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Murray Journal

Cottonwood Drill year includes state competition, California workshops

May 31, 2017 04:13PM ● By Julie Slama

Cottonwood drill team attended leadership and team-building workshops at Disneyland after competing at state. (Cottonwood High School)

By Julie Slama  |  [email protected]
After a season that included performing at the state competition, Cottonwood’s drill team packed their bags for sunny California.
It wasn’t a vacation spent in the surf and sand, nor was it days of intense dance classes. Instead, the team spent five days attending leadership and team-building workshops.
“It was an opportunity for them to bond through activities and share with their teammates,” said Erin Burke, who coaches the team with Kelsea McGregor. “This gave them the time to learn, reflect and build a vision to plan for the next year.”
The drill team, which already has had tryouts based on grade-point average, citizenship, teacher recommendations and performance, was back to practicing two hours a day, three days a week in May. A drill team camp in Park City was planned for June along with increasing practices to three hours per day, five days per week.
The team has a goal to not only repeat in competing at state this coming school year, but to improve and place in the top eight.
“Our goal is to push our program and qualify for state, but to keep improving. We had a surreal experience this year,” Burke said about the team that hadn’t competed at that level in five years.
The drill team, which got voted most improved team at last summer’s camp, competed in 5A region in January against top-seeded schools Copper Hills, Bingham and Brighton.
“It’s called the ‘blood bath’ region. Four teams advance to state and those three are a given so it’s always us and the other schools competing for that number four spot,” Burke said.
With the home floor advantage, Cottonwood packed their gym with family and friends cheering on the team.
“I told them this was their special minute on their floor and that they worked so hard all year to go out and be amazing—and they were,” Burke said.
When it was announced, Cottonwood placed fourth in both military and kick—edging out Jordan High, who finished fourth in dance—to get the overall fourth-place finish in region and a bid for state.
“You would have thought we took first place. The girls were so excited. They were hugging and it was like the world stopped for a minute. I was so excited for those girls. They are super close and this team is just amazing,” she said.
At state, the team competed in the semifinals, being one of the top 16 teams.
“It was like icing on the cake to be there. Every move, every routine was under scrutiny, but the girls did great. This team works so hard and has shown dedication and respect. It’s been an amazing year,” Burke said.
It wasn’t just about performing at the same level from year to year. Burke said that Cottonwood had a solid program for years, but when a coach left about five years ago, the program struggled and there wasn’t any consistency.
“The program almost was dropped when only 10 girls auditioned. I was the third coach in three years, but we went around, recruited and got girls to buy into the program. Less than five girls had danced, but they were willing to work their butt off. It was these girls, who are now seniors, who have shown leadership and set an example, and it has paid off,” she said.
That includes senior captain, Sophie Ford, who also was named her school’s Sterling Scholar in dance. She will return to help coach the team in the 2017-18 season.