It’s your first SJU basketball game at half time. Twelve girls in black sweat suits come on the middle of the floor in Hagan. The song Panda comes on and all of the sudden you’re mesmerized. How do they move like that together? Did they just spin on their heads?
I’ve heard a number of people say that the SJU Dance Team is the sole reason that they go to the basketball games. People just leave right after half time. But I don’t blame them. The SJU D1 Division Dance Team is FIERCE and their talent blows everyone away.
You hear so much about the Dance Team – mostly regarding their serious time commitment. I sat down with freshman Jill Wright and asked her about her first year experience of being on the dance team.
How much time do you spend practicing? Did the time commitment surprise you and was balancing dance and school work tough?
– First semester was really busy because we were preparing for Nationals over Winter Break. We had four hour practices Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday plus hour workouts twice a week. They added another four-hour practice on Sundays when we got closer to the date of Nationals. Our coaches were easier on us freshman because they knew it was a tough transition and all of the upperclassmen were really supportive of us.
– The vigorous practice schedule was a little surprising because we didn’t compete as much when we danced in our studios in high school. But we began over the summer, so we were ready for what was to come in the Fall. The trickiest part was learning all of the tricks – we didn’t know how to spin on our heads before trying out because we were all technical dancers. But practice made perfect.
It is a lot of pressure to do well at the games? Is it a big deal if you mess up?
– It’s not a big deal if we mess up – we all mess up all the time, but we all laugh about it. We have little jitters because we want to look awesome in front of all of our peers. We watch videos afterward to see what looks good and what needs to be changed. But our coaches are awesome and so supportive. They aren’t crazy towards us if we mess up.
Are you guys all really close since you spend so much time together?
– Oh yeah. They’re my best friends because we spend 4-6 days a week together. If were not practicing together, then were eating together before or afterward. It’s low key a sorority but a lot more close knit because our team is so small.
You guys got third at Nationals. How was that?
– It was amazing, I couldn’t compete because three days before we left for Disney I tore my ACL doing one of the lifts. When I was at the doctors the next two days, the team was practicing vigorously to rearrange everything. Although I couldn’t perform with them, they were so cool and supportive about it and they were still able to get third place in the D1 Division.
– Colleen Duddy
Photos courtesy of Jillian Wright