The Hoot

A Magical Season

From Disney World to the state competition, the Windsor Golden Line had another memorable season.

Grace Mueller, Staff Editor

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In late January, the Windsor Golden Line Dance Team traveled to Orlando, Florida, to attend their very first UDA Nationals Dance Competition. Compared to other teams competing at the competition, it was a somewhat small team, from a very small town just 25 miles south of St. Louis, Missouri. I was part of that team.

As one of seventeen dancers on the Windsor Golden Line Dance Team, I have had quite the experience. There are two seniors, two juniors, seven sophomores (me being one of them), and six freshmen. Our dance coach (Lindsey George), her mother (Lisa McCulley), and former Golden Line Dance Team member Alissa Tringale, all joined us on the trip. Many of the dancers’ family members tagged along as well.

Our journey began by meeting at Windsor High School on an extremely cold morning. We all loaded our things onto a bus, waved goodbye to parents that didn’t join us on the trip, and hopped aboard, so we could take the short 40 minute drive to the airport.

Once at the airport, we all checked in, went through security (with no altercations), and dropped our stuff off at the gate where we would be boarding. We then broke off into groups to go eat at the available restaurants in the airport. Time quickly passed by–many of the girls were finishing up homework before our flight, we had jammed out to some tunes to pump us up, and it was finally time to board the plane.

Since it was my first time flying and I was somewhat nervous, I wanted to get a picture with the pilot before take off. The other dancers thought I was being a little goofy, but I was serious about getting this picture. After one of the flight attendants took a few pictures, I headed to find a seat. Now, many airplanes have assigned seats, but for some reason, this one did not. Long story short, about half of the people in our group of 20 had to sit next to random strangers. I know it was not the end of the world, but it was kind of uncomforting for me and the rest of the “first time flyers” on the plane.

After what seemed like an eternity on the plane, we finally landed in Orlando, Florida. We were so excited, yet tired and hungry from being on a plane for roughly two hours. Everyone took care of business and we headed to the Disney’s Magical Express, so we could arrive at the Disney All Star Music Resort. As we were headed to the lines for the shuttle buses, our coach decided to have us go all the way across the airport to get our luggage to save time, instead of have the resort deliver them to our rooms at check-in. Then, we were headed back to the shuttle buses.

After checking in to our rooms, the varsity competition had huge walk-through tents for dancers to watch a video about safety rules, take pictures in front of a Varsity backdrop, and purchase merchandise. As we walked through the merchandise area, I found the shirt with all of the names of the schools that were competing at Nationals this year. It was so amazing to see our name on the back of that shirt. I honestly could not believe it. After waiting for awhile, we were given our magic bands for the parks, and we went off to our rooms to get ready for “parking lot practice.”

What is parking lot practice? It  is when all the teams go to the parking lots and, well, practice. However, it is a lot more fun than it sounds. When you are practicing with all of the other teams from all over the country and the teams that you know from previous competitions in your state, it is just so much fun seeing how far everybody has come. You get to meet new people, see what others are doing in their routines, and it is kind of funny to see how the coaches react when they see each other after so many years of being on college teams together. It really is like a big family reunion, and is overall really fun. Once we were done, we had a team meeting and went to bed at about midnight. We definitely were exhausted the next morning.

The next two days were very jam-packed with nonstop dancing. Friday was the day we would be performing our jazz and hip hop routines for the first time. It was really nerve racking, but overall really fun. We first started by stretching and listening to our music for each routine before we performed them. We kind of get pumped up and get in the zone. After we listened to our music individually a few times, we came together and started practicing as a team. We pumped each other up by yelling for each other during the dances and saying vocals together. It really is an amazing way to boost our confidence. We then headed backstage to run our dance on the practice floors.

Once we were there, it was just mind blowing to see how big everything was. We were finally there, making history. It was our time to shine. We practiced all of our tricks and ran through our dances a few times. All of our hard work was about to pay off. We were waiting behind all of the other teams competing in our category, which was large group. Before we knew it we were up next. It went by so fast. All of a sudden, we heard the announcer call our names, our friends, family, and coaches were cheering for us–it was time. We ran out onto the stage and took our positions. The music started, and we were killing it. I was in the zone and going hard. There was no way anything could stop me. After we walked off the stage, my heart was beating out of my chest for both performances. We did it– we had just made history.

Following both performances, we would wait for the other teams to get done performing, and wait for the judges to call the names of the teams that had made it to finals. Unfortunately, we did not make it to finals for either dance, however, we were still really proud for making it that far. Afterall, it was our first year competing and first time experiencing it.

We took the bus back to our rooms, ate, and went to parking lot practice again. A few of the other teams from Missouri came to practice with us again, and give us corrections and pointers. We then had our team meeting, once again, and got ready for bed.

The following day, Saturday, we were competing with our Game Day routine. Game Day is basically everything the dance teams do at a football or basketball game. First, we perform our Fight Song dance. Then, we perform a side-line, which is one of the dances that we perform on the track during a football game for example. Lastly, while a short video of everything we did the past season plays, we head to our formation to perform a dance that is taught to us by our coaches that we would normally perform during halftime. It is a lot of dancing, and we have to be super peppy like we are at a game, not that we already aren’t. We also have a time limit of four minutes, which isn’t that bad, but sometimes the music might not work or something may go wrong that puts extra time on our performance. Thankfully, everything went smoothly and we nailed our routine.

All the teams that performed gathered backstage and were called one by one to gather in groups onto the stage. A man came onto the stage along with some of the UDA Performers and were standing by a big table with huge trophies on it. We all held hands tightly and waited for our name to be called. The man announced, places 22nd and 21st. Then it was onto the Top 20. We held hands so tight and held our breaths. “Next in our Top 20, 19th place goes to Windsor High School!” We were ecstatic that we even placed and came in for a big hug after awards.

Our Nationals journey pretty much ended there, but we were still pumped and ready to hit the parks at Walt Disney World. We first started by going to Animal Kingdom. While we were there, we went on Expedition Everest and the Jungle Safari where we saw a bunch of animals. We also went to Hollywood Studios, Disney Springs (where we had a team dinner at the Rainforest Cafe), and of course, Magic Kingdom. We even had an after-hours night at Magic Kingdom with all the other teams. It was really fun and cool to see the park at night.

With that, we headed to the airport Monday afternoon. We had to take two planes back to Missouri, with our first flight landing in Tennessee. Once we boarded the first airplane and we were all in our seats, almost every single person with our team slept. It was definitely a long trip back home because we were traveling north, so the wind speeds made our trip very bumpy. However, the second plane wasn’t too bad mostly because it was only a 45 minute flight. Once we were finally back in Missouri, most of the girls went straight home to sleep, but me and another girl on the team, Izzy Boyer, were stuck at the airport with Izzy’s grandpa until our moms got off of their flight at 11 o’clock at night. We did go to her grandpa’s house for a little while, but I was so tired and it was so cold outside, I barely remember it.

We were finally back home, and it felt amazing. However that did not mean that we were done with practices. We had the a few more basketball games that we had to perform halftime at, but the big thing was State. That’s right, we had our state competition after our nationals competition. I know, it is a little weird, but that is just how it was.

Anyway, we still had a lot of practicing ahead of us, and it ended up paying off. When we showed up at the competition, it was being held at the Family Arena like the previous year, but it isn’t really the best floor to perform on. Usually at competitions and games we perform on gym floors, which are really slippery and hard to perform on. Now, at the Family Arena, we also have to perform on a floor that is really slick because we perform on the basketball court floors that they layout for college basketball games. I mean, it is not that hard to dance on, but it is way worse than an actual stage meant for dancing.

Everything aside, we were getting ready at the arena and getting in our zones like we do before all of our competitions. Before we head back to perform, we all have to stand in a line for inspection to see if we have any piercings, bobby pins sticking out of our hair, and if our fingernails are too long, so they don’t get caught on anything while we are dancing. We all were good to go for both of our dances, so we headed down to the floor. We start by going to these mats to practice any tricks and lifts on. Then, we have a few minutes to spread out in a designated space and run through dances a few times. The last thing we do before going on stage to perform is wet the bottoms of our shoes to prevent us from slipping. While all of us do this, we come into a huddle and have a pep talk with our coach and team. We finally got on stage and it felt like I was floating. We danced our heart out, made the crowd go crazy, and had so much fun knowing that we were making other people happy.

After we performed both of our routines, we had a little while to sit with our friends and family, and watch the other teams’ performances. The best part of the whole day, however, was awards. There is nothing like sitting in a circle, holding hands as tight as possible, waiting to hear what your team placed. I could barely breathe. It was amazing. We placed second in 3A Lyrical and first in 3A Hip Hop. We were also awarded third place overall in Division 3. It was unbelievable. It was also amazing because we were defending our title from the year before as First Place Hip Hop State Champions, and we did it. It was also the first time that the Windsor Golden Line Dance Team ever placed in our overall division. This past season was amazing. I could not imagine a better way to end the year.

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A Magical Season