By Tara Higgins
Photos by Bethany Eveleth
Competitive dance is one of the more involved sports for the 29 girls on this year’s Poms teams. Last year’s line-up won twelfth at the State competition and earned a bid to Nationals. This year’s Poms team will have to work even harder to achieve Varsity Coach Kelly McManus’ goal of making the top 10 at this year’s State event in December. “We want to do better than last year,” McManus said.
Last year, Poms introduced its first ever Junior Varsity team, and it was also the first year team captains were elected to head the team and organize the competitions and events. “Captains are chosen based on seniority, dedication to the team, organization, reliability, helpfulness . . . The girls all vote on who they would like as their Captain, and then the coaches have the final say,” said JV coach Anna Smith. “They are so helpful!”
A JV team was added because of the increase in the number of girls who tried out. Having so many girls is a huge advantage. “It is great having a big team. Hopefully we will grow even more next year too,” Smith said. “It makes it way easier, so many more options with more girls. We are loving it!”
Varsity captains are seniors Megan Clayton and Jori Reed, while JV team captains are senior Liz Anthony and sophomores Payton Caldarella and Tyler Swick. Their tasks include keeping more girls under control than ever before. But it also means the teams can have more organization, according to Anthony.
The new school year will bring several new obstacles both teams will have to face. Both are expanding and adding new team members. JV had only nine members last year and they now have 14, but Varsity expanded even more, adding four new spots. Many girls have also moved up from last year’s JV to this year’s Varsity. The dance experience they earned from JV improved their dancing and made it easier for them to compete at Varsity level. Although they all agree it’s harder, there are more things they can do, including an increase in dances, competitions, and practice time.
As the teams expand, so do the advantages. Because there are more girls, both teams can choreograph dances where everyone can have more fun. “We get to try new formations,” said Clayton. “It’s different because we can have more fun with it.”
Returning team members must now be involved in a strict workout routine that was not required last year. “Every Monday we do an hour of crossfit,” said Varsity team member, senior Nidia Lopez. “We run every day, [but] it pays off. It’s a tough workout.”
But there are also a lot of challenges. “[We have] a lot of girls who have never competed before,” said McManus.
There is no lack of talent, though. There are many experienced dancers on the teams. Varsity captain Clayton has been on the Poms teams since her freshman year. Even though not all of the team members have been part of Poms teams before, they have all danced before.
“I’ve been dancing since I was three,” said Varsity member sophomore Mandy Martin.
Her teammate, senior Morgan Niemann, has been a dancer for 12 years. “This year I just wanted to keep doing it because I love dancing,” Niemann said. “It’s super fun.”
Both teams are preparing for their next big events. Varsity is currently working on their competition jazz dance for State at the Denver Coliseum. The also have a League event in November and Nationals are being held in Florida in February 2014.