Growing up, I was an ambitious child who wanted to find what her passion was at a very young age. I was constantly active, always outside being adventurous and trying out some sports from soccer, softball, ice skating, to basketball. I actually played softball and basketball for four years and was the point guard for my middle school team while I danced. Who knew the day when I was five years old when I slipped on those tiny, pink ballet shoes with my black, suffocating leotard would change my life forever and develop the person I am today. Dance became a part of me. Countless hours spent in the studio, watching the mirrors fog up from the dozens of dancers crammed into one small room is the drive that I constantly craved on a daily basis. For the first few years, I danced at Raedene’s Dancin Stars Studio until I decided to start fresh and move to Suzette’s Masters of Dance. The number I sacrifices I made to step onto that performance stage at a competition with the bright lights shining right on me to dance in front of a crowd of hundreds of people felt like my place to be. As my dancing became excelled and more advanced, I decided to tryout for my high school’s dance team as a freshman. I gratefully made my school’s varsity dance team as a tiny freshman which felt like the biggest accomplishment since usually only 2-3 freshies make it.
Throughout my four years on the Varsity Dance Team and becoming the team captain for three years, I knew my biggest goal was to become a college dancer. In May 2016, the morning after my senior prom, I drove up to Mt. Pleasant to tryout for the Central Michigan University Dance Team. After countless hours of a two day tryout, filled with skilled combinations, an interview, and performance in front of an endless line of judges, I was so proud to say I made the CMU Dance Team as a freshman.
This next chapter in my life began in August right before my freshman year of college begun. We were first assigned Dance Buddies or also known as “DB’s”. These were old members on the team assigned to a new member as guidance or a mentor to help the newbies adjust to the life of a college dancer. My Dance Buddy was Sam Schwemin, she is a senior and a fourth year member of the team. I was so thankful to have Sam as a DB since she welcomed me onto the team with open arms and was always there to pick me up for practice or if I needed a hand.
With being a college athlete, Dance Team was one of the biggest commitments I had to face and make many of sacrifices. Practice was Tuesdays-Thursdays from 6-7:30 AM. Yes, 6 in the morning. If you know me, you know I am most definitely NOT a morning person. This was a struggle every single night when I had to keep myself from cringing when I set my alarms every night for 5:15am. But I realized after every morning practice I felt accomplished and had the entire today to get all of my stuff done.
With the season starting, we were required to learn numerous football sideline routines and cheers to perform for the upcoming football season. I was so excited to step onto that field doing what I love. The one practice I will never forget was the very first time I stepped onto that field for our “mock” gameday practice. Walking onto that turf, looking around the cereal bowl stadium, I finally embraced the moment I was searching for my entire life; I finally felt like I accomplished my goal. When football season began, our team was split up into two teams; Maroon and Gold. This was to have half of the team sell programs during the first half of the game, while the other stayed on the field the entire time. After halftime, both teams reunited on the field to finish performing the rest of the game. What a rush dancing in front of thousands was, those moments were truly unforgettable. At our final game, it was nationally televised and we got to perform a halftime routine during a media timeout. We got to be on TV in front of millions performing what we love to do! It was so exciting see myself on national TV.
Football Season 2016:
Fall was definitely a busy time for the CMU Dance Team. We were required to make appearances at the CMU and You Day for incoming freshman, as well as the Homecoming Mock Rock Pep Rally. This was such a fun time for our team and were given many service opportunities through this time in the Fall.
Once football season and the fall festivities were coming to a close, we had to quickly transition to Basketball Season. This was the point in the season where practices got super busy and we had to cram as much as we could at each morning practice. For basketball season, we performed at every single Men’s and Women’s Home Game. This was a big task to take on for each member on the team and we had to work around our class schedules to make sure every basketball ball game was crowd appealing. Each game, we danced on the sidelines including two 30 second routines and a 2 minute half time. Through the countless halftimes and mini routines, we got to host an Alumni Day dance where alumni members of the dance team were invited back to perform a halftime routine with us, a Kid’s Clinic, as well as a Guy-Girl Dance on Valentine’s Day. This was a special yet fun day for my boyfriend and I to do since we got to be ourselves and I surprisingly realized that my boyfriend Josh can bust a move. (My coach seriously wants to recruit him). It was such a fun and entertaining routine and was a great memory to have forever. Near the end of Basketball Season, 12 girls on the team as well as myself were invited to Travel with the team to Cleveland, Ohio with the Women’s basketball team for the MAC Tournament. This was so exciting that I was going to be performing at the Quicken Loans Arena in front of thousands while cheering for our team. Although our trip shortly came to an end, it was a great opportunity for myself to experience since not many people can say they danced in a professional Basketball Arena where the Cleveland Cavaliers play!
Next, was the final stretch of the season. In January, it became straight beast mode. We had to learn our Nationals Routine in order to compete in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Dance Team Union College Classic where it was held at Mandalay Bay Resort. We learned our two-minute routine within two-days, with the last day being tryouts for a spot on the Nationals Team. Thankfully, through all of my hard work I did within those two days with a total of 20 hours of practice which is probably not healthy since I got the stomach flu the day after it was over, I proved to my coaches that I deserved a spot on the team. I was proud to say I made the Nationals team and will performing with most of my team on a Vegas Stage. Although there were alternates on our team, we still had to come together as one at the end of the day and work our absolute hardest for our goal. Make top 3 at Nationals. Through the many bumps in the road, countless hours filled with blood, sweat, bruises in places bruises should not be, lots of tears, going through icy hot like water, having to sacrifice my Sundays for practices every weekend from 8-12, having four girls quit the team, 6 am practices slowly turning into 5:30 am practices, almost breaking my nose and pulling every muscle in my body, the work was going to be worth it. The CMU Dance Team was more than ready to travel to Las Vegas, Nevada.
As we arrived to Vegas, we were ready to show the judges what we have been working for. I have never been on the West Coast before and I was so excited to sight see and compete on a College Nationals Stage. The competition was a two-day process, the first day was Preliminaries and the second day was Finals. We competed against other Division 1A schools, like Brigham Young University and San Diego State. After the countless hours of ballroom practice, listening to our song “Dirty Diana” on repeat, I am so proud to say we gave it our all on that stage and placed 3rd in the nation! I was extremely proud to be able to perform my heart out on that stage.
Through the constant complaints, the brutal 6am practices, football season, basketball season, and service opportunities, I am so thankful that I made this decision to be a part of the CMU dance team. Not only did my technique and dancing was improving, I was learning that my body is physically and mentally capable of being pushed past my limits that I thought I couldn’t bare. I met some of my best friends on this team that I will forever cherish as the one’s who made this such a great transition into college. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given as a member of this team and I am so excited to see where this will take me. Thank you Central Michigan University Dance Team.
Community Service Opportunities:
- Appearances at CMU and You Day, Homecoming at Mock Rock Pep Rally
- Sold Programs at three football Game for the first 2 hours each: 6 hours total
- Sold Programs at three basketball games: 6 hours
- Volunteered and taught children ages 4-14 at a Kid’s Clinic for our team following a halftime performance: 5 hours