Varsity dance team looks for success on a national scale this season


The varsity dance team enters the 2019 competitive season with plenty of talent and leadership on the heels of an extremely successful string of competitions last year. The Lady Rangers placed at every competition, while placing first multiple times in their three pieces: jazz, hip hop, and pom. Jazz was arguably FHC’s strongest category, as they won Grand Champs with that dance at a  competition by earning the highest score out of all dances competing that day.

“Last season, we were very proud of our overall placement at the regional competitions,” senior co-captain Lindsey Lunt said, “especially when we won Grand Champs at the St. John’s Invitational.”

While the dancers perform after the first quarter at home football games and at halftime of home basketball games, they also compete in a series of competitions throughout the winter.

“Dancing at football and basketball games helps get the confidence up of the team,” senior co-captain Alyssa Zadel said. “Basketball games are very helpful because they’re during our competitive season, so we will often complete our dances on Saturdays after we had a quick run through at the basketball game the night before. Basketball games are dress rehearsal experience for us because we compete on the gym floor.”

The team also travels to the NDA National Competition every other year, and the girls took home ninth place the last time they attended in 2017. This season will end with a trip to Orlando, Florida to compete in the three-day event, where the Rangers’ goal is to place in the finals for all three of their dances.

“The competition at NDA Nationals in Florida is one of toughest dance competitions for high school dance teams in the world,” first-year co-head coach Jazzae Ford said. “It will be tough, but we are more than capable. As long as we stay on the track we are on now, our main goal should be extremely attainable. Our goal leading up to Nationals is to simply get better with each performance.”

The commencement of the season ushered in two new co-head coaches, Ford and Crystal Delgodo. The two are well-experienced in the dance world, as both have danced and coached for many years. Ford is an assistant dance coach at Davenport University and judges the Starquest Competition, while Delgodo has taught at several studios. The two together own Imprint Dance Studio, where dancers practice and compete year-round.

“The coaching change put us behind for a few months, but since we got new coaches, things have been going very well,” Alyssa said. “We have shorter, more productive practices, and it is really nice to have two coaches. We have extra eyes on our dances at all times, so we are able to get a lot more done.”  

The team and coaches seemed to be a perfect match, as their styles blend well. Dancers have praised their new coaches’ dedication and honesty that help the dances turn out clean and polished come competition time. The coaches are also very excited about the high skill level they are able to work with and instruct.

“The team is an extremely talented group of dancers who all come from strong backgrounds,” Ford said. “All of the dancers take it upon themselves to be well-prepared for practice and performance, which makes it very easy on us. The FHC athletic department and school has been very warm and welcoming, which makes us feel as if we have been on the coaching staff forever.”

The team is led by four-year varsity dancers Alyssa, Lindsey, and seniors Maddie Musgraves and Rielly Nehls. All four are co-captains and are a big part of the day-to-day functioning of the team through practices and performances.

“The seniors on our team are all such go-getters and step up to the plate without hesitation,” Ford said. “They are coaches on the floor and natural leaders, which definitely helps us as coaches.”

Coaches and fellow teammates alike have nothing but praise for the dedication these four seniors put into the team.

“I look up to the seniors; they are such good role models as leaders, dancers, and people in general,” junior Courtney Collar said. “They really stepped up during our coaching switch by running practice and cleaning our dances. I love them all so much; they are all so committed and work so incredibly hard. I don’t know what our team what do without them.”

Maddie and Rielly bring dances to a new level with their great tumbling skills and jaw-dropping tricks. Other standouts include sophomore Grace Pennington, who brings a lot of power and energy to dances, and junior Joelie Havey. Joelie is a very talented and dedicated dancer who is strong in every category to be a real bright spot for the team. The key to success, however, is the cohesiveness of the squad as a whole.

“The best thing about our team is that everyone brings something different to the floor,” Ford said. “Rather it be turns, jumps, performance, acrobatics, or flexibility, all the dancers are highlighted and talented in different areas. Our juniors and seniors are the most comfortable with dance team style, and that definitely stands out and helps us pull through the season.”

The FHC dance team is tight-knit and equipped with an array of talented dancers. This team has a tradition in success that will likely continue through this year’s competition season. For the four seniors on the team, this marks their last competition season in high school, and they look to go out on a high note

“I am approaching this season with a very open mind and a lot of motivation to do well as a team because it’s our last season,” Lindsey said. “Our goal is to advance and place in finals for each of our dances, and we are trying to end by placing well at Nationals in Florida.”