Nazareth dance crew small but proud
Nazareth Roadrunners Compete At State
Updated: February 12, 2013 12:49PM
For Nazareth, success followed comfort.
The comfort is due in part to the team’s intimate size. The Roadrunners entered their season with the smallest team in six years. After 22 dancers performed last year, Nazareth has just 13 girls on the varsity this year.
“The special thing about this year’s team is they kind of came up the ranks together,” dance team coach Kelley Pennington said. “They’re kind of taking this task together and built their team together and worked really hard to be there. That’s what makes them a good team.”
Nazareth placed third in the 1A competition at the Andrew Sectional with 57.47 points to advance to the state meet in Bloomington on Friday. There, the Roadrunners scored 48.20 and came in 24th.
“Every one of those girls is different,” Pennington said, “and trying to keep them a team and happy and cooperating, it’s really hard when you get 22 people in the room with their own opinions and their own styles of dance and different backgrounds.”
Sophomores like Katie Cox and Molly Griffin have gone from being freshmen on a team of 22 to sophomores on a team of 13, a significant change according to Griffin. However 12 girls were on the team a year ago.
“This year, having only 13 girls, we’re a lot closer,” Griffin said. “With the smaller team, we’re like sisters, and we all work very well together and our bonding, I just love it, it’s like a family to me.”
It also helps that Pennington had coached many of the girls previously, both with the dance team and individually. Griffin and senior captain Sarah Radford, for example, had previously studied ballet with Pennington.
“I’ve been on the team with her for three years so we’ve gotten a really close bond,” Radford said. “She’s very supportive of us and she just lets us know all of the time that she’s so proud of us.”
With 13 girls there was pressure on every member of the team to stay healthy. Leading up to their IHSA state competition, three Roadrunners were relegated to taking notes on the sideline at one point. Radford said that the Roadrunners would do whatever it took to get healthy fast.
“We are going to have all 13 girls even if they’re feeling a little bit achy,” Radford said. “Everyone is resting up ... and stretching and taking baths and doing whatever they need to. We’re going to have all 13 on the floor even if they push through it.”
The varsity team includes: seniors Gabriela Eraci (La Grange Park), Laura Hill (La Grange), Carli Kebby (Westchester), Radford (Westmont) and Alexis Valiotis (Chicago); juniors Brooke Donnelly (Burr Ridge), Erin Getty (La Grange), Karina Rodriguez (Cicero) and Kaitlyn Yarka (Chicago); sophomores Cox (Oak Brook), Griffin (Berwyn) and Allison Rauch (Lemont); and freshman Ariana Surek (Clarendon Hills).