Now that pep rallies and football season are over, the Sky Dancers are now focused on getting ready for competition season. Every year they go to two regional competitions, and every other year they go to a national competition. They perform three competition routines, jazz, pom, and military. They learn these routines during football season and then tryout for a spot in each dance before Winter break.
“Football and competition season are polar opposites. We are merely an extension of the fan section. We are not the main focus, and our dances are not as difficult.” Captain Hayes Harkins says about the differences between competition and football season. “Competition is where we must show how talented we are, and we’re in direct competition with other teams.”
Along with practicing everyday at 7:30 a.m. before school, they have also added extra practices after school on Mondays and Wednesday. They use the extra practice to prepare for upcoming performances.
“Each practice the dances get closer and closer to the level they need to be for our first competition.” Sky Dancer director Lindsey Harris said.
The Sky Dancers performed at halftime at the basketball games so they can used to performing in front of a crowd. On January 23rd, the Sky Dancers performed their competition jazz at the varsity boys basketball games and on January 26th, they performed their Speed Racer themed pom routine at the varsity girls basketball game.
Their first competition this year will be on February 10th at Independence High School. At each competition the Sky Dancers will be going against teams in their category, as well as 30 to 40 teams for the overall title. Last year, the Sky Dancers won overall Grand Champions at their first competition.
“You’re just so nervous before, so when you step out your adrenaline is so high, I just can’t even explain it.” Spirit Leader Kate Van Leeuwen said about competition season.
The Sky Dancers also won in 2016 and hope to win Overall Grand Champions again this year. “We have trained extremely hard. We’ve put a lot of hours and sweat into these routines. I hope for for high scores and high placement, that is always a very rewarding payoff.” Harkins said.
“I think we are in a really good spot right now. Wednesday’s Showcase will be a really good meter to see how we do under pressure of a performance.” Harris said about the upcoming competition. “We definitely have things to keep working on and tweaking, but overall, they are ready and going to do great.”
There are 19 new members on the team year and 7 of them are freshman, some of them have come from studio dance backgrounds, but have never been to a drill team competition before. “Going into competition season, I’m excited to perform our dances and the adrenaline rush from performing in front of a crowd. I feel a little prepared because I have been to dance competitions before, but I’m nervous because I know it’ll be a little different.” Freshman Lydia Feemster said.
Along with the freshman that are just starting their competition life with the Sky Dancers, there are Seniors that are going into their last competition season with the Sky Dancers. “This sport has been apart of my life since I was 3 years old. I’ve dedicated 15 years to competitions and training, I want to end on a high note. I hope to feel like I couldn’t have done any better, and that I didn’t hold back on the floor.” The Sky Dancer captain explained.
Usually, the Sky Dancers compete at a national competition every other year. Even though they competed at nationals last year, Mrs. Harris changed her mind and decided that they would go to a national competition again this year. “This team is just so talented, I want them to have every opportunity to show their talent, to grow and feel pride in themselves. While winning Nationals is a goal we all have, just being able to work that long is an accomplishment.”
One thing that the Sky Dancers all agree on is that even though practices can get tough sometimes, all the hard work is worth it when they step out onto the field or the gym floor and hear the screams of the crowd and putting a great and clean performance on the floor and have fun while they’re doing it. “It’s the best feeling ever when you walk off the floor and you know you just killed it. When we walked out of the judges view and we’re all jumping up and down, because we know what we put on the floor was really good.” Junior and third year member Aliya Johnston said.
Although putting your all onto the floor and win awards is a big part about competition, captain Hayes Harkins says that is not her favorite part about competitions. “The best thing about competition season is the team bonding. There is something special about all of the team members coming together and supporting one another. That is magical. People from all walks of life, whether you don’t necessarily get along with one another, or you don’t know them very well, everyone supports one another and gives encouragement. It really does bind everyone, we become one unit, working towards one goal.”