By Sarah Schmidt, Current Staff
Despite many obstacles, the varsity dance teams for West Bend East and West High have earned trips to a state competition.
Both teams competed at the Wisconsin Association of Cheer/Pom Coaches Eastern Regionals on Jan. 29 in Kaukauna. East got a state bid for both D2 Kick and D2 Jazz, and West got a state bid for D3 Pom. West junior Rachel Hopper and East ninth grader Aubrey Turcotte will compete for the D2 All-State team as soloists.
The East and West teams will compete Saturday at the WACPC State Competition in La Crosse.
Last year, the teams had to compete virtually, and in-person competitions looked very different. This year’s season came with its own unique challenges.
Half of the East team were ninth graders, so it was essentially a brand new team. Finding space to practice also proved difficult.
“A challenge the East dance team faces this season, and many seasons prior to this season, is gym space,” East senior Mikayla Craighead said. “Most practices were in hallways or cafeterias.”
The West team also had challenges throughout their season.
“Some challenges the team had to overcome was people being quarantined, injuries, and learning routines at home or a week before competitions,” sophomore Olivia O’Connor said.
West also changed divisions in some of their routines, so they were competing against teams they had never seen before.
Despite the difficulties thrown at both teams, the dancers were able to rise to the challenge and have very successful seasons.
“I think this season was stressful, but it paid off by going to state,” East ninth grader Mikayla Schroeder said.
O’Connor says that last season’s all-virtual design was unusual.
“Last year was just a weird season in general,” she said. “We had no normal competitions, football or basketball games, and school activities.”
For many of these girls, having an in-person state competition will be a new experience. West coach Amanda Morder says that this year will have a completely different feeling than having a virtual state.
“I just feel like it’s more special and more rewarding,” Morder said.
(Top image: West Bend East Dance performs their kick routine at a basketball game. Photo courtesy of Peggy Schmidt.)