It’s My Party, I’ll Dance If I Want To

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Sweethearts perform on Good Morning Texas


Many emotions come with being a dancer including nerves, stress, and frustration as well as inspiration, passion, and comfort in knowing there is a team with which to “fit in”. Some people visualize dance as nothing more than moving bodies; however, for the Sweethearts Dance Team, it is a way to express these emotions in a unique way.

The feeling of apprehension and thrill comes into play most when the team performs on the field. The dancers find themselves wondering if they made any mistakes, when it is their time to walk, if the whistle blew yet..all while having to keep smiles on their faces and their movements as sharp as they do when rehearsing.

“You stop thinking and let the muscle memory, from hours of practice, dictate your movement for you. As soon as the dance ends, your mind comes back and a million thoughts race through your mind at once,” junior Lieutenant Catie Webb said. “It feels amazing, especially if you like adrenaline.”

Being on this team requires commitment, devotion, respect for others, and a great deal of time. The girls and their directors must dedicate a huge amount of their schedules to practice, competitions, games, and other performances as well as fundraisers and other events the team attends.

“I think it gets overwhelming sometimes, usually because I am an over-the-top kind of person,” Sweethearts Dance Team Director Tara Barnett said. “I like for it to be done big and right so I add a lot of extra pressure to myself and the girls to make sure we always put on our best show.”

The girls must learn to juggle school, family, and other activities with their lifestyle of being a Sweetheart. They perform at every football game, pep rallies, basketball games, inner elementary schools, and other various communities. Recently, they were invited by Lt. Colonel Davidson to perform a tribute routine at the Navy Ball.

“The dance team was able to be a part of a special tradition that is celebrated all over our country and we have the NJROTC to thank for this experience,” Barnett said.

Sometimes the girls must miss out on movie weekends with their friends, hours of sleep, and other plans in order to attend dance-related events. Fortunately, they have a whole family they substitute their time with. The girls become closer as the season progresses and they begin to feel more like a family instead of a team. Of course with a group of teenage girls, some minor arguments break out every once in a while. However, they are always resolved.

“The girls on the team get more comfortable with each other and we all grow and become closer as a team,” sophomore Isabel Cruz said.

As the seasons alternate, the routines and genre of dances performed changes too.

“Each season requires a different skill set, time commitment, performance commitments and learning opportunities,” Barnett said.

These talented girls do not face the problem of being uncoordinated or unskillful. Every member has a special flair to help her stand out. However, some obstacles faced by the team include struggling with the appropriate responses to high school drama, not having enough hours in a day to accomplish tasks, and injuries.

“[There] haven’t been many issues this year though,” Webb said.

Advice given to other girls planning to try out for the team might be to never take any of the moments for granted. The hours of practice, stretching, buying flashy costumes, and holding hands while praying before a performance are all unforgettable moments later on in life.

“[My] all-time favorite moment for me as the director is when they are able to come back and show their successes to the current team and share with me all of the great things they are doing with their life,” Barnett said.


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