Category: Leadership


Trying out for a University Team

Dancing before 40,000 - 50,000 (girls with Airforce boys)

‘There is a difference between University Level Dancing, 4 year college dancing, and 2 year college.

If you are planning on trying out for a dance or cheer team at a University, note that tryouts are generally held in April for University level dancers. Tryouts consist of across the floor technique, including leaps, turns, kicks, the works. Most require you to learn a short routine as well.   Two and four year colleges generally do the same.

The dance teams at a university also work with the cheer teams – thus you have the spirit team. You also work with the band, and do flags; the pep band.  Pep band is  a combination of dance, cheer and marching band. They get along with each other wonderfully! This is not a dance class, this is an actual team that you can receive college credit for. It’s a sport.

These teams are not all about ballet, or drill team, or modern dance for that matter.  While many members have had those genre’s of dance in their life time – it’s more! Ballerinas have wonderful technique, but, there are those who don’t  get the jazz,  hip hop, and pep, that they need to understand on a college level dance team.  A large amount of modern dancers need speed “pep”. If you’ve only danced on a  drill team  in high school, your chances get slimmer as you come up against dancers who have trained all their lifes.

Competitive dancers “studio trained” who have grown up in the dance world fair better than most. A lot of the  top soloists go this route. Almost all of the dancers on these teams have life long dance credentials. Meaning, they didn’t start their dancing careers in high school. They have done it their whole lives.  To many of them, competition is part of everyday life.  That is the world I understand.

It is worth it to talk to dancers who have made it on a professional  university level team, especially if you are planning to tryout. I am talking university level/pro.  Not many 2 or 4 year colleges compete at the University level, not in Utah anyways.

University or College level dancing is the best experience you will ever have. It can also be your worst experience. You may think you are top diva in the dance sport in your home town. But now you are confronted with top diva’s from all over the state, and nation, and some of those diva’s are GOOD!

Most university level dancers will tell you that the directors require perfection. You don’t talk in line. You don’t breath in line. You work!

These are real teams. A number of the dancers are also instructors at studios, drill advisors,  state drill judges,  and/or members of pro NBA/NFL cheer teams .

You will and should work as hard on a University team as you would on a  professional NBA or NFL dance team.  YOU will work.


You have to have a standing back tuck to make the squad at the University level. That and a whole lot more.

The level and the knowledge that dancers and cheerleaders gain at the university level is tremendous.  You are now  learning from the pros. These dancers have earned respect.  Many  of them are “invited” to become judges at competitions, or become advisors.  It’s all in the training.  Age is not a factor –  technique is.

It’s an honor to have a professional call you out and invite you to attend trainings. Not your mom, not your coach, but a pro. Have you been invited? Respect those people who have. Because you know what – the knowledge in their heads will be the knowledge that will in later years be running the more successful studios.

To be an alumni at the university level, you need to be on the team for an entire year. If you make a year “you earned it”. But first you have to make it through tryouts.

There are numerous dancers who would do anything for their team. This is an area you have to be cautious of. Your studies can slip away on you really quickly. You have to be self disciplined in this setting. Talk to those girls who have been there.

If you are a drill team member and you aren’t on a studio floor “boo”. You need to be doing solo’s at competitions. YOU NEED those score sheets from those judges. Those judges are going to tell you the truth, because your coachs and directors may not.

Did I mention you would get your feelings hurt at dance competitions? You will. But, if you really think you are good enough – you will take those scores sheets with the LOWEST score, and you will learn from those. Pay someone to train you!

I would rather have you walk onto that campus and try out for your dream team with your eyes wide open, than give you false hopes.  You have to be on your game.

Dancing on a university dance team is a blast!  Do it if you can.  But, if  you aren’t self motivated, it might not be the place for you.  Within the first two weeks on the team, everyone on campus will know your name, your business, your major, and your friends.  It is high PR! Sometimes that can be a real distraction to your studies.  You have to weigh your options.  What is really best for you.

I choose to tryout and I felt honored to make the team.  I have the highest respect for my team mates.  I know how hard we worked.  I also respected my coach Lori Rupp.  She taught me well, and I will use those skills I learned from her in my future dance instruction, with my own students.

Good luck to you all that are heading to tryouts.  Some of you will drive, some fly in from states far away, and some will walk across the block.

However you get there, know that you have to be on your game!  Your competition is hoping you aren’t.



How many times have we thought that to give is to receive? Well, true volunteers feel that way. They give out of their own need. The need to feel like they are contributing to a greater whole. Without true volunteers the work might never get done.

Volunteerism isn’t something you get paid to do. There are those who go into volunteerism expecting something in return; a political favor, a job, money, lime light, etc. But for the true volunteer – it’s for the warmth and knowledge of knowing you’ve done a good job, and you may have helped another human being, or special cause.

There are so many things that people can volunteer for. You can coach, work with children, visit the elderly in the hospital, make flyers for a campaign, or do surveys for medical services. The list is endless, the need is great.

True volunteers are often overlooked. They might not even let others know they are working in the background. Some people are just givers. They give of their money, and time. Many don’t like to be noticed for what they do. They don’t feel the need to be recognized. They gain from the experience in other ways. That is their reward – knowing they have helped a cause.

When looking at volunteer work, one needs to be committed to staying the course. Sometimes volunteer work can be very emotional for the giver. Working in shelters, helping animals, dealing with troubled youth. Nothing is ever for sure in anything one will do in life.

But there is a lesson in volunteerism. If you do it, and you do the best you can, you will gain self confidence and a reliance on yourself that you may not have had before.

Leaving the “self” out of the formula for volunteerism is the first step
to being an effective volunteer. You might find yourself handing out clothing or standing in a kitchen soup line dishing out food to the needy. Maybe that isn’t your idea of volunteerism. There are other things that one can do. Volunteering at your local K-12 schools to help teachers with projects and field trips. These are areas that also require a different set of skills and emotional awareness. Working with children from K – 6 grade is very different than working at the middle school and/or high school levels. Needs change. Volunteer needs also change.

As we age in life, the things that we once thought important may be better handled by younger people who have the drive and zeal to handle them. Working at a marathon is a good example! Age brings with it a whole different set of priorities and meaning to each and every one of us. As we age and learn more, we begin to seek out organizations like Rotary, sororities, and non-profit organizations that do community service in many different fields. Helping to raise funds to build a park, or a walkway is another form of volunteering. I know many of you may have done volunteer work when you were younger, working at dinners to raise prop money and gym fees. You were part of something – and had fun at the same time.

When you see those ladies and men sitting at the polls during election time, it should be noted that – that is an all day event. You are there from sun up to sun down, and many times later if you are counting ballots. Why do people do it? Because they want to serve. They want to feel that self appreciation of doing a job well done.

Volunteerism has its ups and downs, like all things in life. Sometimes we go into things full steam and believe we can truly help, only to find out that we don’t have the skills necessary to help by ourselves alone. Learning to work as part of a team when volunteering , helps you to overcome some of this self doubts about our own abilities to help others. A team of people that work together, not as a group of unknowns, but rather a team of individuals with the same goal, the same purpose, and the same drive.

Understanding ones own limitations in volunteering is also important. You can’t be all things to all people. You can only be you. You are one. Learning to pick the right volunteer position that will give you the greatest self  appreciation is an art.  But do try. Try often.

Volunteers are what make us a nation. Our greatest virtue comes from the love and support of volunteers all across this nation reaching out and helping others. Truly we are the greatest country in the world. We are great because of our volunteers. Remember our service people fighting in the war: our community leaders who struggle over political issues to make life better for everyone, the fireman, the coach, and the little old ladies who stitch quilts for the family who has lost everything. Every body has a place. Everyone has a purpose. You just need to find yours.

Some people find volunteering in their writings and drawings. Being able to write articles for non-profit organizations or donating a piece of art for an auction. Its all about caring. Caring for others. There is no greater gift you can give than to give of yourself.

Volunteer – you are needed. Volunteers are what make this country great.

Asking for help

When you are dancing in school, the idea of becoming an “alumni” might not be the first thing that comes to your mind. But after you have been out of school and away from dance for a while, it takes on a whole different meaning.

Maybe you have kids of your own now – maybe even grand kids! The alumni of any school, studio, or national organization is what brought you to where you were in the first place – the dance floor. It is there that your memory, your past, and in some cases your future were formed.

Most alumni’s have been known to do a host of charitable events, sponsor dancers, and even kick in money for rooms and travel for active members. You might find yourself looking at your past team and all those coming up behind you. -How are they doing? -Is there a need? -Could you help? Sometimes helping means getting on the phone, making calls, or handing out flyers. For others it is cash donation. As an alumni you are probably more than happy to help out.

Doesn’t matter how you choose to help, be that organiziing a fundraiser, sponsoring a trip , or just paying for car wash tickets. Help those dancers who may be looking at cuts during their dance season regain hope.

Most of us have danced just about everywhere. We’ve danced in hallways, commons, cafeterias, outside, on the side of a mountain, and even on an old city park stage filled with splinter wood. We’ve danced in the streets, carrying flags, and wearing batman costumes. We can always find a floor. What we can’t always find is the funding for costumes, travel, and fees. That is where we need our alumni.

My freshman year we bought used costumes from dancers who were graduating high school. We didn’t have bags that year unless someone gave us one. We were paying off prior team debts, with current funding. So this isn’t a new thing. Parents from my studio days helped make costumes and props.

A list of alumni should be available at your school district or local college, university, or studio. You should always be including them in your plans. Alumni like to be recognized too! Sponsor your own alumni dance. Most alumni would be grateful to get back on the floor and perform – just for kicks and giggles.. You could get your school to sponsor a basketball game and give the money to your team to help with dance costs.

The community sitting on the stands are packed with alumni. Most alumni don’t mind paying for an alumni shirt to dance in, and to pay for a special dinner. $50 a pop – you keep a cut. That is what alumni can do for you!

Sometimes the need is money. My university dance team alumni, the Crimsonline, sponsors the Utah State Drill every year. It is their largest fundraiser. The Crimsonline has been successful enough to even be able to award small scholarships to the members of their team. That was a nice perk! The Crimsonline also dances at at drill state; they also invite BYU’s cougarettes, UVU wolverines; SUU has also attended in the past, as well as other college and university teams throughout the state. The idea is that all the dancers throughout the state get the chance to see ALL the alumni state wide. You set your rivalries aside for this. Here – all teams are equal. We are nothing without each other.

You need your alumni. Many scholarships are awarded from various alumni associations. At the high school level, you still can solicit your alumni to help you in time of need. Alumni can work with your school in helping with travel, motel, and chaperone costs. You may have to get volunteers to help with your choreography, rather than purchase it.

As future alumni yourself, you may have to begin working a little harder than you had in the past. Bump it up a notch. You may have to do a number of extra fundraisers to help those who struggle financially – get costumes. Take a step back even future into your past and see if you remember doing a lasagna dinner to get your fees paid? A spook alley? How about selling cookie dough?

Programs come and go. Alumni’s remain. It is the one thing they cannot take from you. It is the one position that you can help with the most. Financially, teams need all the help they can get. If your program is looking at serious cuts – don’t wait until they take it away. You need to be on you’re “A” game – the “Alumni game” now. You need to be actively going after the help and support of those that have gone before you. Embrace them, or you might not be dancing at all. Call on all your resources. The alumni may be what is standing between you and your ability to go to drill state, that special completion, or next years camp.

I just finished up my first reunion with my alumni. It was a wonderful experience. All members paid in advance to carry the fees for costumes and dinner. It was well organized and it was great to be back out on the field in front of 40,000 university fans.

It’s your turn! Keep the dream alive for someone who is coming up behind you. Donate where you can, get involved. Call your high school or local college – let them know you want to help. If a current member gives you a call – tell them you will help.