Baker University dance squad wins national championship
Katie Sellers, Baker University senior and dance team member, competed at the national tournament as a freshman and senior, but the two experiences were very different, and not just in the outcome.
The Baker University dance team won the NAIA National Dance Alliance Small Dance National Championship April 8 in Daytona Beach, Fla. The competition was altered this year for NAIA schools. In years past, Baker would have competed as an NCAA Division III school and faced much larger schools, but this year got to compete against other NAIA schools.
“I think there was a lot of talent (on the team) this year, which made it good for us to have a routine that was competitive, and the choreographer also gave us a routine that was also different, but exactly what we needed that fit our style,” Sellers said.
The Wildcats earned a bid to nationals in July, and then finished second at the Heart of America Athletic Conference competition, behind Benedictine College. BU was the top finisher in the preliminary round of the national championships before advancing to and winning the final round.
Senior Gina Davidson said the victory was just starting to sink in, and all the work put in throughout the year paid off.
“Some days we just are so tired and worn out, but you just kind of have to keep pushing through it because it’s definitely worth it,” Davidson said.
Competitive dance and cheer has been labeled as an emerging sport since 2009. Sellers said the victory could be a positive for the university as a whole because it could bring in potential students who want to dance for a team that has reached the top.
Davidson also thinks the coverage of the win could help people better understand the new sport.
“I think the best thing to do right now is educate people because … a lot of people are kind of unsure of how it works because dance is such a subjective sport and it’s hard to understand right now,” Davidson said.
The dance team will have to reload next year as it is losing half of its squad to graduation. The team hosted tryouts Sunday to find dancers for next year.
Sellers and Davidson will not be returning next year to try to repeat, but Sellers said she was able to end her collegiate career on a high note, ending as a national champion.
“I mean, I couldn’t ask for anything better than that,” Sellers said. “I know all of my years of training and hard work, before I came to Baker and since I’ve been here, it’s just very rewarding for all the time I’ve put in to dance and knowing that it’s paid off.”