With winter break now over, the Keene State College campus returns to the bustle of regular day life. However, the hard work seen through the KSC sports teams continued through break and gave way to great success.
The KSC Dance team ventured to Florida on Jan. 10 to participate in the Disney Universal Dance Association (UDA) National Dance Team Championship. The team stayed in Florida for a span of five days, performing Friday through Sunday at the championship. Not only did the KSC dance team show remarkable skill, but they also became national finalists in the UDA championship, breaking KSC history. With an amazing performance, the team finished on a high in the championships, placing eighth out of the entire nation.
KSC dance team captain and senior Jessica Leone described being eighth in the nation as “a great feeling.” Leone went on to say that it was amazing to know they competed against 22 teams, 11 of them making it to the finals, and that they came out as eighth. “We made Keene State history, placing higher than we ever have and also getting the highest score we have ever received,” added Leone. With so much work and dedication seen throughout the season and especially winter break, Leone said the feeling of success was “indescribable.” As captain, Leone especially focuses on the well-being of the team and works to make sure everyone is working their hardest. “A lot of work went into getting us not only to the nationals itself, but also accomplishing eighth. This year though we had by far one of the best group of girls I have ever been on the team with,” Leone said.
Co-captain and junior Lauren Carney said that placing eighth in nation was the best feeling in the world. “Being the only team at the competition without a coach and being completely student-run makes it even that much more of an honor that we not only place at finals, but that we got eighth in the nation,” said Carney. She added that the feeling she had when they announced their name was simply indescribable. Carney admitted that the road to Florida was nothing but hard work, time and a lot of energy. Having to do numerous fundraisers to earn the money the team needed, as well as pay out of pocket for costumes and other expenses, Carney said it was a lot of hard work but worth it. “We care so much and would do anything to go to this competition and represent our school in a positive light, which is exactly what we did,” added Carney. All that hard work has really created a true bond within the team Carney said., “Dancing together allows us to have a place to feel loved and included and we are constantly growing as dancers and women.”
Secretary and junior Kelsey Walsh agreed with her fellow teammates, saying it is an amazing feeling to place eighth in the nation. “To outsiders, it’s hard to see the difficulty that went into not only performing the dance, but also getting the team to the competition,” said Walsh. “With money problems and other things throughout this past semester, it made it almost impossible for us to reach the team goal of competing,” said Walsh, but with the help of the amazing team and amazing e-board, the dance team pulled it off. On top of all the hard work, Walsh praised her team for the incredible support system they are. “We cheer each other on in practice, as well as attend each other’s events outside of dance throughout the year,” said Walsh.
First-year Ashley Chopelas said that it feels amazing to be a part of such a strong and hard working team, especially in her first year of college. “I’ve known about the Keene State Dance team since middle school and I’ve wanted to be on it since then. Now being on it and being so successful and accomplished is just indescribable,” said Chopelas. Chopelas said that the captain, co-captain, secretary and manager all worked so hard; and thankfully it all worked out in their favor. “The dance team can only go up from here. We hope to get more recognition and support from the school in the year to come,”Chopelas said.
However with great success came hard work and dedication. With the dance teams funds cut in half and with no fundraising help from the college, the team set out to fundraise for their Disney trip, raising $10,000 dollars all by themselves. “We made Keene history by fundraising $10,000 dollars ourselves, which is just another huge accomplishment in our book,” said Chopelas. Captain Leone said, “Since we are considered a club and not a sport like most college dance teams going to this competition, we had to raise all the money ourselves. We raised $10,000 on our own, which is the highest we have ever raised and the most raised by a KSC club.” Walsh said. “The team is an incredible support system. We practiced for four days a week, as well as came back a week before leaving for nationals. We practice early morning to late at night. Each team member knew how difficult it was for us to reach our goal of attending nationals.”
With such perseverance, the KSC dance team came out on top, placing eighth in the nation out of 22 elite teams. With hopes for the near future, the team looks to keep growing and to receive more support from the KSC community. “We work really hard and are so successful and it’d be nice for people to recognize that,” Chopelas said.
Caroline Perry can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org