Carrington dance team makes history at stateRecently 16 girls from Carrington, N.D., made North Dakota history as the first dance team ever to sweep a state competition.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Recently 16 girls from Carrington, N.D., made North Dakota history as the first dance team ever to sweep a state competition.
The Carrington Cardinaires swept all four categories on Jan. 28 and 29 in Grand Forks at the North Dakota Association of Dance and Drill’s State Dance Team Championship.
This is something no Class A or Class B school has ever done at the state level since the sport became official in the early 1990s.
“I think we’re all still in a little bit of shock, it was very surreal,” said Shaunette Koenig, Cardinaires coach. “It’s amazing I knew the girls could do it, but yet the feeling of making history like this I can’t even put it into words.”
This season the Cardinaires danced for all home games, an invitational in Bismarck and the state competition in Grand Forks. The team has practiced every school night since early October and even on some weekends.
“There are some long nights and long hours involved in this for the girls, and a lot of commitment,” Koenig said.
It paid off at the Alerus Center when the girls entered a fourth competition, even though that meant the other three routines would lose some practice time.
“They wanted to do it and I knew they could and that’s exactly what they did,” Koenig said. “They proved that they wanted it.”
The Cardinaires still swept the four categories: jazz, pom, high kick and hip hop.
“That’s just what everyone wants to do and I don’t think we could really pick three of them because we wanted to do all four of them,” said MaKayla Schroeder, a senior captain and choreographer. “So we decided to go for it.”
But the road to four dance championships started before school even got in session last fall. Four senior captains who are also choreographers — Schroeder, Miranda Peterson, Ashlyn Riedesel and Kelly Vold — and two other junior choreographers started planning the routines last summer.
“However many hours of choreography, then teaching the routines and then, if coach thinks something doesn’t work right or flow well, then we fix it and change it,” Vold said.
Koenig praised the hard work from her seniors and the rest of the team throughout the season.
She also praised the effort other Class B schools put in. Schools like Hazen, Underwood, Garrison and Kindred are always in the mix, Koenig said.
“Every year all those teams have strong years and they’re all very good competitors,” she said.
Peterson’s hard work also paid off in ways other than the four titles this year. She was the winner of the Class B North Dakota Association of Dance and Drills annual $1,000 scholarship.
The only other Cardinaire to win that honor was Jane Aljets in 2005.
“We had to write a lot about all the different activities that we’re in, and the community events we’re in,” Peterson said. “I’m in a lot, I do a lot and I’m honored I got the scholarship.”
Still Koenig said it comes down to a team effort and the ultimate goal is more than a championship plaque.
Dance teaches girls skills like teamwork, dedication and time management, she said.
“It’s not about the trophies — that’s what I try to make them remember,” Koenig said. “What they’re going to carry with them is about the memories, it’s about the leadership — that’s what I want them to focus on.”
That message rang true with the senior class.
Vold said dance is so much more than putting on a halftime show, but more of building character and lifelong lessons, like putting your best effort forth in everything you do.
The coach and seniors said they are confident next year’s squad will continue and do Carrington proud.
“I know that they’re willing to put in the work for it and they’re willing to do it again,” Vold said.
Those who missed the state dance tournament in Grand Forks have a chance this weekend to catch the championship routines.
The Cardinaire’s Valentine’s Show starts at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Carrington High School gym. All different levels and ages of dancers will be on display — including some moves from the Cardinaires’ fathers.
Tickets are $3 for adults, $2 for students and preschool and younger get in free. There will also be a bake sale, silent auction and door prizes with all proceeds going towards the Cardinaires.
“I hope that everyone has the excitement that we do because I know at state we were just pumped up to perform and we had the energy that was needed to execute through routines,” Vold said. “So I hope we can show them, just like we did at state.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org