They came, they danced and they conquered. The Michigan dance team was able to show Saturday at the men’s basketball game why it is one of the hottest club sports – and is on the verge of becoming a varsity sport. Especially enjoyable was the performance during halftime, where the team and members of their most recent clinic took the floor and performed a two-and-a-half-minute dance. The clinic – approximately three hours long – taught 60 girls from age 10 interested college women how to shake it with the best of them. Although the men’s basketball games are usually the largest audience it performs in front of, the dance team also spreads spirit and energy to the lacrosse team, men’s gymnastics team, women’s volleyball and men’s soccer.
The dance team is a club sport which has seen huge growth over the last four years. With small strides, the team has gone from performing and cheering for sports with smaller audiences to receiving a corner to showcase its spirit at the Big House. Captain Lorin O’Toole credited this growth to their coach Valerie Postsos’ determination to broaden the team’s scope and also to fans who wrote the athletic department.
“Being able to cheer for football is a huge treat and helps our team to get better,” O’Toole said.
Cheering for football, while an enormous step up for the dance team, is a small step toward becoming a varsity sport. There are many club sports at Michigan, but being a “varsity” sport has many added bonuses that allow the teams to live up to their full potential. The dance team has just recently submitted a letter of intention to the athletic department to become a varsity sport, but O’Toole said involves a long process where funding will be an issue.
While the dance team helps support Michigan teams by scattering spirit, it also competes throughout the year to display its finely tuned athleticism.
“Games and sideline are important for the spirit of the game, but competition is another dimension where technique and athletic ability is more credited than just spirit, ” O’Toole said.
The dance team performs in competitions about twice per year at its summer camp in Wisconsin. If it qualifies, it will participate at the Universal Dance Association National Competition. Nationals this year were held in Florida during January, where the Wolverines took 10th place out of about 30 teams.
“We were happy with our finish and also had a very good time, but we are always striving to do better,” O’Toole said.
The girls will even be on ESPN next October when they televise the national tournament for the top-10 placement.
With 22 girls on the roster, one would expect a very close-knit group, and this is exactly the case.
“Not only is this a way to continue dancing, I am also with a group of people who love it just as much as I do,” O’Toole said. “The amount of time we spend together is ridiculous, but it is by choice.”
The women are always looking for new talent and the next tryout for this energetic and entertaining sport is in April. Chelsea Cullen, a junior team member states she joined because, “It is a great opportunity to continue dancing and competing too-and the added bonus is definitely the great “seats” to all of the football and basketball games.”