Inch by inch

Dance team makes history by winning Nationals

Rachel Holt, Staff Writer

     Tights? Check. Hairspray? Check. Leotards? Check. National Championship title? DOUBLE check. The dance team checked off their to-do list one gold at a time at this year’s UDA’s National Dance Competition and returned home from Orlando, Florida with not one but two National Championship titles.

     The girls won the National Championship title in Large Varsity Jazz on Feb. 2 and then turned around the very next day to claim gold in the Large Pom division.

     “The first time we were announced National Champions it was unreal. It was like everything had just come true. But then the second time, we won in Pom, and it was a feeling no words could describe. To me, it was the absolute best feeling ever,” senior Carli Rush said.

     The dance team has made it to nationals for the past 11 years, but they have never won a National Title until this year. Now, they have claimed two within one weekend.

     “Winning at Nationals is something that us coaches and the dance team have been working toward for years. The fact that it happened not once, but twice is absolutely incredible.” coach Mila O’Brien said. “So much hard work, sacrifice, and love went into these victories and seeing the reaction of our team and all of the parents, alumni, and our friends is just a testament to how special these National Titles are!”

     The team has been working on their dance routines for the past several months, starting their Pom dance at the end of August and their Jazz dance at the beginning of September. The girls have pushed themselves every day, striving for perfection, and they took that same drive and determination with them into Nationals.

     “We are driven by the feeling you get when you come off of the National’s floor knowing that you did everything possible to leave an amazing performance out there,” senior Michelle Morford said. “Another huge factor is our immensely motivating coaches and their unending support.”

     During the year, before every performance, the dance team listened to Al Pacino’s Inch speech from the movie “Any Given Sunday” as a means of motivation. It became their motto all season long, and it carried on with them to Nationals.

     “Throughout our whole season, our goal was to keep earning inches. Winning regionals, that’s an inch. A perfect performance at a basketball game, that’s another inch,” Rush said. “And another inch is these white jackets that we finally got. That’s our final inch.”