SKHS dance team knows the drill

They step onto the floor and the music starts. Feet and pom-poms move in time to the rhythmic beat. Step. Kick. Turn.

But these aren’t the South Kitsap cheerleaders entertaining the crowd during halftime. Instead, they are the often lesser known dance-team members.

And co-coaches Freda Evans and Kelly Ogan are hoping to change that perception. Each high school in the state determines whether dance-and-drill is classified as a sport or an activity. Last year, South’s team couldn’t practice until December because it ran as a sport. So the Wolves’ dance team -- drill isn’t a part of the program -- will be an activity this year.

Evans said dance teams cannot perform at optimal levels as a season sport because of the intricacy of the routines, which often last a few minutes.

“Some of them have a jazz background and others have a hip-hop background, so we can work with them to accentuate their skills,” she said of the dancers.

With more than three months until competitions begin, team Lieutenant Jocelyn Janshen, who will be a junior, said the team can be more prepared when the season commences.

“With having our season so short, it was stressful,” she said. “People didn’t know what to do.”

One potential challenge of the longer season is maintaining the dancers’ focus for a long time, but Evans doesn’t see that as an issue.

“I think a lot of them are trying to bring the program to the next level,” she said. “A lot of it is internal. They want to go to state.”

The coaches and Janshen, who recruited at least a quarter of the 20-member team, agreed the earlier start helped bring in more members. One is senior Jordan Kehrer, who was a cheerleader during wrestling season last year.

“This year I devoted my life to dancing,” said Kehrer, who hopes to earn a dance scholarship. “I’m on four different teams.”

While Kehrer and others on the team have done cheerleading in the past, one member -- junior Danique Gigger -- does both. That might surprise some as there has been a stigma that dance members can’t make it as cheerleaders.

“We’ve kind of faced that challenge before,” Ogan said. “We want both programs to be a part of enhancing school spirit.”

Janshen agreed.

“That’s not true,” she said. “It’s just what you’re more into. It takes just as much work to do both of them.

“We really just want to improve how the school feels about us. We want to have the respect we haven’t had in previous years.”

And they’re putting in the hard work to get there. Dance incorporates several elements such as hip-hop, kick and pom. Ogan said South dropped drill about 10 years ago and estimates only about 10 percent of schools with programs statewide still have it in their programs.

“Dance fits kids needs better going into the future,” Ogan said. “The trend moved toward dance and that’s the way we’ve gone.”

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