Lack of support is hindering one of Tech’s biggest supporters.The Golden Girls dance team participated in the National Dance Alliance’s Collegiate Nationals in Daytona over the weekend. While there, the team realized just how much of a disadvantage they have compared to colleges that get more support not only in attendance, but financially as well.
“I just think that we support football and basketball whole-heartedly,” said McKenzie Simon, three-year member, “but we don’t get support in return.”
“Tech does offer a great deal of money toward Athletics,” said Casey Owens, two-year member. “However, they neglect the dance team, which takes just as much effort, if not more, than the other sports. The dance team brings spirit to the school and gets hardly anything in return.”
The Golden Girls competed with two different dance routines in two different categories at NDA’s nationals. In the first category, Open Division 1, the team competed against 13 other Division 1 schools. The second category, Hip Hop 1, put the team against 15 Division 1 and 1A schools. Nearly all of the schools Tech was against have dance as a major or minor and have support for that school’s dance program. Most of the schools also offer scholarships to their dance teams.
Sam Houston State University’s dance team was the winner of the Open Division 1 category. The team is completely supported by the university.
According to SHSU’s website, “The team is supported both financially and administratively by the university, which makes participation with the squad very affordable. The university, through student service fees, pays for a number of expenses that the typical high school and/or junior college may not be able to afford. For example: all uniforms, poms, duffel bags, summer camp expenses, choreography fees, and travel expenses are paid for by the university. Dancers pay for their own summer camp outfits and shoes, which average about $175.”
Each member of Tech’s dance team has to buy his or her own shoes, competition costumes, practice clothes, bags, and the cost of travel to and from competitions. This year, each member had to pay more than $350 out of pocket.
The team does not have a studio in which to practice. Instead, they rely on using the gyms in the Fitness Center. The lack of mirrors and a dance floor hinders the team.
The team does not receive any scholarships, so members are more likely to quit throughout the season. For the 2011-12 school year, 22 people were chosen, but only 14 members made it to the competition.
Co-captain Amanda Dunham said, “Most people don’t realize we work hard year-round. We spend time, energy and money supporting other TTU Athletics programs during football and basketball seasons.
“On top of that, we have our own competition season. We put in three practices per day and travel to compete against schools in the SEC, ACC, and the Big East. We love all the different things the team experiences but would like to be treated and funded as the athletes we are.”
“We don’t get anything at all,” said Senior member Leah McCaleb. “We should at least get our uniforms paid for.”
The team relies on fundraising throughout the year, but fundraisers alone don’t cover everything. The team collected enough money this year for some new uniforms. After the uniforms were bought, there was not enough money left over to buy anything else.
The team only has enough money to pay for a choreographer every other year. The years they can’t hire one, the team relies on each other to come up with routines.
“We work just as hard as any other athlete,” sophomore Ashlee Maynord said. “Just because dance isn’t as focused on as other sports doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get the same scholarships or support.”
Heather Howard, two-year member said, “It’s definitely discouraging to not have administrative or monetary support from the school and student body really makes you look at the situation.”
Sophomore Preston Weaver said, “Getting nothing at all after all our hard work is a really low blow to us.