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Varsity poms win first state championship in West history

Sophomores+Susie+Seidel+and+Sadie+Hershenow+perform+with+junior+Kaleiya+Andrews.+The+team+honed+their+technical+skills+and+stage+presence.+%E2%80%9CI%E2%80%99ve+learned+even+the+best+dancers+are+going+to+make+mistakes+when+they%E2%80%99re+performing%2C+but+as+long+as+you+keep+smiling+and+having+fun+no+one+will+even+notice%2C%E2%80%9D+Seidel+said.+
Sophomores Susie Seidel and Sadie Hershenow perform with junior Kaleiya Andrews. The team honed their technical skills and stage presence. “I’ve learned even the best dancers are going to make mistakes when they’re performing, but as long as you keep smiling and having fun no one will even notice,” Seidel said.

Sophomores Susie Seidel and Sadie Hershenow perform with junior Kaleiya Andrews. The team honed their technical skills and stage presence. “I’ve learned even the best dancers are going to make mistakes when they’re performing, but as long as you keep smiling and having fun no one will even notice,” Seidel said.

Pete Ferretti

Pete Ferretti

Sophomores Susie Seidel and Sadie Hershenow perform with junior Kaleiya Andrews. The team honed their technical skills and stage presence. “I’ve learned even the best dancers are going to make mistakes when they’re performing, but as long as you keep smiling and having fun no one will even notice,” Seidel said.

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Varsity Poms, led by senior co-captains Sydney Veltman and Julia DeFrank, competed at state Feb. 24 and were named 2018 State Champions. This is the first time the team has won the title in West history.

“When we found out we had just won first place we were all in a state of shock. After you hear the second place team and your team’s name hasn’t been called yet, the anticipation is so overwhelming. The feeling of hearing your team’s name being called as a first place State Champion is a feeling you’ll never forget. Everyone was jumping, cheering and crying together. We couldn’t believe it. All of our hard work paid off,” head coach Meghan McCreary said.

This is McCreary’s sixth year of coaching varsity Poms, and the team’s road to state has been long. Leading up to the competition, they practiced two hours after school four days a week.

“Each practice we worked on precision, flexibility, timing and showmanship. Our athleticism continued to spread and grew stronger each day,” McCreary said.

DeFrank worked with Veltman to build team relationships and credits much of the team’s ability to get through the months leading up to state to their success in cooperation.

“Our team dynamic really enabled us to win state,” DeFrank said. “We all worked really hard together and made an effort to stay connected because you can’t win a state title if your team is falling apart. You have to be in unity when you’re dancing, and everyone has to want it the same.”

The coaches are overjoyed because we witness what the girls are capable of every day at practice and all we hope for is to display our talents in the performance. That is exactly what the team did at state.”

— Meghan McCreary

For varsity Poms members, the success at state was a testament to the long hours and memories made in practice.

“Sometimes when we were bored we would do impressions and Bailey can do a really good cowardly lion from the ‘Wizard of Oz.’ It was so funny that we would all try to do it ourselves as a way to loosen up,” sophomore Susie Seidel said.

Two junior varsity members were promoted to varsity to supplement the team with their personal talents: sophomore Nayeon Ryu competed in kick and freshman Emma Roth performed in hip-hop.

“Practicing with varsity was really different from JV. I had come in the middle of varsity’s competition season so I was just trying to figure out what was going on at first. Overall the girls were super welcoming,” Ryu said.

You have to be in unity when you’re dancing, and everyone has to want it the same.”

— Julia DeFrank

The conditions that came along with competing as a varsity team member did not end at intense practices and included many schedule changes.

“We had to wake up at 3 a.m. the day of state so we could get to Mac’s house in St. Charles by 4 a.m. I’ve never had to do that before, normally on Saturdays, I wake up at like noon, so I was “shook”. I was very tired, very dead,” Ryu said.

Performing to the best of their abilities has always been a goal of the Poms team, but Veltman and Defrank were determined to take it farther in 2018 because of their looming graduation.

“I was so excited because that was our goal for the longest time and since it was our senior year we just kept talking about how we really wanted to work hard to accomplish that,” Defrank said.

Pete Ferretti

Senior Sydney Veltman, sophomore Kristin Wilson and sophomore Sadie Hershenow lean on each other, an act that relies on the cooperation and trust built during the months leading up to state.

For McCreary, achieving this long-awaited goal has brought her great pride as well.

“I’m ecstatic and proud. The coaches are overjoyed because we witness what the girls are capable of every day at practice and all we hope for is to display our talents in the performance. That is exactly what the team did at state. They rose to the occasion, pushed through the nerves and accomplished our goal,” McCreary said.

Despite Veltman and Defrank soon graduating, McCreary has high hopes for the future of Poms.

“We are unlike any other sport since we continue our season 365 days of the year; that’s a lot of time together. I enjoy the challenge, atmosphere, spirit and competition of Poms. I’m excited to see what the future holds for this program that is so young to competition but thriving with ambition to be great,” McCreary said.

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Varsity poms win first state championship in West history