West High Poms place in the top 10 at UDA Nationals

The West High Poms placed 9th for Game Day and 19th for Pom at UDA Nationals from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.

The+West+High+Poms+at+UDA+Nationals+on+Jan.+31%2C+where+they+placed+in+the+top+10+in+the+nation.+

Kathleen Fallon

The West High Poms at UDA Nationals on Jan. 31, where they placed in the top 10 in the nation.

Camille Gretter, WSS Intern

There is no better feeling for a high school dancer than performing in front of the castle at the Universal Dance Association (UDA) Nationals. The West High Poms, were able to have that experience this last week.

Unlike most high school sports teams, the Poms’ competition season is year-round. The team has been practicing since April and competing since the beginning of the school year. Everything they do during practice and competitions leads up to UDA Nationals, which takes place in Orlando, Florida. 

For some younger dancers, like Ava Waddilove ‘23 and Paige Albright ‘23, this was their first time dancing at the national level, and their first time experiencing the adrenaline of performing in front of the Disney castle, which can only be done when a team advances to finals. For team captain Chloe Gretter ‘20, this experience wasn’t new, as she has been to Nationals all four years of her dance team career. 

Nationals is my favorite part of the season. Not only do we get to showcase our hard work from the previous months, but we also get to spend a lot of time together as a team—which is the best way to end our season, especially my senior year.”

— Chloe Gretter '20

“Nationals is my favorite part of the season. Not only do we get to showcase our hard work from the previous months, but we also get to spend a lot of time together as a team— which is the best way to end our season, especially my senior year,” Gretter said.

Although the competition technically started on Friday, Jan. 31, the work really started in July when the team attended the annual UDA camp. At camp, the girls are placed in different groups that will eventually perform a dance on the last day. While performing, judges inspect each girl’s understanding of the dance and their technique. If these things meet expectations, the girls receive a blue ribbon. If every teammate gets one, they qualify for the national competition. 

Ever since the UDA camp, the team has been putting in tremendous amounts of work in order to perfect their three dances: Game Day, Pom, and Jazz. All of this hard work is what got the team through the preliminaries, which took place on Jan. 31. 

Even though the girls were only running on a couple of hours of sleep, they still impressed the judges and qualified for semifinals in Jazz, Pom and finals in Game Day. Semifinals for Jazz and Pom took place on Feb. 1, as would Game Day finals. 

Kathleen Fallon
The West High Poms doing a pre-performance ritual at UDA Nationals 2020.

Although the competition was very fierce, the team fought through and placed 9th in the nation for the Game Day category. They also competed in the Jazz and Pom category and ended up advancing to finals for Pom. 

Sunday, Feb. 2, was the biggest day of the national competition, and possibly the entire season. The day of finals was the day to go all out. If a team wanted to change their hair or makeup to something crazy, this was when they did it. Dances were modified so that everything could look exactly the way the judges wanted them to. With some small changes to their dance, and fierce hair and makeup, they were ready to dominate in front of the castle.

After a long day of practice, West performed for the final time that weekend. Amid loud cheering from family and friends, the team’s final dance was certainly one to remember. They placed an impressive 19th in the nation, amongst some of the toughest competition in the U.S.

Even though their competitive season may be over, you can catch the team performing the annual “Guy-Girl” dance during halftime at a West vs. Liberty double-header on Feb. 14.