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Decatur dance team wins prestigious national championship
The trophy case keeps getting bigger for the Decatur High School dance team. The Gators' collection of trophies grew again recently when Decatur brought home a prestigious USA championship from the 2012 Dance/Drill Nationals, which were held at the Anaheim Convention Center in California.
The Gators won their national title in the open division prop category and also finished in second place in the open medium military category. Nationals were held March 30-31.
"Rarely at Decatur does this dance team see studio-trained dancers like other schools in our district and in the state," said head coach Lindsey Starr. "We have to train long and hard to keep up with the elite teams in Washington."
The national championship comes right on the heels of Decatur snagging a state title at the 2012 Washington State Dance/Drill Championships inside the Yakima SunDome.
The Gators won the kick division in the 2B/1A/2A/3A competition in Yakima. Decatur racked up 455.75 points to outdistance second-place Lake Washington (436.5 points) and Hanford (429.5).
"This was our first trip to national's because the national competition dates have been the same weekend that our Washington state competition was to be held," said the team's academic advisor, Carol Edmonson. "This was the first time out of the last five years that the dates were different allowing us to compete."
The Decatur dance team is a year-round program that begins each May with tryouts and runs through the summer and the full school year. The Gators perform at school events, a Seattle Seahawk NFL football game and hold a community dance camp for elementary students every fall.
"We practice five to six days a week year-round, sometimes two times a day and on Saturday, frequently for six to eight hours," Starr said. "These kids give it everything they got everyday and when they think they can't give anymore, they do."
This season, however, has been filled with a little adversity for Decatur. After starting the season strong, three of the team's senior captains quit.
"This is a big deal when the team spends everyday day together, numerous hours a day and they become more than just a team, they become a family," said Starr. "You would think that something like this would affect the morale of this team, but it didn't. It actually made them stronger and want to work harder."
Aside from the national and state titles, the Decatur dance team's resume from this season includes first-place finishes at the UDA Summer Camp, Shorewood competition, Interlake competition, Capital competitions and the West Central District championship.
The team includes Jenny Ko (captain), Onesha Brown, Brianna Brooks, Kylie Seo, Yuki Sot, Shani Wrenn, Courtney Poehler, Mikaela Smith, Yenna Chang, Kymberlee Preston, Autum Hopkins, Mariah Luce, Amanda Lyons, Dabrenika DuBois, Kendyle Dayley, Morgan Arment, Ana Garcia and Lincoln Pothan. Starr, who has been at Decatur for the past 10 years, is assisted by Sydnee Williams.
"Like I always say, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel," Starr said. "And we take great pride in being a part of something so rewarding and wonderful. Looking back at this year, I wouldn't of changed or done one thing differently."
The future also looks bright for the Decatur dance team moving forward, according to Edmonson. The Gators graduate only one member of the 2012 team and should be the favorites to repeat as state champions .
"The team will be extremely strong next season and hope that our success will encourage other students to try out to become a member of this hard working and talented, award-winning team," Edmonson said.