Mavs dance team onto nationals

After two years, the Minnesota State University, Mankato dance team will be returning to Orlando, Florida for the College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship. The team hasn’t been able to compete since January 2020, and is looking forward to showing off the hard work they have put in over the past two years. 

In the past, the team has won four national championships in both the poms and jazz categories, and this year they’re looking to extend those numbers in similar categories. This year the dance team will be competing in poms, jazz and game day, which is new for the team.

“Game day category is us showing our school spirit,” said fifth-year captain Paige Paquette. “We start off by showing our fight song and then we go into a little spirit thing and then go into a chant. The judges will announce something and then we’ll have to call a chant according to what they announce. After that we will go into a sideline and then we do a game-day routine and pom routine, showing just a little extra skills.”

Added junior team captain Karyley Odella, “Our game day routine is kind of everything we do during our game day season for football.”

Preparing for nationals begins before the school year starts, with the team participating in the Universal Dance Association camp in the summer.

“We have UDA camp, which we attend in the beginning of August, and after that camp we have a full two weeks of practicing every day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. In that time you really get to bond with the team, working on our skills and techniques, and getting us ready for the season,” Odella stated.

Junior team captain Reese Schwarzentraub discussed what the team’s practice schedule looks like once the school year begins.

“We usually meet two times a week on Mondays and Wednesdays 6 to 9 a.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. We also do gymnastics, usually every other week, sometimes every week, where we can work on those acrobatic skills,” Schwarzentraub commented. “We then start to work on football game day stuff. Usually on football game days we are out on the field with the cheer team as a spirit squad. We do the tunnel with the football team and then we do sideline routines, and we will usually do a halftime routine as well.”

Once the first semester has wrapped up and everyone is finished with classes for the next month, the dance team goes back to everyday practices in order to prepare for nationals.

“Once winter break hits we have practice every day. On Mondays and Wednesdays we do two a days where we are literally just drilling our routines constantly for either four hours a day or six hours a day,” Paquette stated.

Returning to Florida for the nationals competition is something the dancers have been looking forward to since their last appearance.

“I am personally looking forward to just being back at UDA. Competing my freshman year and then not being able to compete my sophomore year because of COVID was, I think, really hard on all of us,” Schwarzentraub stated. “I’m really excited to be back and for the rest of the team to experience our time in Orlando and just really bond as a team. I’m excited to show everyone what we’ve got.”

In addition to this, Odella commented, “My freshman year was my first year competing at nationals and it was the most unreal experience I’ve ever experienced. I’m just ready for that again, especially since we have been practicing for the past year and a half with no performances and now we finally get to perform. I think I’m most excited to put out our routines that we worked so hard on and for all of us on the team to experience that together.”

In recent weeks, Paquette has suffered an ACL injury, resulting in her not being able to perform this year at nationals. Despite this setback, she is still ready to cheer on her teammates and watch the girls give their performance their all.

This injury is one of many the team has gone through this year, along with other challenges as well.

Odella explained some other setbacks the team has experienced this season.

“I think one of our biggest challenges this year has been the unknown that we kind of had to go through. With Paige tearing her ACL, we have to rework formations and everything. I think that was one of our biggest challenges as a team,” Odella stated. “I also think that all of the practices we have gone through were mentally challenging. It’s a lot to practice that much together every single day, so it’s just as mentally challenging as physically.”

The dance team will be performing in the game day category at 12:45 p.m. Friday, the poms category at 4:05 p.m. and the jazz category at 8:32 p.m. on Saturday, EST. Anyone is welcome to watch the livestream on VarsityTV.

Header photo: After a two-year absence from the College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championships, the Minnesota State dance team looks forward to competing in Orlando, Florida.

One thought on “Mavs dance team onto nationals

  • January 16, 2022 at 10:05 pm

    National Champs! Jazz and Pom


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