When seniors Shaun Keylock and Berkley Holzschuh dreamt up the idea of a dance team in 2011, they would never have imagined that in three short years their team would be at the top of the competition scene. Now dance team is being considered for club sport status
Keylock started the dance team in spring 2011 and Holzschuh joined later in the fall, since then the team has grown immensely, graduating from performances at occasional sporting events to being the top school performers and regularly competing in dance competitions.
“I never thought I would be coaching a winning dance team when I started college,” Holzschuh said.
“We were just kind of thrown into it, and have to continue growing as coaches and people.”
With the help of its assistant coach, sophomore Jacqline Rosa, and a constantly growing number of team members, the dance team has taken on an extra practice a week and committed to dedicating hours of extra workouts to catch up to teams who have been established longer.
Sophomore Rhayn Abner said it’s a lot of hours to take on, but is absolutely worth it when she looks at how far the team has come in such a short time.
As a testament to how far the team has come, in their first year of competitions the dance team took home three first place trophies in the Pacific Dance Invitational, winning the hip hop, jazz and pom divisions. They beat out Lewis and Clark College, University of Portland and Pacific Lutheran.
Holzschuh started the Pacific Dance Invitational for her senior project as a way to prepare teams for eventually competing in the Universal Dance Association Nationals and giving them a space to compete. She said she designed the competition to operate and be judged the same way UDA Nationals would.
“Winning so much was crazy,” said Abner. “We were really shocked because we saw some of the different routines and we thought they were fantastic. It’s just such an honor to be a part of something like this.”
In addition to winning the Pacific Dance Invitational, the team also took first in the open collegiate jazz division at the UDA Northwest Championship in Tacoma, Wash. They took third in the open collegiate hip hop division. The Regional Championship was the first competition the team had ever competed in at that point.
Keylock remembered Holzschuh calling him in hysterics, right after they won, screaming “Sean we got first and third!” He said it was one of the most exciting experiences of his life.
The dance team is completely student-run from practices to competitions to dealing with legal matters. For this reason, it has been difficult to become a certified club sport.
Holzschuh said the team tried in 2011 and were told what they needed to do to become a club sport. She was told the team needed to become more noticed on campus, do more performances, and compete in competitions, which has been done. Now all that’s left for the team is becoming certified.
Becoming a club sport would help advance the team in more ways than one. Because Keylock and Holzschuh are graduating, they would only be able to come back and coach if the team was a certified club team and they were able to be compensated for the travel time. Being a club sport would also mean sponsors and funds to allow the team to travel and compete more.
Abner remembered the way she felt about her dancing abilities and identity at Pacific before joining the dance team and said the biggest thing the dance team has given to her and her fellow dancers is confidence.
“You kind of get to grow along with the team and the coaches,” she said. “Here, you feel like you’re a part of it more and actually making it grow. It’s really special.”
Holzschuh said that now that the Pacific Dance Invitational is over, her main focus will be making the team a recognized club sport.
After practicing and competing since August, the team finally gets a small break before auditions and practices start again. For anyone interested in becoming a part of the fast-growing team, auditions will be held April 13 at 12 p.m. in Warner Hall room 4.