By Caitlyn Virgillito
This summer from July 27 to July 30, the Marian dance team spent four days at UDA Dance Camp along with 20 other teams from Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. The girls were up and dancing from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day learning and perfecting routines, taking master classes, practicing military drill downs, participating in team bonding activities and downing the occasional Red Bull.
The routines they learn on the first day are evaluated on the final day in front of the entire camp; each dancer is awarded with either a blue (the highest), red or white ribbon (the lowest). Each Marian dancer scored a blue ribbon, which allows the select team to compete at nationals this year. “I think our whole team was very excited when we all received blue ribbons because it showed how much our hard work had paid off,” Lexi Ketcham ‘21 said. Six seniors on the team Joey Carollo, Lily Blake, Jenna Grote, Madison Bezousek, Alivia Hebenstreit, and Sophie Hassenstab also learned an additional routine, and all were awarded an All-American title.
The Marian dance team takes part in this camp every summer, but this year was different. There was no coach and no elected captains yet. The team was uncertain how camp would go without a coach. “Although I went into camp nervous because of the coach situation, once I got there I realized that there was nothing to worry about, because the seniors had everything under control,” Melina Piperis ‘22 said. Marian wanted to take their time to hire the most qualified coach, even if it meant sacrificing a camp.
The girls wouldn’t have been able to accomplish so much without the dedication and leadership from the seniors on the team. The seniors had to step up and guide the new team through camp without a coach. “I thought camp was going to be very difficult without a coach, but all of the seniors took charge to help make it a successful camp,” Ketcham said. The seniors evaluated all of the team’s routines, and they made sure all of the dancers knew what was going on and what was expected of them. “I’m really thankful for the seniors, because instead of being negative about the situation, they helped us to laugh it off and focus on what was really important: the dancing,” Piperis said.
The dance team has an exciting season ahead with new members and new coaches, Kelli Butler and Marian alumni Kristyn Kocsis ‘09. The team is looking forward to performing at Marian and Prep games, competing at nationals and growing closer with their teammates this year.