Dance Team Joins Athletic Community as a Varsity Sport
by Siobhan Richards
Not many athletes have to fight for their team every year, but for members of the dance team, that has been their reality. Dance team has officially become a recognized varsity sport this year, after pursuing the issue for four years.
After getting approval from school committee and enduring the three year probation process, current seniors Aly Haley and Hannah Farrell now lead the team they’ve pushed for since their eighth grade year.
“The girls have worked really hard the last four years, and it’s just so great that they can take something that they do after school, at night, almost every single day of the week for years, and they now get to show that to their peers. Dance is a sport. They are athletes who work extremely hard, and they now have the opportunity to show it. It’s great,” coach Kelly Haley said.
As a varsity sport they now have funding from the school and have access to any resources provided for the other recognized sports. Aside from the financials, the team is now able to have a senior night, but most importantly a varsity letter.
“This year we’ll get physical varsity letters, which is silly I know, but every other sport gets them. We work just as hard. It’s nice to get the recognition,” Farrell said.
Another improvement is the ability to have a full time choreographer to practice with them every day. In past years they would only have limited time with a choreographer, sometimes only an hour a week, due to budgetary restrictions.
“So it’s like if you went to soccer or football practice, and your captains had to run every practice except once a week when your coach was able to be there, but for a very limited time,” Farrell said. “Now that we’re a recognized sport, we have a choreographer coming in every day working with us for the entire practice.”
Previously, this left the captains to block their own numbers, spending hours doing what professionals should rather than learning the dance themselves.
“[Before] it felt like I was the choreographer and not the dancer. Having to do both and run practice was hard to balance because I couldn’t see what I was messing up or what I needed to work on because I was watching the dance,” Haley said.
Even without the support of a choreographer on a daily basis, the team still performed at competitions. The rigor and intensity of the dance had to be there to place against other varsity dance teams.
“It was really annoying before especially because when we compete at competitions, we’re competing as a varsity team,” Aly Haley said. “At that level, the other teams have 30-50 girls and a full time choreographer.”
The dance team faces 12 other recognized varsity dance teams, including Newton North and South, Framingham, Plymouth, and Needham. Though the other schools are all larger, the team has still been competitive in past years, placing first at an invitational competition, and second at the regional competition last year.
The dance team has become an important part of the HHS community, which joined the dance team in the varsity sport flashmob at the Homecoming Rally.
“I think to other people being a recognized sport is kind of old hat, and people don’t realize how much it truly matters to be a varsity sport,” Farrell said. “Since we know what it’s like not to be a sport, to now be recognized as one, it’s a really big deal.”