The West High dance team placed 8th in pom and 15th in jazz at the National Dance Team Championship in Florida on Feb. 4-5. “Dare to be Different” was this season’s slogan for the West High Poms.
“Our vision for this year was to be a team that brought new and innovative ideas to the competition, both choreography related and costume related,” said Coach Katie Melloy. “We wanted to be something nobody has ever seen before.”
And that is exactly how they performed.
“Each year we practice our routines to get them to be perfect. If we can reach our goal of perfecting our routine in its entirety then we usually have a great shot at placing high,” Melloy said. “This year we have done a great job of perfecting the dances. It helps just having three new members because everyone else has done this before and understands the process and work ethic.”
This year was the second year in a row that the team has qualified for Nationals, and the dancers agreed that the second time’s the charm.
“This year is more exciting, because we have been there before and we know what to expect,” said Kiara Mitchel ’14.
“The second time is better because we still get nervous but we are not going in blind,” said Maddie Vernon ’12.
The team practices five to seven times a week at an average of three hours per day. In practices they warm up, work on technique, clean their choreography, and watch videos to analyze both their competition and themselves.
“The attitude is always positive and everyone is always excited. This year we are a bit more competitive since we have had such a successful season,” Melloy said. The West High Poms placed first in their pom routine and second in their jazz routine at the State competition in December.
“Our motivation is knowing we have the potential to do so well; we don’t want to waste what our team has this year,” Vernon said.
“The experience is amazing… competing against the best teams in the country after working so hard together all year is just amazing” Vernon said.
No matter what happens, the experience strengthened the team. “We remain realistic as we know that many teams we are up against have been placing in the top ten for over ten years. This is only our second year ever competing at Nationals, so just making finals [was] a huge honor,” Melloy said.