Cottonwood High School Drill Team Gunning for SuccessNov 06, 2015 10:07AM ● By Bryan Scott
By Sarah Almond
Imagine spending 16 to 20 hours a week spinning, leaping, splitting and lunging across a hard gymnasium floor. Then imagine coordinating and choreographing these spins, leaps, splits and lunges to match flawlessly with the moves of 23 other people. Put this routine to some upbeat music, and you’ll have the Cottonwood High School drill team, The Cottonwood Chaparrals.
The team of 24 girls has been practicing three and four days a week since Sept. 2, with two-a-days on Mondays, two-and-a-half-hour practices two or three days a week, and a five-hour practice on Saturday mornings.
“These girls have only been dancing together for a month, and other drill teams have been practicing since April or May,” head coach Kelsea Allen said. “So we’re having to play catch up to all the other teams.”
With competitions beginning the first weekend in December, the Cottonwood Chaparrals have less than a month to practice and polish three different regional routines: dance, military and character. In order to qualify for the state championships, the drill team will have to perform perfectly at the regional competition in January against division 5A powerhouses like Copper Hills, Brighton and Alta.
“Drill team is evolving right now,” Allen said. “Other teams have almost 40 dancers, and it’s like competition is becoming more focused on who has the most girls. So we’re a small team, but this group is literally the hardest working group of girls out there.”
Though the team held auditions on June 6, they didn’t start practicing as a group until the last week in August. Out of the 24 girls on the drill team this year, only one dancer, junior Sophie Ford, has been on the team previously.
“It’s been kind of a crisis year this year,” Allen said. “There were a lot of undedicated girls on the team last year, and pretty much all of them no-showed at tryouts. We only had six girls who stayed on the team.”
Allen and fellow coach Erin Burk encouraged the remaining dancers to promote the drill program throughout Cottonwood High School. Their recruitment efforts brought nearly 30 girls to this year’s Chaparral tryouts.
“Most of these girls have never danced before,” Allen said. “Our team is mainly made up of freshmen and sophomores, with only five juniors and one senior. There are 23 girls that have never had experience in this sport before.”
Though the Cottonwood Chaparrals are using this year as a time to build and improve, the girls on the team are dedicated, hard working and determined to improve.
“We really push each other to be better,” junior Saumolia ‘Leah’ Geralds said, and fellow teammate Lauren Bradfield agreed.
“Dancing and drill is a competitive sport,” Bradfield said. “But we’re encouraged by each other because we see how hard everyone is working, and we know that it will pay off.”
Considering the group has only been practicing together for a month, the sense of sportsmanship and teamwork is undeniable.
“It’s a totally different team than last year,” junior captain, and only returning dancer, Sophie Ford said. “A lot of girls on the team last year didn’t take it seriously, and we had absolutely no sisterhood. But this year we all have a great bond and we support and encourage each other.”
Although this may be a building year for the young Cottonwood drill team, their dedication and drive for success shows promise for the years to come.