Ranch Reflection – A Mustang dancer looks back on the national stage

Last weekend the LRHS Silver Stars dance team scored straight “Superior” rankings at Orlando’s National Dance Team Championships.  It was the second straight year the dance team participated in the championships.  Silver Stars captain Sammy Kedziora, junior, is an experienced student journalist and shared her thoughts about the event in this special “Ranch Reflection.”

Sammy Kedziora – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL)-  Friday Feb. 3 marked the beginning of one of the most important events that the Silver Stars dance team attends, National Dance Team Championships (NDTC).

LRHS Silver Stars perform at the National Championships

We had to travel to Orlando that morning where we registered and got into our hotel rooms. Shortly after settling into our rooms, we went straight to practicing our routines. With it only our second year attending nationals, it was a little hard for us to focus since we had just gotten to the resort and there was a lot to see, but we eventually got back on track.

We spent the rest of the day walking around Disney Springs and had a team dinner at Planet Hollywood Observatory to relax and have fun before our big day.

With an early and rushed Saturday morning, we were out of our rooms and on the charter bus heading to ESPN Wide World of Sports, where our competition was held. Disregarding the cool morning weather, we found an open area on the sidewalk where we could stretch and warm up. We drilled our Pom routine a few more times before we went to the practice floor.

NDTC stays on a very strict schedule and allows a team only eight minutes on a practice floor. This gives the team the opportunity to review and perform their routine backstage with music on a mock of the actual stage.

The second our feet hit the floor, we were being timed and from that point on, we had to stay focused and efficient.

Once our eight minutes were up, the whole time that we were waiting backstage was filled with pep talks, last minute choreography reminders, and quick “good lucks” and “I love you’s”. In that moment, I could feel the strong bond we had with one another and how we had become one unit.

Once we were on the stage and our music started, everything was a blur of emotions, lights, and the dim silhouettes of people sitting and cheering us on in the audience. It wasn’t until the end of our routine that we were standing in a line for our final pose that I felt something I’ve never felt before. It was a combination of empowerment, accomplishment, adrenaline, passion, and pride.

We ran off stage to watch a recording of our routine and I started to tear up. Just those few minutes of being backstage, onstage performing, and off again reminded me why I love dancing so much. I knew that it would be a day and a feeling I would never forget.

Unfortunately, we did not place into the semi-finals with our Pom routine, but we were so pleased and excited from our performance that we didn’t worry about it. We also had to regroup and shift gears to our Jazz routine that we were performing later that same day.

After lunch and taking some time to watch other routines, we began preparing for our Jazz routine.

Once again we found ourselves on the practice floor and backstage. Knowing that this could possibly be the last time we would perform on the NDTC stage this season gave me chills yet hope that we would make it into semi-finals.

We came off stage from performing and, once again, had to wait for the results of who qualified for semi-finals. We were slightly let down when we didn’t hear “Lakewood Ranch High School” being called from the announcer but we were still positive about our overall experience at nationals.

Sunday was a long and relaxing day of watching the finals competition and enjoying time at Hollywood Studios for a closed park event for just the NDTC dancers. We also found out that we placed eleventh out of fourteen for our Pom routine and thirteenth out of nineteen for our Jazz routine. Also, that we were a mere 0.54 points away from qualifying our Jazz routine into semi-finals.

We ended the weekend spending time at Disney’s Magic Kingdom and as a junior and captain of the Silver Stars dance team, I would like to say that I have never been prouder of our team and that we only have room for improvement. We may have not taken home a national title, but instead we took appreciation, pride, and a strive to do better and push harder for next year.