Dance team has successful season with talented senior class


The varsity dance team secured a spot in the top twenty at the NDA Nationals competition in Florida to round out an overall solid 2019 competition season.

“We competed against the most elite dance teams in the nation,” senior co-captain Alyssa Zadel said. “[High school] dance is becoming more and more popular, and the teams are only getting better. We were extremely proud to hold our own against teams across the country from public, private, and even fine arts schools.”

FHC had a rocky start at the Kenowa Hills Invitational in early January, as some early-season jitters and mistakes were costly to the overall placement of the dances. The dance team was awarded fifth place in Hip Hop, fourth in Pom, and second in its strongest category, Jazz, out of ten varsity teams competing.

“The team learned a lot, especially how to be a team on the floor,” first-year co-head coach Jazzae Ford said. “They also learned every detail counts and matters, and that emotion and performance is half of the battle. Nonetheless, both myself and Crystal (the other co-head coach) are extremely pleased with how they did at Kenowa, especially considering they finished a new Jazz dance the night before competition.”

The dancers had a large learning curve after the first competition, as they came back in the Jenison Invitational to have great success. As a team, FHC took first place in the Pom category and second place in both Hip Hop and Jazz. The Rangers also received the best costume award in the entire competition for their Jazz dance.

Individually, senior co-captain Maddie Musgraves received first place for her contemporary solo in the Jenison Invitational. Along with Maddie, freshman Abby Drueke was able to earn fifth place in her high school solo debut. Junior Joelie Havey secured fourth place, and Alyssa earned third.

FHC continued to clean and perfect its routines before it would head to another competition just a week after the Jenison Invitational. The Rangers ended up winning the Grand Champion award at the St. John’s Invitational for back-to-back titles at that event. FHC secured the top spot with its Jazz and Pom dances while falling just short of the top three with its Hip Hop routine coming in fourth. Yet again, the dancers were given the best costume award for their Jazz apparel.

Following the success at St. John’s, the dancers had three weeks until Nationals. During that time, Maddie suffered a knee injury that removed her from two of the three dances come time for Nationals. FHC was crunched for time to rework the dances without Maddie’s presence, and the Rangers were not able to advance to the finals in Hip Hop or Pom at Nationals.

“Maddie’s injury was really devastating and added to what seemed like an ongoing list of struggles we have faced this year,” Alyssa said. “However, as always our team faced the challenge head-on and adjusted gracefully.”

Maddie was, however, able to compete in the Jazz dance, which advanced to the finals and earned seventeenth place to give the Rangers their top-twenty finish.

“Maddie is one of those dancers who is glue to the team,” Ford said. “She puts the team on her back along with the rest of the seniors, and it’s important that we had all of our leaders on stage for such an emotional piece. When I was informed that [Maddie] would be able to dance in Jazz, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders and I assume from everyone else’s as well.”

For the four senior co-captains Maddie, Alyssa, Lindsey Lunt, and Rielly Nehls, Nationals marked the end of their four-year commitment to the dance team.

“I am sad that it is over, and I definitely think the senior class has brought a lot of talent to the team,” Alyssa said, “but I am confident that the remaining members will continue the success of the team. There is a lot of talent among the girls.”

The team loses four key dancers and leaders in the seniors and will certainly look to rebuild and recover in their absence. The team will turn to the current junior class to lead it in continued success next year.

“Losing the seniors is going to be hard both for the spirit of the team and our level of competitiveness,” junior Courtney Collar said. “They were amazing leaders, and the seniors were our best dancers.  We are going to have to work twice as hard without them carrying the team. The other juniors and I are going to have to step in many ways; it’s up to us to fill the seniors’ shoes.”

The varsity dance team returns plenty of talent from the remaining three grades, and the dancers will have a year of experience under their belts with the new head coaches. While next year is not a Nationals year, the team will look to have success in the regional competitions and defend its title of Grand Champions at the St. John’s Invitational for the third year in a row.

“[We want to] grow technique, get more consistent, and continue to transform ourselves into a nationally-ranked team,” Ford said. “We have amazing underclassmen coming up all the way from our freshmen to our juniors, so there is no doubt in the exponential growth of our team on all levels.”