Whether it be dancing on the side lines or performing during halftime, the Westside Girls always seem to be up on their feet and putting on a show.

Yet, some fail to recognize the extreme commitment and dedication shown by the dance team members. Behind every perfected move and pointed toe are hours of hard work and practice.

“Dance team is a year long commitment. The second it ends, the new season is already starting!” said head coach Khryssie Hartman.

“The girls practice year round, attend as many sporting events to perform at as possible, and participate in four competitions. Every time we go on the floor we need to look our best because it could be the first time someone is seeing us perform,” said Hartman.

Facing their last year of being a Westside Girl, the senior members know what it takes to stay motivated to work hard and they recognize dance team’s necessary commitment.

“It’s a lot of hard work and dedication. If you’re not prepared to work hard, then you won’t last,” said senior Tara Stewart.

In senior Elise Nill’s case, the dedication and time focused around dance plays a significant part in everyday life.

“It’s a very large role in my life. If I’m not doing homework or at school, I’m dancing…” said Nill.

Practicing for dance team can be time consuming with the detailed planning and perfecting of the different numbers.

“A lot of people don’t realize that we have to ‘clean’ our dances….We also have to map out our foundations as well on the gym floor,” said Nill. “You pick a designated spot on the floor for you and your opposite to stand on, which a lot people don’t really understand that we actually need the gym floor for that. It just takes a long time to clean it perfectly.”

Going to State and proving triumphant in the competition is something the Westside Girls look forward to every year. The competition offers the ability to showcase the team’s hard work and it gives the members motivation to strive for success during rehearsals and practices.

“I just like to look at the big picture. Every year, we get to to go State, we don’t have to qualify and we just go. Each year, they call the top five and if you’re the top five, then you get to stand up so that’s always the goal,” said Nill.

The Westside Girls waste no time when it comes to State. From weekly practices to rehearsal-filled weekends of learning and polishing choreography, dance team constantly works towards successful preparation.

“State preparation has already begun! On the weekend of September 9th we had our choreographers in for a marathon weekend of learning both comp[etition] dances. From then on we practice, clean, and perfect,” said Hartman. “The girls practice 2-3 times per week all year long, as well as every morning the week before a competition.”

“State is so important because it is where we get to show off all our hard work from the year. Our goal is to walk off the floor proud and knowing every girl did their very best- no regrets!” said Hartman.

This year’s competition holds a sentimental value in the hearts of the seniors as they face their last competition together.

“It’s the last thing that I’ll ever do with the team so it’s a big role for all of the seniors. That’s the last time we’ll ever do those competition dances. It just means a lot to us,” said Stewart.

Despite all of the hard work and tough times of remaining dedicated, the seniors have found motivation within each other to stay devoted to dance team.

“At times, it was hard to keep motivated with dance team, but my teammates kept me going. Our team is very close and we build off of each other’s energy,” said senior Emma Costello.

Dance team has shaped the seniors’ experiences in high school and has rewarded their hard work by accomplishing their goals as well as things beyond a title or winning a competition.

For Costello, having friends dancing by her side has made the experience worthwhile.

“I think the most rewarding thing about being on Westside Girls is having awesome teammates to share it with,” said Costello.

Hartman acknowledges the growth within her team’s members from their experiences on Westside Girls over time.

I love seeing my freshman grow throughout the years! They always come in unsure, shy, and really not knowing what to expect, and end up as seniors with all the confidence, dedication and pride in the world. Especially this year’s seniors! They are a wonderful group,” said Hartman.

Nill’s experiences on dance team have offered her fun-filled memories and opportunities she could have missed out on.

“It’s been amazing because I love being able to support my school in a way that others can’t, I guess. But it’s so fun being on the sidelines for games and performing at halftime and meeting a lot of new people I probably wouldn’t have met, like all the underclassmen, if it weren’t for dance team,” said Nill.

Senior Elise Nill practices her number at Westside Girls practice. She said the most rewarding part is “when you reach your goal at the end of the year because you know all of your hard work finally payed off.” Photo by Emily Mikesell.
Senior Elise Nill practices her number at Westside Girls practice. She said the most rewarding part is “when you reach your goal at the end of the year because you know all of your hard work finally payed off.” Photo by Emily Mikesell.

The dedication shown by the seniors translates to the underclassmen on the team and sets an example for the commitment needed to be a Westside Girl.

“I have learned from the seniors to always be the best I can be, not to settle with being mediocre, and always put 100% effort towards everything…They are great role models and try hard by always putting forth effort,” said freshman Hannah Honn.

After putting forth commitment and working hard for the team, Nill believes Westside Girls is a chance dedicated dancers shouldn’t pass up.

“Push through. If you’re debating whether or not you should do it I would definitely do it. It’s definitely worth your time,” said Nill. “You get to be involved and you get to meet a bunch of new girls, it’s just great.”