by Hailey Gerlach
While the Dragon dance team spends a lot of time supporting other athletes, it’s also preparing for a competition of its own.
The dance team has been a part of the athletic department since fall of 2005. Its preparing for its annual trip to the Universal Dance Association’s National Championship in Orlando, Florida. The competition takes place at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex in Disney World, Jan. 15 – 17, 2016.
As part of the team’s prep work, it’s performing at football and basketball games. In addition, they hope to compete at a local competition in West Fargo.
The team is competing at the Spirit of America competition at the Mall of America in January one week before nationals. The quick turnaround leaves the team little time to make corrections for nationals.
This year, the team’s focus is on a dance style called pom. The style uses small pom-poms and involves high energy, big jumps and strong, powerful arm movements.
“Every year, our goal at nationals is to make it to finals,” Coach Lauren Cochran said. “We are a strong pom team, and we are really shooting for that.”
Cochran said the team starts pushing practices after Christmas break.
“The team comes back for practice almost two weeks before classes start up again for second semester,” she said.
Team members practice twice a day, pushing their limits physically.
Assistant Coach Rayesha Kennedy said the last time the team made it to finals was in 2011. Every year since then, the team has come extremely close to making it to finals.
Co-captain Miranda Peterson said it puts a lot of pressure on them to do well at nationals.
“I always think high preparation, low expectation since we work so hard and always come so close to making finals,” she said.
The team also focuses on the bond between its members. Co-captain and senior Dacia Johnson said the team strives for nationals its whole season.
“We work hard to become a family, and it is very important to feel that bond while we are competing,” she said.
Johnson and Peterson said they love their team and do everything they can to support it.
“I think of myself as the glue of the team,” Peterson said.
Johnson said that she wants to know each team member individually.
“As a captain, it’s my job to be a leader for the team and also to set a good example for all the girls,” she said.
Another aspect of the team is its school spirit and involvement on campus.
“We want the crowd to be excited at football or basketball games and to show our support for the athletic department,” Cochran said.
“Our goal is to get people to be excited to be a Dragon,” Peterson said.
Not only is the team active on campus with school events, but team members are also involved in the community. Many of the women are part of other organizations, representing the Dragon Dance Team and MSUM. They also volunteer and do fundraisers throughout the season.
The coach and co-captains say they’re excited for what the rest of the season has in store for them.