Although the California Baptist University dance team spent its third season competiting virtually, the team found success, becoming national champions after winning the USA West Coast Spirit Championship in the all-in-one category on March 22.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the CBU dance team competes by performing their routines in the CBU Events Center with help of the CBU film crew to send in their best routine. The team recorded its winning performance on March 16, and the virtual format allows the team to perform multiple times and send in the performance in which they are most confident.
Alexis Ramos, junior biomedical science major, said she believes the virtual performance made it hard to be in a game-day mentality.
“Coach Kristy (Mapes) wanted this experience to be as close to in-person competition as possible for us,” Ramos said. “Her and Coach Liv (Miller) brought banners to be our backdrop in the Events Center. These really made it feel like we were dancing on a real competition stage. While preparing for our virtual competition, we practiced as if we were still able to compete in person. We didn’t let this stop us from working hard or perfecting our routines. We made every practice worth it and each girl on the team put 100% effort in. There were times when it felt difficult to keep going because it wasn’t the competition season we expected, but we constantly talked about ‘our why’ for dancing on this team. Moreover, we all had the same goal in mind, which was to be national champions.”
Miya Serrato, senior biomedical sciences major, said that leading the team through a pandemic season was difficult because the team’s morale and fatigue fluctuated often.
“It was really different to be a senior during this strange time in history,” Serrato said. “I felt like I had to do my best to keep things normal for the sake of our rookies, and I wanted to do my best to prepare them as much as possible for their first normal season next year, fingers crossed.”
The team dynamic was difficult to maintain this season for junior psychology major Savannah Hines as she Zoomed in for practice during the fall semester. She said practicing over Zoom made it tougher to bond with the rest of her team.
“The team dynamic this season is a lot different than it has been before,” Hines said. “We didn’t have all of the team bonding events that we normally do and our team is bigger than it has ever been. The rookies never got to dance at a game, or go to camp or participate in any events. It was also hard because I was on Zoom last semester, so I didn’t get to meet all the rookies until this semester. But competition definitely brought us a lot closer. It was so great to work towards a goal together and succeed.”
In addition to Zoom practice making bonding difficult, Hines said Zooming in from her living room left room for some mishaps.
“Dancing from my living room was much different than the dance room, as you can imagine,” Hines said. “I was following along doing my turns and I was doing second turns when my leg slammed into the couch I fell to the floor. I stayed laying there for a second and laughed because I really put full force into it, forgetting there was a couch.”
Even though the members of the dance team are national champions, some members will be competing virtually and others are performing live in Daytona Beach, Florida for the National Dance Association National Championship on April 7-11.
“This competition is a little different than the other one because we had to compete in prelims first,” Ramos said. “We found out this past week that we made it to finals. Coach Kristy changed a lot of things in our Pom routine, which made it look like a whole different routine. We only had one day to learn all the new stuff, but we did it.”