This post comes very late, but at least it is still technically Monday! When I started to write on this topic I realized just how much there was to say. I had tons of fun writing this post because it made me very sentimental and brought back tons of amazing memories!
When I was starting to think about what I would post for today's Mondays With Madison, it became obvious to me. This whole weekend I had been rooting on my high school dance team as they were in Orlando, Florida for Contest of Champions Nationals. I am the HUGEST Middleton High School Dance Team fan largely because of the role it played in my development as a person and in the memories it gave me throughout high school. So here it is: My Time on the Middleton High School Dance Team.
A Little Background...
I started dancing when I was three and from that point on it was always the thing I enjoyed spending my time doing and the sport (yes I believe it is a sport) that I truly loved. Dance was one of the ways that I could express myself and sometimes calm down after a stressful day. I almost always looked forward to nights spent at Kehl School of Dance (the studio I attended). At Kehl I was able to be a part of jazz and tap teams, take classes in all styles, and compete alongside my friends. I had grown up going to our high school's football and basketball games and while I am an avid sports fan, I always LOVED watching the dance team. There was always something inside me that longed to be on that team when I grew up. After seeing information about tryouts in April of my eighth grade year, I decided that I would try out in May.
I was so unbelievably nervous for tryouts. Despite this, I was also excited for the opportunity to even try to make it on the team. The experience truly pushed me as a dancer. Our tryouts are always a week long with an information session on that Monday. Following the information session I was excited because the new coaches seemed cool and encouraging but I was also scared because there were a lot of girls trying out. For the next three days we worked on technique and learned the routine we would be performing for tryouts. I don't remember many specifics about the tryouts but I do know that after my tryout I went home and was extremely anxious.
Although I put all I had into my tryout, in my head I was also reassuring myself that if I didn't make it, it would be ok. Meanwhile, I had my email pulled up on two different computers just waiting for either the congratulatory email or the email stating that I hadn't made it. As you might assume from simply the title of this post, I made the team! When I had opened the email and read the first sentence or two, I began jumping up and down and yelling to tell my whole family. I was one of the 19 members of the 2012-2013 Middleton High School Dance Team!
My first year on the Middleton High School Dance Team was extremely hard by looking back on it, so worth the difficulties. When I made it on the team, I was an innocent little freshman who wasn't completely sure what I had gotten myself into. I fell in love with performing at football and basketball games and I enjoyed having a group of people that I knew within my large high school community. A couple of my favorite moments from this year were my first UDA Camp in the summer at St. Norbert's College without my glasses (blind) because my fake eyelashes were too long, and competing and having tons of fun at UDA Nationals in Orlando, Florida.
I absolutely loved the dance aspect but I found the social aspect to be much more difficult. In my head I looked at all of my teammates and saw that they were all popular and I was very much not. Many times I felt as though I had to change my personality or act in a different way just to be accepted or fit in. This was exhausting and there were times when interactions at practice would leave me in tears on the drive home. This experience was testing the little self confidence I had at the time. For our dance team, you have to re-tryout each May for the following year and there were times when I thought that I may not want to re-tryout because of my experience my first year. However, I felt God challenging me to use this experience to grow in my self confidence, truly live out my values, and use my experience to ensure that no new members ever had to feel the way I did. At our banquet at the end of the year, I was named Most Improved and while in the moment this meant simply most improved as a dancer, I have grown to understand this to be most improved in not only dance ability but also confidence and purpose
So, with this new mission I enthusiastically tried out for the team again. The team dynamic was totally different and I was committed to being completely myself. We had another successful trip to UDA Camp, this time at UW Milwaukee. Early in the season our coach talked to us about how she felt that we would be very successful competing at state which fell the same weekend as the Nationals that our team historically attended. We decided to try out this form of competition. So we began competing at different high schools leading up to Regionals. In our dance team's first ever attempt, we qualified for state in both hip hop and pom! This was exhilarating! I was in love with our freaky hip hop routine and it was so much fun to be able to perform it at such a high level. In the end, we got 3rd in state in Division 1 Hip Hop and we were all amazed! Never before did we think that something like this could happen in our first year in the system. This put the MHS Dance Team "on the map". At our banquet this year I was awarded the Academic Award for the highest GPA and this showed me the ways that I could incorporate my strengths into diverse areas (like academics into dance team).
My junior year brought actual application of my mission. I was voted on by my teammates to be the co-captain of the team. In this role I got to help plan and execute our dance clinics, I was able to learn the ropes of being a leader on the team, and I was recognized by my team for my work and character. Our team gained some amazing new members, some of which have become a few of my closest friends, and an awesome senior from my freshman year, Ana, came back to act as an assistant coach!
At UDA camp I was chosen to tryout for UDA All-American (you learn an additional routine that encompasses jazz, pom, hiphop, and some of your own choreography and if chosen you have the opportunity to dance in the London New Year's Parade) and I was also chosen to learn and perform the team routine. These two things pushed me as a dancer and showed me just how much I had grown because of this experience. One of my favorite moments from this football/basketball season was when we performed a pom routine at the Homecoming Pep Assembly. Mid-routine the music cut out and despite this, we continued dancing through the whole routine. The cheers we got following this are some of the loudest ever from our peers. After our success at state the previous year, we again set our sights on this competition. We were lucky enough to qualify in both hip hop and pom again and we placed fourth in Division 1 Hip Hop. I was honored to win our team's Academic Award once again!
Of all of my four years on the wonderful Middleton High School Dance Team, my senior year was by far my favorite! I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of our team's four captains (two seniors and two juniors) and I also served on the Choreography Committee and thus helped choreograph our routines, create formations, and teach the choreography to the team. Since our practices were held at a facility outside of our high school (the District Administrative Center only a few minutes away) I got to drive a carpool with four little freshman. Throughout the year they called me Soccer Mom/Dance Mom/just Mom and to this day they are some of my close friends who I love and miss dearly. The whole team was such a fun, loving, accepting atmosphere that fostered success and drive. I have so many memories of crying laughing, of having crazy dance parties with some of my best friends, and of feeling as though I could be completely myself.
Once again our team had amazing success at UDA camp and I was named a UDA All-American once again. Throughout football and basketball season there were a lot of "lasts" since it was my senior year but each one was extremely memorable. We choreographed and performed a KILLER Homecoming Hip Hop routine, us seniors were recognized at a basketball game, and our routines for state were both challenging and fun. Never did I ever think that I would perform a little kid themed hip hop routine but now I can say that I have! In preparation for state I was honored with the opportunity to represent Middleton by choreographing a solo and submitting a video for All-State. I was chosen as a finalist so on the day of state I got to perform in front of all of my friends and family (and also a few judges). While I wasn't chosen for the All-State team, this was a great culmination in my progression as a dancer because of my time on this team. As a team we had an amazing time bonding throughout our competition season! One of my favorite moments was when we were announced as winning second in Division 1 Pom at Regionals! Being with the girls and our amazing coaches for hours each week was stressful at times but honestly I miss it so much more than I can put it into words.
I ended my senior year on the Middleton High School Dance Team by again winning the Academic Award but also by being voted as Most Valuable by my teammates. These girls and my coaches continuously pushed me to be a better person and a better dancer, and for that I am forever grateful. They were able to recognize the potential in me and encouraged me to understand it and utilize. It is my greatest hope that I was able to influence their lives like they influenced mine.
I will forever be a proud alum of the Middleton High School Dance Team. This team and the amazing coaches have impacted my life in monumental ways. I firmly believe that I would not be the woman I am today without my experiences from these four years. I am not ashamed to say that I am one of the MHS Dance Team's biggest fans!
I was able to help out with tryouts for this year's team and it is so awesome to see the team continuing to progress and develop. To this day I get so excited at the opportunity to see one or more of the girls, meet up with my coaches, attend practice, or even just cheer them on all the way from ISU! I love any chance that I can get to remain involved with the team even though I really wish I could just be back dancing on the team!
Most recently, over winter break my coach contacted me and knowing that I enjoy fashion and designing, asked if I would help in designing new dresses for the team. At the time none of the girls knew about this or even the fact that they would be getting new dresses as they would be attending Nationals this year. I had so much fun spending two whole days drawing out tons of designs and communicating with my coach to figure out exactly what she wanted. Essentially, after I had completed many sketches, my coach took my designs to The Line Up, the company that would be doing the final design and producing the costume.
When the team was at state this year and staying overnight in a hotel before the competition, they were told about the dresses and the role I had played in them, and they got to see the mock-up of the costume. My coach immediately sent me photos and I was amazed to see that the dress was extremely close to one I had designed! The Middleton High School Dance Team just competed at Nationals in Orlando, Florida this past weekend and I was so proud to see them performing on such a large stage, not to mention that they performed their crazy awesome pom routine in the dresses that I had designed! For this pom routine they placed 2nd at Contest of Champions Nationals!! It was so fun to be able to apply something I am passionate about to the team that I absolutely love. I am so excited to continue being the MHS Dance Team's biggest fan and to watch as more years of this team succeed in amazing ways and wear the dress that I helped design!
To those of you who supported me throughout high school and are still supporting me now, THANK YOU! I would not be here without you all. To those of you that I have been blessed to meet this year, I hope that this post (if you made it through it all) helped you get to know me at least a little better and maybe understand why I am such a big fan of my team and the years that I spent on it!