I started dancing at age two. Throughout my life it has always been such a huge part of the women I have grown into today. From various types of coaches, teams, and achievements, I have experienced so many head strong, talented, and beautiful dancers throughout my life.
After spending the last decade of my life dancing for Dancer’s Edge Studio in Macomb, Michigan, I decided to tryout for my college dance team at a young age. When I make my decision to attend Central, I knew trying out for dance team was absolutely a priority to me. Well, a two-day tryout of multiple styles and combinations, an interview process, and a panel of judges later, I was officially a member of Central Michigan University’s Dance Team! From that point on, CMUDT has changed me in so many ways and has allowed me some of the greatest opportunities I could have asked for.
When each member first made the team, we were assigned “DB’s.” DB stands for Dance Buddy, which is similar to a mentor figure on the team. My DB’s name is Mckenna, and she helped me throughout the year in ways I don’t even think she realized. Mckenna and I were very similar in ways that we both didn’t always have the best experience in dance. We both knew how to push through it and keep trying our best within the year. She had always pushed me to stay committed to the team and try again even if I had a negative experience. As Mckenna is a senior and will not be returning to CMU next year, it is inspiring to see that she “survived” four whole years on the team, yet sad because she will not be as available to me in years to come.
Our season began with learning basic football sidelines cheers and dances. Every year, the girls would come up with “ditties,” which were short and easy dances that could flexibly go to popular songs and beats. Our 6 am practices twice a week at this point consisted of learning these ditties, as well as a hip hop dance to perform later on. During football season, our team was split in half into the Maroon Team and the Gold Team. I was always on the Maroon Team. The reason we split in half was to efficiently organize a way for half of our team to sell programs at the entrances to the stadium, while the other half would cheer on the sidelines for the whole game. The two teams would alternate every other game to be fair.
By the end of the game, whichever team was selling programs joined the team on the sidelines where we would all cheer together for the final quarter. Before each game our team and our family and friends got to tailgate together. In addition to one of the seniors always having a large RV with hot chocolate and snacks inside, the parents would organize who cooked what dinners for us each week. I always loved seeing my parents and my friends at tailgates and getting to spend some extra down time with my team to get to know each other. In the beginning of the year, our team would also sometimes rotate who hosted a team dinner on Thursday nights before game days where we would have each grade bring specific things like cheese or plates and it would eventually create a meal to eat together while we bonded. Our team quickly became very close and I was loving every Friday night under the lights on those sidelines. Our last football game of the season, we even got to perform a routine during a media timeout where the dance was partially recorded and put on television! Football season was over all tons of fun and a great way to start off the year.
During the Fall, with the many opportunities we were given as CMUDT members, my team and I were able to perform the hip hop dance we had been learning and cleaning at the homecoming Mock Rock assembly. Mock Rock was essentially a dance off between hall councils throughout campus and my team and I were asked to simply perform at it, rather than compete. Mock Rock was an awesome opportunity to perform on stage for the first time with my team and show the student body that we can do more than just shake our pom poms on the sidelines at football games. I loved the feeling of coming together and achieving something together so early in the season, in addition to wearing cool Central jerseys.
My team and I quickly transitioned into basketball season towards the middle of football season, as there were many more tasks as a CMUDT member during each men and women home basketball game. For basketball season, the Maroon and Gold Teams were split in accordance to our class schedules, since majority of the home basketball games were on weekday evenings. During a basketball game, the sideline dancers greet our home team, perform ditties during time outs, and do cheers in accordance to what is going on in the game. In the first and last half’s media time outs, our whole team performed a “mini,” which is a thirty second stylized routine to perform in the middle of the arena. In addition, our team performed a two minute halftime routine, following a Little Caesar’s pizza give away we would assist with after our performance. At the end of each basketball game, win or lose, CMUDT runs out in a single file line in the middle of the arena to perform the Central Michigan fight song. Basketball season was absolutely crazy with having to memorize three dances for each game. Having two to three games every week, and sometimes two games in one day was quite insanity, but it was so much fun to experience and appreciate.
Basketball season also exposed my team and I to so many thrilling opportunities to be a part of. During one of our practices for our minis and half-times, the university newspaper CM-Life joined us bright and early at 6 am to experience what it is like to be a member of our team. While interviewing our coach and captains, they made an entire video on our team about how dedicated we are to succeeding together as a team and waking up so early to put our everything into our practices. https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcmlife%2Fvideos%2F10150700375669975%2F&show_text=0&width=560” target=”_blank”>CM-Life Facebook Video
Our team also was given the opportunity to have an Alumni Day with our current team, as well as many members of teams in the past. This day started with a bright and early morning to learn the dance with the Alumni and practice until it was as perfect as it could be. We were then given a break to get ready for the double-header game day we had that day. While everything else went as usual for my team and I, our halftime performance was where our special guests came into play. Alumni Day was such an amusing and really entertaining experience to go through with my team, and with the members of teams in the past that we got to get to know throughout the day.
Similarly to Alumni Day, CMUDT had their annual Valentine’s Day Guy/Girl Routine. This experience was so much fun, dancing with our friends, boyfriends, or whatever guy anyone picked. Since my boyfriend was unable to attend due to class schedule confliction, my partner was one of my good friends from LAS, Jake Eaton. For this dance, everyone started dancing with their partners, followed by us girls dancing as a team to one of our hip hop minis. The guys then got to show off their own moves before coming back all together with the group for some lifts and the finale. Although I was out of town for work during the the practices that weekend for the routine, what made the experience the most fun was how much the partners got into their performance. Watching them stress over what counts were when and where there hand placements should be was absolutely amazing and made me laugh many times throughout the process. Guy/Girl Dance was a ton of fun and was a very entertaining performance to watch!
One of the last games of basketball season was our annual Kid’s Clinic. This day was ran a bit differently from the others. Starting off the early Saturday, my team and I were told to greet the participants and play kid-friendly music. While some helped with registration information, others were able to greet as many participants as possible and make them feel a bit more comfortable with leaving their parents for the time they would spend with us. With ages ranging from about 6-14, members of our team were split up into groups based on their age ranges. I of course was interested in working with the youngest age group and had a blast with them all day. After spending hours of learning and running the dance, we were given snack breaks and lunch breaks to let them get their energy out. We even played a few games that I learned at leadership conferences to get them to concentrate on something. After spending the morning with them, we performed at halftime with them while all of the parents watched and cheered us on. Having the Kids Clinic that weekend made me realize just how much I love working with kids, regardless of what career path I choose. Those little girls looked up to me in so many aspects of my life simply because I was a member of a collegiate dance team. Making the best of their time spent with us was a rewarding feeling at the end of the day.
As basketball games came to an end, our team was focused on the dance that we learned that January from a choreographer to compete with at nationals. For the last however many years, our team has always competed in Daytona, Florida for the National Dance Association in the beginning of April. This year, a brand new competition was an option for us from Dance Team Union in Las Vegas, Nevada. This meant that our team had to take it to a whole new level. In years past, the nationals dance has been limited to a certain amount of dancers competing at the competition, leaving the remainder of the team as alternates. Although there was not a restriction on the number of competitors this year, there were in fact alternates on the team. In fact, I was one of them. As discouraging as it was to go to practices and practice the dance I knew I wouldn’t be competing in, it was always exciting to see those on my team succeed in their improvements and come together as a team.
With various factors for my reasoning, I did decide to unfortunately resign from the team with a few weeks notice before the competition. As hard of a decision as this was for me, I found it made most sense financially and time-management wise. Since the only obligation left on the team was attending nationals for me just in case of an injury, I finished off my freshmen year without dancing, and studying hard for my exams those last few weeks. As difficult as it was to give up dance, something that has been a part of me since the age of two, I found it in myself to strive for the many other passions and successions I would like to achieve throughout my life. I am proud to say that I was a member of Central Michigan University’s dance team 2016-2017 as a freshmen, and I am so overjoyed to announce tat they received third place in the nation while they were down in Vegas this Spring. The journey was well worth every 6 am practice, football game, performance, basketball game, and so much more. Getting the chance to dance along side of some of my closest friends that helped me through such a huge part of my transition to college has been some of the best days of my life. I am sad to give up dance, but I am so excited to see what the future has in store for me, and what it has in store for the team in years to come!