Rise To The Challenge

Tigerettes place 3rd in first-ever State competition

Ayesha Khan, Design Editor

After several long years of advocating for a statewide Kansas high school dance competition, the Blue Valley dance team participated in the first annual State event Nov. 13.

“The dance team coaches across Kansas have probably been working for around 15 years, but this is the first year we’ve actively campaigned for it and got it,” co-captain senior Grace Poeschl said.

High schools across the state sent in videos of their dancers to the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) board of directors illustrating why they deserved to have a State competition. One of the dancers who submitted a video was sophomore Sophia Occhipinto.

“I feel like I’ve been fighting [to get approval] ever since I joined the team, especially toward the end [of last school year] because of the possibility that there was going to be one,” Occhipinto said.

With many other programs at Blue Valley already having a State, several of the Tigerettes felt even more passionate about receiving a competition of their own.

“We work just as hard, and we put in the hours other sports and activities do,” Poeschl said. “We’re really excited.”

Because practices were delayed until September, Occhipinto said the team had a short turnaround in terms of learning and perfecting the routine.

“It definitely put our schedule behind learning choreography and dances,” she said.

Despite these challenges, the girls were more thrilled than ever to have the chance to perform.

“I’m [glad] to know that we have a State in general, especially with coronavirus,” Occhipinto said.

Due to COVID-19 regulations, the dancers filmed themselves virtually in a single, uninterrupted three-minute video.

“Our coach, Katie Burris, set up a tripod with the camera and we let the video go continuously for the entire routine,” Poeschl said.

The routine itself consisted of three sections: fight song, band chant and a performance routine. The Tigerettes placed 3rd in 6A.

“Our parents and grandparents [were] allowed to come and support us, but that’s it,” Poeschl said.  “Everyone, [including dancers, had] to wear a mask.”

Although crowd-involvement has kept dancers motivated throughout their routines in the past, Occhipinto added no verbal chanting of any kind is allowed from the audience while recording.

Nevertheless, Poeschl and Occhipinto both found strength to overcome difficulties through their team’s motto.

“One of our mottos this year is rising to the challenge,” Occhipinto said. “That’s been keeping me motivated to know our whole team is trying to rise to the challenge with everything we’ve been facing. Knowing we’re lucky enough to be able to perform and have the opportunity is wonderful.”