possible manner. They also enjoy doing what they do."

Next year the team is aimed for another win with 11 freshmen on its roster.

To see the spirit teams in action all you have to do is attend the LSU women's and men's basketball games or watch the cheerleaders at every home gymnastics meet.

To watch the 2010 The Tiger Girls award winning performance log onto or

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2010 UDA College Nationals Results

Finals results for the 2010 UDA Collegiate Nationals...For complete results including galleries and video Click Here


Division IA Jazz Final Results
1. University of Minnesota – Minneapolis
2. University of Tennessee
3. Florida State University
4. University of Cincinnati
5. Arizona State University
6. Louisiana State University
7. Michigan State University
8. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
9. University of Mississippi
10. The Ohio State University
11. University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
12. Rutgers University
13. University or Illinois – Champaign
14. University of Louisiana – Lafayette

Division I Jazz Final Results
1. California State University – Fullerton
2. California State University – Long Beach
3. University of Delaware
4. Hofstra University
5. University of South Alabama
6. North Dakota State University
7. Southeastern Louisiana University
8. University of Northern Iowa
9. Idaho State University
10. St Johns University
11. Missouri State University
12. University of Illinois – Chicago
13. University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

Open Jazz Final Results
1. University of Saint Thomas
2. Orange Coast College
3. Lindenwood University
4. College of Saint Benedict
5. The College of New Jersey
6. Northwest Missouri State University
7. University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
8. Avila University
9. St Cloud State University & University of Puerto Rico - Bayamon
10. Wagner College
11. West Chester University
12. Grand View University
13. Queens College


Division IA Hip Hop Final Results
1. Louisiana State University
2. University Of Memphis
3. University of Cincinnati
4. University of Nevada – Las
5. University of Tennessee
6. University of Oklahoma
7. Florida State University
8. Michigan State University
9. University of Wisconsin –
10. University of Illinois – Champaign
11. University of Louisiana - Lafayette
12. University of Kansas
13. Rutgers University
14. University of Michigan – Ann
15. University of Alabama
16. University of Oregon

Division I Hip Hop Final Results
1. University of Delaware
2. University of Illinois – Chicago
3. University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
4. Temple University
5. Missouri State University
6. North Dakota State University
7. Hofstra University
8. Southeastern Louisiana University
9. The George Washington University
10. University of Central Arkansas
11. St Johns University

Open Hip Hop Final Results
1. Lindenwood University
2. University of Saint Thomas
3. Avila University
4. University of Puerto Rice – Bayamon
5. St Cloud State University
6. The College of New Jersey
7. University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
8. West Chester University
9. Georgia College & State University


Division IA Pom Final Results
1. University of Minnesota – Minneapolis
2. University of Memphis
3. University of Colorado –Boulder
4. University of Oklahoma
5. University of Kentucky
6. University of Iowa
7. The Ohio State University
8. UCF

Division I Pom Final Results
1. University of Northern Iowa
2. University of Central Arkansas
3. University of New Hampshire
4. Loyola University

Open Pom Final Results
1. Orange Coast College
2. Grand View University
3. Millikin University


Friday, January 15, 2010

UDA Collegiate Nationals 2010!

The UDA Collegiate Nationals take place in Orlando this weekend and Dave Sanchez from the Dance Team Competitions Yahoo! Group has once again provided College Dance Team Central with predictions and the most thorough preview of this weekend's competitors around. Can Tennessee take the top spot for a fourth straight year in Division IA dance? Will Long Beach State repeat in Division I? Will Orange Coast College (above) take the Open Dance Division again? We'll find out this weekend!

For full online coverage of this weekend's events including video, please visit

Division 1A Blind Prediction: My totally blind prediction: 1) Minnesota, 2) Tennessee, 3) Wisconsin, 4) Florida State, 5) Cincinnati, 6) Michigan, 7) LSU, 8) Arizona State, 9) Kentucky, 10) Louisiana, 11) Central Florida, 12) Michigan State, 13) Kansas, 14) Ohio State, 15) Iowa, 16) Rutgers, 17) North Carolina.

For full capsules on all the competing Division 1A squads Click Here

Division 1 Blind Prediction: 1) Idaho State, 2) Cal State Fullerton, 3) Long Beach State, 4) North Dakota State, 5) Missouri State, 6) St. John's, 7) Hofstra, 8) Northern Iowa, 9) Delaware, 10) SE Louisiana, 11) UC-Santa Barbara 12) Central Michigan, 13) George Washington, 14) South Alabama, 15) Illinois-Chicago, 16) Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 17) Northern Arizona, 18) Murray State.

For full capsules on all the competing Division 1 squads Click Here

Open Division Blind Prediction: 1) Orange Coast College, 2) Lindenwood, 3) St. Thomas, 4) Avila, 5) Harvard, 6) NW Missouri State, 7), (Wisconsin Eau Claire), 8) (St. Cloud State) 9) College of New Jersey, 10) Wagner, 11) St. Benedict, 12) West Chester, 13) Puerto Rico-Bayamon, 14) Grand View, 15) Concordia, 16) California Lutheran.

For full capsules on all the competing Open Division squads Click Here

Division 1A Hip Hop Blind Prediction: 1) Memphis, 2) Cincinnati, 3) Tennessee, 4) Wisconsin, 5) LSU, 6) Oklahoma, 7) Florida State, 8) Louisiana, 9) Kansas, 10) Arizona State, 11) Michigan, 12) UNLV, 13) Mississippi, 14) Washington State, 15) Michigan State, 16) Alabama.

For full capsules on all the competing Division 1A squads Click Here

Division 1 Hip Hop Blind Prediction: 1) Hofstra, 2) Illinois-Chicago, 3) Delaware, 4) (Long Beach State), 5) Idaho State, 6) St. Joseph, 7) George Washington, 8) North Dakota State, 9) Missouri State, 10) SE Louisiana, 11) South Alabama, 12) Temple, 13) UC-Santa Barbara, 14) St. John's, 15) Central Arkansas, 16) Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

For full capsules on all the competing Division 1 squads Click Here

Open Division Hip Hop Blind Prediction: 1) Lindenwood, 2) St. Thomas, 3) Avila, 4) (St. Cloud State,) 5) (Wisconsin Eau Claire) 6) College of New Jersey, 7) Puerto Rico-Bayamon, 8) Parkland, 9) West Chester, 10) Nassau Community College, 11) Westfield, 12) Scranton, 13) LIU-CW Post, 14) Nassau Community College, 15) Northern Kentucky.

For full capsules on all the competing Open Division squads Click Here


Nothing But the Best; Tennessee Dance Team Feature

By Drew Rutherford, UT Media Relations

Two minutes. That is all the time given to the 18 women on the Tennessee dance team to perform a routine that has taken them weeks to master. But that is all the time they need.

These Vols have owned the jazz category of the College Dance Team National Championships, winning a remarkable three consecutive titles.

"The eight seniors on our team haven't known anything other than championships since they have been at Tennessee," UT Spirit Coordinator Joy Postell-Gee said. "They are going for their fourth title in four years this year."

Being the best dance team in America draws a lot of attention and offers many unique opportunities. The UT dancers performed alongside Hank Williams, Jr., in the Monday Night Football intro on ESPN.

They also showed their skills in the Eric Berry for Heisman music video starring Berry as well as Tennessee basketball player and hip-hop artist Renaldo Woolridge.

While the dancers always look sharp--whether on the big screen or entertaining Vols fans at a UT sporting event--there is a lot of work put in leading up to those performances.

"We may practice one eight-count portion of our routine for two hours," head dance coach Kelley Eidenmuller said. "Over Christmas break when all the other students go home, we stay here and practice eight or nine hours a day to prepare for nationals."

Eidenmuller joined the UT dance team as a team member in 2000 and served as the captain her senior year. After earning her diploma from Tennessee in 2005, she stayed on The Hill to serve as the head coach. In her first three seasons, Eidenmuller has had the Midas touch. Her first three campaigns have ended with her Tennessee dance team standing above the rest as the national champion.

"She is three for three--Pat Summitt better watch out!" Postell-Gee said.

For the women who have put in the hours in the dance studio, the experience leaves a lasting memory of their time on Rocky Top.

"Being a part of this team and a part of UT Athletics has been like nothing I have ever experienced before," senior Emmy Bibliowicz of Winter Park, Fla., said. "Even students that sit in the front row of the student section don't get the view that we get on the sidelines. There is nothing like it."

Like many children in Big Orange country, Knoxville, Tenn., native Alyssa Surrett spent her childhood in the bleachers of Neyland Stadium, Thompson-Boling Arena and other great UT athletics venues. For her, being part of the dance team has been a dream come true.

"I grew up here and have been coming to games all my life," Surrett said. "When I was a little girl I used to watch the dance team and think that someday I would be out there, too."

No matter the circumstances, the three-time reigning national champs are guaranteed to be together. Even after spending countless hours together in the dance studio, the women of the UT dance team never tire of each other.

"The girls on the team have been my best friends throughout my college career," senior Joanna Salmon, Peoria, Ill., said. "You never see just one of us walking around campus; there are always four or five of us. We really are a very close group."

The Tennessee dance team practiced more than 150 hours in preparation for the 2010 College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championships. On Jan. 17, they will represent the Big Orange Nation at the competition and try to fend off rival Minnesota to win their fourth-consecutive crown.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Warner University Adding Dance and Spirit Squad for 2010-11

LAKE WALES, Fla. – Warner University’s growing athletics program will add a dance and spirit squad for the 2010-11 season.

The addition will create new opportunities for dancers seeking a quality education to continue to perform at the collegiate level. Earlier this school year, the NAIA took steps toward being the first collegiate governing body to host Cheer and Dance as a National Championship sport when they named it one of their emerging sports.

The fan-friendly program should add to the excitement that the other Warner athletic programs already bring to the Warner campus and create more opportunities for involvement in the Lake Wales and surrounding area communities.

If interested, please contact Courtney Hall, the current cheerleading coach at

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Michigan Dance Team Preparing For Run At National Title

By Michael Rothstein

In a brick-lined room with blue mats on the side, the 21 women were mostly silent. Instructions and criticism from the coach cut through the still air inside the dance studio at Michigan’s Central Campus Recreation Building.

Two days remained until their departure for the only competition the University of Michigan dance team would compete in all year, nationals, an annual chance to dispel the pom-pom label and show a wider audience their skills.

They finished practice late on Tuesday night with one hip-hop routine, two minutes of sweat and flying through the air like Cirque de Soleil minus the trapeze.

Behind the easy cheers and routines performed at games, nationals are what it's all about for members of the Michigan dance team.

They are not on scholarship and usually shell out between $4,000 and 5,000 a year to participate. Some take second jobs for this. Others have sacrificed spring break because they could pay for one trip, and dance team took precedence.

All for this week.

The national championships at Disney World, where Michigan will head Thursday for this weekend’s competition, are the culmination of a year’s worth of work.

The routines are as intricate as a football play, the synchronization as critical as a race car driver hitting all of his marks along a track, the rhythm as important as tempo to a golfer striking a perfect iron.

Over and over, they work on tricks. This particular day they have been struggling with handstands and a difficult maneuver requiring two dancers to interlock arms, one to jump on another’s back and then fly into the air still attached to their partner. They jump 3-to-5 feet. All that’s missing is a skateboard or snowboard to qualify it as an extreme sport maneuver.

“That’s one thing,” 21-year-old captain Kimberly Lehnert said. “I think we’ve gotten so used to trying new tricks and trying new things that we’re not afraid to just throw ourselves. And we’ve had people get hurt.”

In that moment, as your bones and ligaments scream just watching, it’s an easy realization.

These women are athletes. No question about that.

“Say that louder,” Lehnert said.

Then she laughs.

Throwing T-Shirts into the crowd and waving the pom-poms and yelling ‘Let’s Go Blue’ is a small part of what they really do. More visible, for sure, but there’s a reason the 21 team members - only 14 compete in nationals - show up two weeks before school starts for intense two-a-day practices, complete with three hours of conditioning and technique to go with learning the actual routines from the Los Angeles-based choreographer Dee DeFillipio.

It’s because this stuff is hard. Painful. And the long hours are the only way they can improve on last year’s sixth-place finish in jazz and 11th in hip-hop.

“I’ll dance with a broken wrist,” one dancer said Tuesday night as she walked and then sat along the mirror on the far side of the studio. “It’s no big deal.”

With no trainer available and the routine and intensity growing as each week progresses toward this one, Michigan’s coach, Valerie Stead Potsos, says she averages a couple of hospital visits a year with her athletes.

Slipped discs, injured backs and in the case of the one dancer, a potential
broken wrist.

Nothing that a normal team on scholarship at school doesn’t go through.

“A lot of us have been doing this since high school, middle school,” said the team’s other 21-year-old captain, Olivia Dunn. “Back then, nobody was like ‘Oh, those are the national dance championships.’ No one cared what Kimmy did outside of school, that she won a solo competition for dance that weekend. I’m sure she didn’t walk around screaming it.

“Now that you’re at a bigger university, you wish, at times, it was more known because you hear all these other sports teams doing so well.”

Instead they settle for this: When they show up at nationals, many opposing teams marvel at how Michigan’s athletes balance intense course loads with an intense practice regimen. Dunn is going into engineering when she graduates. Lehnert is visiting a New York City law school in two weeks.

That’s for a few weeks and months from now. Right now, their concentration is placed in the wood-floored room in the CCRB with the glass wall overlooking the entrance to the facility, the one where crowds have sometimes gathered unsure what they were watching.

Inevitably, someone recognizes them as “those are the girls on the court. What are they doing,” Lehnert said.

The answer is simple. Trying to win a national championship.

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TCU Dance Team Shines At Fiesta Bowl

The TCU Dance Team definitely made an impression in front of a national television audience at the Fiesta Bowl. Below is an article on the squad from the Thaindian News and the team was featured in a photo gallery on as well.

For the full gallery, including the photo here, visit

The TCU Dance Team Added More Color To The Fiesta Bowl
By Meena Kar
Thaindian News

The crowd at the University of Phoenix Stadium was in high spirits cheering for their respective teams. The battle between the TCU and Boise State fans could be felt as there were loud cheers echoing among the gaggle of people. The TCU dance team were boisterous and backing their team. The sprightly, animated group of girls were all there to provide the needed support and encouragement to their team. The frenzied crowd were inspired by the TCU girls to add more excitement to the game.

The stadium was looking flamboyant with the purple color predominant on one side. The other side of the noisy stadium looked equally colorful in a patch of blue and orange. The young beautiful ladies of the TCU dance team added an extra aura to the Fiesta Bowl and turned out to be one of the much talked about aspect of the night’s game.

The mother of one of the three TCU girls went to the extent of buying tickets on both sides of the stadium to get a glimpse of her daughter over a wide range. She had to spend a good amount for buying the tickets though. The encouraging mother was sitting amidst the Boise fans at one point of time too, but to be able watch her daughter prancing and backing the TCU team from all possible angles.

With the presence of the TCU team, the excitement and entertainment quotient was present in equal dosage in the Fiesta Bowl. Even though TCU didn’t end the night on a winning note, the TCU dance team rather managed to carve a niche for themselves among the crowd present at the venue.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Akron Dancer is Miss Ohio Teen USA

Green resident new Miss Ohio Teen USA
By Kathleen Folkerth

GREEN — Bridget Linton is no stranger to competition.

The Green resident, who has competed internationally as an Irish dancer and now is on The University of Akron (UA) Dance Team, was crowned Miss Ohio Teen USA in October and will represent the state in national competition next summer.

Linton said she competed against more than 60 Ohio girls in the state pageant, which took place in Portsmouth.

“It didn’t really hit me until the next day that I won,” she said.

All the contestants competed in swimsuit and evening gown rounds Oct. 9. The following day, the contestants went through a round of interviews with judges, and then the field was narrowed to 15.

During the final day of competition Oct. 10, the semi-finalists competed again in swimsuit and evening gown competition before five finalists were announced. The five were asked a random question, with Linton’s being about what life lessons are learned through athletics or competition.

Linton said she had no idea the question would be about something she is so familiar with. She has been an Irish dancer since the age of 4 and has competed in the United States as well as in Ireland and Scotland, she said.

Her background as a competitive dancer helped contribute to her success at the pageant, she said.

“It taught me what hard work means,” she said. “You really have to work to be successful, so I learned I have that competition feeling inside me. It also taught me the poise and elegance you are supposed to have.”

Linton is the daughter of Kathie and Darrell Linton, a Green Middle School science teacher and track coach, and a 2009 graduate of Green High School. She is a freshman at UA and is majoring in broadcast journalism.

It wasn’t until this past year that Linton explored the world of pageants. She participated in the Queen Pageant at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton last spring and loved the experience.

“I was one of the princesses, and I got to escort (Hall of Fame inductee) Bruce Smith into the ceremony,” she said.

She looked into other pageants and found out about the Miss Ohio Teen USA program, which is a stepping stone to the Miss Teen USA pageant.

“I thought, I could do this,” she said. “It seemed like a great experience.”

She submitted an application and was named Miss Uniontown for the competition. To prepare, she worked out to stay in shape and also practiced possible interview questions with her mother, she said.

While she’s pleased with the outcome, it wasn’t all about winning, Linton stressed.

“Mainly I was just going in to have fun,” she said. “But it turned out in my favor.”

After the first of the year, Linton will begin to prepare in earnest for the national competition, which will take place at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas in late July or early August. The pageant has been televised in recent years, but Linton said the decision as to whether this year’s event will be telecast has not been decided, which is why the date is not definite yet.

The pageant provides Linton with training and transportation. She does have some required appearances around the state in 2010, and she said she’s looking forward to that.

“One thing I want to do is travel to different schools to promote pageants and tell younger kids to have self-confidence and stay true to themselves,” she said.

Linton said she is taking the year off from Irish dance competition because of the pageant, but she is working as an Irish dance instructor for the O’Hare School of Irish Dance.

“It was hard balancing both of them,” Linton said. “I decided I will take one thing at a time.”

With the UA Dance Team, Linton performs at every UA men’s and women’s basketball game. The Dance Team also is preparing for national competition this spring.

She said the pageant officials will work with her and her school schedule.

“I’m keeping busy,” she said.

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