College Dance Team Central

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Solid Gold: UNI Dance Team Brings Home National Title

By AMIE STEFFEN, amie.steffen@wcfcourier.com
Photo: MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor
WCFCourier.com

CEDAR FALLS - The next time you check out a University of Northern Iowa basketball game, take heart knowing you're watching champions perform.

Not necessarily the women's or men's basketball teams - although the season's not over yet.

Nope, it's the team waving pompoms, doing complicated dance routines and smiling the whole time.

UNI dance team members just came back from a weekend in sunny Orlando, Fla., with a big trophy and gold medals around their necks for winning first in the nation among collegiate dance teams in the pom division.

"Lots of tears" is how UNI junior Emily Hauser describes the squad's feeling after its name was announced as the champion at the Universal Dance Association College Nationals two weeks ago.

It was the first time in school history that the UNI dance team has claimed a national title.

The highest the team had ever gotten at nationals was fifth place, said squad adviser and recent UNI grad Jessica Fuller.

Videos of the team on UDA's Web site show the 14 student-athletes rapidly work their two-minute routine with precision.

They also entered the jazz division, where they placed eighth overall.

"People say, ‘How do you get first and eighth?' It's a completely different style," senior Amanda Miller said. "(Nationals are) continuously getting harder and harder. Our goal is to excel in our team as best we can."

Though Fuller handles administrative aspects of the squad, the women on the team choreograph and practice on their own.

Some months, Miller said, that means practicing 30 to 40 hours per week - all for routines that amount to no more than a couple of minutes during a football or basketball game or wrestling match.

They credit that work ethic for their win in Orlando.

"We told the girls, ‘This isn't going to be handed to us,'" senior Holli Rutherford said.

Qualifying for the UDA College Nationals at a camp last summer, the squad also elected to send in a tape. It was rewarded with an all-expenses paid trip.

Once there, the dance team ran away with the pom championship, besting the second place team by 60 points - "which is unheard of," Miller said.

"We really overcame our division," she said. "Hopefully, the division gets better and better."

The team was honored for its accomplishment during a break in play at Wednesday night's men's basketball game against Drake.

College Prep Clinic
The team will host a College Prep Clinic Feb. 20.
The open clinic is designed to get people familiar with what a college dance squad does and try some routines.
For more information, e-mail uni-dance@uni.edu.

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