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When national dance champion Niki Johnson rushed off the stage and into a throng of reporters on April 12, they all wanted to know the same thing: “Where’s your coach?” Her answer surprised them, “We don’t have one!”
The UMD Dance Team won the 2013 National Dance Association ‘Division 2’ Collegiate National Championship. The completion took place in Daytona Beach, Florida and involved more than 11 teams from across the country. This is the largest cheer and dance competition in the world and will air on ESPN on May 5, 2013.
In addition to their dazzling moves and athleticism, these national champs are a self-directed group. Dance Team is a club sport without a coach. Members’ collaborative contributions fill in any gap left by lack of a formal leader. “This really makes us unique,” explains Johnson who’s a co-captain of the team. “Not having a coach pulls our team together and teaches us so much about leadership and organization.”
…and fundraising. When not wowing audiences and winning awards, members are raising money. The team receives a small stipend from UMD but mostly relies on fundraising efforts to cover expenses. An annual dance show is the biggest money maker, but team members still pay about $700 in out-of-pocket expenses.
Johnson says that she wishes the team could focus more on performing and less on fundraising but, despite the distraction, the team’s record is impressive. In the last four years they’ve placed in within the top four at the national championships.
This can be attributed to a lot of hard work. Johnson says the team practices between nine and 12 hours every week and perform from September through April every year.
Front row: Lexi Crowell, Ashley Davis, Kelsey Villwock, Kelly Lusk, Colette Moran, Nadine Abu Azzam, Tessa LeBlanc
Story written by Lori C. Melton, firstname.lastname@example.org
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