ORLANDO, Fla. -- For the first time in program history, the Ohio dance team traveled to Orlando, Fla., to compete at the 2019 UCA and UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championships, which were held Jan. 18-20 at the Walt Disney World® Resort. The Bobcats competed in both the D1A Dance division and the University World Cup Championships. After receiving a superior rating on day one, Ohio received the third-highest overall score on day two and earned the title of 2019 University World Cup Open Division Champions.
Representing Ohio at the 2019 UCA and UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championships were Allie Beres, Taylor Breen, Jenna Crass, Savannah DeAnthony, Kaylea Ellis, Aimee Gjurkovitsch, Hannah Hiltz, Megan Hinkle, Jenna Knisley, Morgan Korn, Kelsey Majiros, Rachael Roenfeldt, Sierra Sasse, Haley Trevino, Kate Vaughn and Macie Westrick.
Knisley, an engineering major who serves as the team's captain, was the key motivator behind the team's journey to Nationals. With an impressive previous background in dance performance, Knisley realized that the talent of this year's team would be one for the history books.
"During our summer auditions, it was clear that we had the talent to be a successful competition team," said Knisley.
Time commitment, and, of course, academic rigor had to be accounted for in order to maximize the team's productivity. Practicing at least five days a week throughout the fall and spring semester leading up to the competition, the dancers sacrificed their winter breaks to perfect their team, all while maintaining a 3.5 grade point average.
Knowing that so much more than talent and life balance goes into the making of a successful dance program, Knisley also explained the challenges associated with a student organization representing Ohio University as well as competing on a global scale.
"We raised one hundred percent of our funds needed, which included choreography, costumes, travel, registration, hotel and food," said Knisley. "Of course, this is also in addition to the costs that the team is responsible for during the year, which includes clothing and materials needed to dance at football games, basketball games and other Ohio events."
Dr. Andrew Pueschel, Director of Ohio University Dance Team, could not have been more thrilled with the results.
"Claiming a title is an amazing accomplishment for the Ohio University Dance Team," said Pueschel. "Our goal was to place Athens, Ohio on the map for collegiate dance teams, and, not only did this year's team participate for the first time, they achieved recognition that will absolutely shine the spotlight on future dancing Bobcats for years to come."
Pueschel also stated that within one hour of winning their title, the team started to receive requests for information via social media on the 2019-20 team auditions as well as offers for the performers to travel to area schools to assist in local dance camps. Most recently, the Ohio Dance Team was also voted top five in the "Best of Athens" student organization category.
Auditions for the 2019-20 season are open to all that are interested and will be announced on the team website. For more information on the Ohio University Dance Team, visit http://bobcats-danceteam.wixsite.com/ohiouniversity-dance.