by Summer Mengarelli

The Greenville College dance team had an exciting school year helping to support the football and basketball teams and contribute to the student section’s enthusiasm. After rigorous tryouts at the beginning of each semester, the spring semester team consisted of eight girls: seniors Cassie Bierberstein, Leigh Ann Buchholz, and Mary Deterding; juniors Shiowa Hanson, Kearsta Ornellas, Lexi Simmons, and Jordyn Weiland; and sophomore Bonnie Parsell.

Their intense practices, during which they often rehearsed several dances at once, allowed them to perform a different routine at each home game this year. Choreography included various styles such as hip hop, pom dance, lyrical, and contemporary. Under the direction of co-captains Lexi Simmons and Kearsta Ornellas, the team choreographed their own dances, which allowed them to grow closer throughout the year. “Every dancer choreographs at least one of the dances, either on their own or in a pair,” said Mary Deterding. “Because of this, we end up spending a lot of time together aside from practices and performances. We honestly become a little family that supports each other, both in dance and in life.”

Aside from their usual halftime dances at football and basketball home games, the dance team performed at several special occasions. The girls collaborated with the cheer squad on a routine that consisted of hip hop, pom dance, and gymnastics, all set to a mashup of pop songs, which they performed at Midnight Madness. Another favorite was the senior dance, set to the song “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa. This performance was especially meaningful for the three girls slated to graduate this May.

Several girls said their favorite event was the guy-girl dance that they performed around Valentine’s Day in February. For this performance, each member of the dance team was responsible to find a dance partner who practiced with them in the weeks leading up to the event. Co-captain Lexi Simmons said, “Our guy-girl dance in February gives us the perfect opportunity to get the school involved.” Deterding added, “It was really relaxing compared to the others,” because the dance consisted of simpler choreography, and the introduction of outsiders to the team allowed for a more laidback experience.

The Greenville College cheer squad also had a successful year. The team consisted of seniors Brianna Anderson, Isaiah Coleman, Connor Earleywine, Andres Flores, and Marisa Lovato; juniors Tywon Bender, Derek Greifzu, Elaina Renehan, and Deja Sawyer; sophomores Jayda Fowler, Miguel Kronbach, and Bradley Stubbs; and freshmen Sara Brewer, Shannon Niehaus, and Ka’Myra Walls. Sawyer said, “I had a great last season cheering. We had some ups and downs, but we were a family and I’m really going to miss being a part of that. I’ll be connected to these people for the rest of my life and I love them with all my heart.”

Under the guidance of coach Sean Anthony Washington, the squad was named national champions in the Large Coed College Division at nationals in Fayetteville, N.C. this year. The squad also took home a national championship in the Mascot Division and grand championship in the College Division. Senior Isaiah Coleman said, “Cheer is harder than it looks, but I enjoyed the different aspects of it. The trust, the hours we put in, and the chemistry we built all helped us become national champions.”

Through their involvement in both the football and basketball teams, the Greenville College dance team and the Greenville College cheer squad not only encouraged and supported the athletes, but also boosted enthusiasm and Panther pride in the student section. The men and women on the teams grew to be a family, becoming closer than just team members, while enriching Greenville College’s athletic department.

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