Feb. 8—Muskogee High School junior Shay Grissom recalled her confidence when the MHS dance team arrived at the National Dance Team Championship earlier this month.
"I just had a feeling we were going to do good," Shay said. "I was really confident about me and my teammates doing well together."
And they did do well, placing eighth in the Universal Dance Association national competition, held Feb. 2-4 at Walt Disney World Resort.
The victory culminates more than seven months of practice and hard work, MHS dance coach Kyah Fields said.
Fields said a dance instructor from UDA visited MHS last June to evaluate the dance team. She said the 13-member team is made up of sophomores through seniors.
"We made superior ratings, so we qualified for nationals," Fields said.
Qualifying was just the start of a semester of work.
"It took a lot because we also competed in OSSAA," Fields said, referring to the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association.
"They have different dance rules, so we had a lot of practices," she said. "Most of us are athletes, so we practiced early in the morning, before school. Sometimes again after school."
Team members also had to raise money for lodging and transportation.
"However, we have really supportive parents for our team, and the community," she said. "So we were able to fund raise most of that money."
Fields said the team participated in the Game Day competition, "designed to showcase school's tradition while executing proper skills and technique."
"Really what they're looking for is tradition and overall spirit," she said.
The presentation included the traditional fight song, a spirit-raising routine and a time-out routine.
"Any of the Rougher fans who came to a home game saw us do a time-out routine at the end of the third quarter," she said. "We put them all together, back-top-back, into one routine."
Grissom said the hardest part of the competition was working to get there, "and making sure everything was clean and together."
"My favorite part was the bonding that we did before and working together before we went on stage, and praying," Grissom said.
Team members returned Tuesday after six days in Orlando. The event was hosted by the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World, Fields said.
She said the team's contributions go beyond competition. She said members are on the superintendent's honor roll and take concurrent classes. Many volunteer for projects and many play other sports, including softball, soccer and track. The team not only performs at football games, but at other city and school gatherings.
"They are the face of the school," Fields said. "I think they are used to hard work and are so successful at our other things as well."