The IC Dance Team competed at the Dance Team Union College Classic National Invitational held at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, Florida April 10th and 11th.
The team competed in the Open division of Hip-Hop with their money themed routine.
They were against six teams in the NCAA Division I, II, III,and NAIA placing 4th overall in the nation. This is the second time in Illinois College History that the team has been to a national competition, the first was in 2019 when the team competed at NDA College Nationals.
The team is Coached by Spirit Program Director, Samantha Laster. Who says she is very proud of the team despite the challenges they have run into this season. She says getting to Nationals was the driving force during an unusual season.
“I feel very successful. Our work has paid off that we’ve done this entire semester. Everyone has worked extremely hard. I felt like we did what we were supposed to do. We came out on top, we are the top four in the nation, so that is huge considering this is our second year competing. Overall that is huge and our competition that we went against was very tough. The fact that we even placed that high says a lot about our routine, the work ethic, and all of the handwork that we put into it.”
Many times throughout the season the team was unsure if they would have this chance to dance at games or compete in person. The dance team’s season started during the summer and was a mix of in-person and zoom practices.
“Practices were intense going towards nationals. We practiced for like two weeks, five days each week. We had to workout a bunch of kinks. There was a broken arm at the last minuet, we had to change basically the entire routine two weeks before nationals. They overcame that, you know little tweaks along the way. It was pretty intense. Especially we had some quarantine days where we missed out on practices where we had to be on zoom, zoom practices are not fun. We had a couple of setbacks but we pushed through it.”
Laster says she appreciates the support from the IC community that the team received while at nationals. IC Athletic Director, Mike Synder showed his support and got people excited by coordinating watch parties and updating the campus as he received reports on how the competition was going.
“ As we got closer to nationals, I felt like we had a lot of support from the school. Them organizing our watch party and people being supportive. I’ve gotten nothing but congratulations, when I see people on campus and it is surprising student athletes know who I am and have said congratulations. I had the president send me a personal email about it. My boss has been really supportive, texting and calling me while we were down there just to check in and making sure we had everything. We really fought to go to nationals because a lot of schools didn’t even go. Process and decision making, at the end of the day everyone wanted us to go. I pushed for it mainly, but we were there. I feel like we got a lot of support as it got closer to nationals, especially the week of. Coming back I’m still getting texts and congratulations and things like that.”
Other than being proud of the team Laster says she is ready for the next season and has big plans for the team and program. Two of those goals are enhancing skills, technique, and placing top three at nationals.