The Penn Competitive Dance Team qualified for state. Poms placed third and Hip-Hop placed seventh.
Junior Charlotte Jones and Sophomores Keira Schultz and Elly Brady answered questions about their state preparations, along with their thoughts, as they reflect on this past season as a whole.
What are some of the hardest things you or your team have struggled with this season, and how did you overcome them?
Jones: “Some of the hardest things I personally have struggled with this year is finding my groove and the reason it’s all worth it. With how often I’m practicing, typically 5-6 days a week, I struggle with why I do it sometimes. Every athlete has those moments and I think about how we all overcome that struggle is remembering the little kid that always wanted this for themselves and finding the reasons in the future why it will all be worth it in the end. As a team, I’m so proud to say we are such a strong group. I wouldn’t doubt anyone on our team to pull through when it matters most. We all know that we take wins as a team and losses as a team and it’s a different bond when everyone on the team has the same goals and the same mindset.”
Schultz: “Personally this season I struggled with confidence and believing in myself. I overcame this because I had to develop a positive mindset and I had my teammates around me to support me and hype me up when I needed it. It’s really a family bond and we keep each other motivated.”
Brady: “Probably the hardest thing our team faced this season was our turn section. It is incredibly hard to get all those turns together and at the same angles so not only did we have to work on it a lot at practice we also had to at home on our own.”
How are you mentally and physically preparing for state?
Jones: “I am mentally preparing for state by honestly, having tunnel vision. Eyes on the prize for the next 2 weeks and don’t let your eyes off it until it’s reached and finished. I am so beyond confident that if any team can do it, it’s ours. We’re coming for state runner up and we’re not letting up until the job is complete. Physically speaking, icing and heating areas that are sore and lifting and getting physically stronger to feel stronger and be stronger for my team. I am so excited to see this all pay off.”
Schultz: “State is our biggest competition of the season. To mentally stay healthy I have to keep that positive mindset and stay determined. We have a really good chance as state runner-up this season so as a team during practice when we’re feeling defeated, we look up at the banner in the arena and try and picture 2023 on that banner. Physically I have to keep dancing every day and keep my workouts the same really focusing on the core, arms, and legs. I also drink lots of water to stay hydrated and eat healthy foods.”
Brady: “Physically our team is working extremely hard on our technique as well at perfecting our routine. It needs to be as close as perfect as we can get it! Mentally, I have been telling myself that my team is capable of being in the top three. We have to be in the mind of winners to be them!”
What are some important lessons that you have taken from this season?
Jones: “The most important lesson I have learned from this season is that it truly takes a team. One team, one mindset, one goal. We take it week by week, comp by comp, and for every single goal we’ve set for ourselves, we all get hungry for it. Not one of us lets up until that goal is checked off of our list and I’ve never really noticed how much being a team and having that bond really does change the game.”
Schultz: “Some really important lessons I’ve learned since being on the team is always giving 100% at comps and practices, never give up no matter how hard a practice may be, and be respectful to your coach’s and teammates.”
Brady: “One important lesson I took from this season was that you could do so much through your team. One can only do so much on their own but as a team, we can lift each other up and reach our full potential.”
What are some of your favorite memories from this season/ or your favorite part about being on this team?
Jones: “Every day I see these girls and every day I make new memories with them. I think my all-time favorite memory so far was the feeling we all felt when we beat Munster for the first time in over 10 years. We made our coaches cry and we all were crying. It was truly a moment I’ll never forget. That was the moment we realized we were all capable of it and in the last 3 weeks, I’ve never seen a team work and focus so hard at practice.”
Schultz: “Some of my favorite memories are definitely the competitions. Usually, when we aren’t dancing at competitions we play games and make fun of inside jokes. Another memory from this season so far is the solo ensemble hotel staterooms because it’s relaxing and stress-free when in the hotel room with the girls, just hanging out and just having so much fun. My favorite part about being on this team is having a coach that can be tough but always believes in you and pushes you to your full potential. I also love the girls and they are basically my sisters because we spend about 7 days a week with each other.”
Brady: “My favorite memory from this season would be beating Munster for the first time this season. That was a big win for us and to do that surrounded by such a supportive and hardworking team felt amazing ”
What are some words of advice that you have for future competitive dance participants?
Jones: “If I had to give any advice for someone wanting to compete is to just go for it. You never know until you try and as physically tough as it can be, the moments and bonds you create with your teammates are the things you’ll remember. Not the pain but the happy parts of it. I promise anyone wanting to be on this team, it’s 4 years you’ll never forget”
Schultz: “Some advice I can give to future Penn dance team members is never losing confidence, always believe in yourself, always be respectful and give it your all. Even when practices get hard try and keep that positive mindset and hype each other up to give each other that motivation to always do your best.”
Brady: “The best advice I could give to a new member of the Penn dance team would be to confide in your teammates. They will be your support system through this long season and will always be by your side. Don’t forget that they will have your back no matter what!”