Murray teen with Down syndrome, older sister excited as state drill competition approachesJan 03, 2022 03:14PM ● By Julie Slama
Bree Cox, center, dreamt of being part of the Murray High drill team with sisters, Adrie, left, and Kyra, right, years before she was old enough to try out. (Photo courtesy of Kecia Cox)
One thing Bree Cox didn’t anticipate was being an overnight media sensation as a 14-year-old.
A video her mother shot in May shows Bree telling her dad on the phone she made the Murray High drill team went virtual, causing most viewers to smile as the Hillcrest Junior High ninth-grade student broke down in tears of joy, unaware that she could cry when she was elated.
“I like I made it on the news,” said Bree, who has Down syndrome. “I am excited to dance.”
That excitement still carries on during drill’s competitive season as Bree and the rest of the team are working toward competing in 5A state in early February at Utah Valley University.
“Practices get pretty insane this time of year, but it’s nice to have a good team that we all love to make it all worth it,” said Bree’s sister, 17-year-old Adrie, who also is on the team. “We’re running our routines and cleaning them; everything is a little bit harder because they’re a lot more detailed and longer than our football performances. We nitpick all the little things to make sure that they’re ready and make sure we’re all doing the same thing.”
Their competition season kicked off Dec. 4 at Herriman High’s Mustang Classic, followed by competition at Davis High’s Davis Valley Classic Dec. 18. They also plan to take the floor at Roy High’s Royal Classic Jan. 15. The team competes in military, hip hop, jazz and show, a category added to the state repertoire last year.
For this year’s show competition, Murray will take its creativity to bring the character, Frozone, from the “The Incredibles” to life. To research the character, the team held an outdoor movie night where they watched the animated movie together.
“We have the music, lots of parts from the movie and the catchphrases he says in it, the costumes that are exactly like it and some girls who rollerblade to make it look like skating. It’s very fun,” Adrie said. “I really like show (category). It shows off your personality a lot more than military.”
The two sisters, at the encouragement of their coaches, were to compete in two-minute solo dances at Davis and Roy. Both dances were choreographed by teammates who selected their music. Adrie’s piece is called, “Girl,” while Bree’s dance, which shows off her flexibility with leg holds and kicks, is called “Love Your Heart.”
“I get to dance for people,” said Bree, who adds that she dances because it makes her happy. “I get to do the splits. I do a cartwheel. I like to show people what I can do.”
Adrie said people like to watch her sister perform as well. One thing that draws them in is her “facials,” which draws in viewers.
“Bree is really good at putting on a show for everybody. She has facial expressions that get everybody in the room to watch her. She just lights up the room,” Adrie said. “After all of our performances, all of my friends say, ‘You did great, but I got to be honest. I watched Bree the whole time because I just couldn’t keep my eyes off her.’”
Both sisters said besides the joy of dance, they dance for and with their teammates.
“I like my drill sisters,” Bree said, adding that she already has made some good friends.
Adrie said the same is true for her: “The team gives you built-in best friends which is always very nice to have when you’re going in high school.”
During Adrie’s freshman year, Murray made it to the state finals. Last year, the competed in the semifinals. This year, Adrie said the approach from their coaches is to focus on their dance and doing their best.
“As long as we put our best foot on the floor, then they’ll be happy with it, and we all know that if we really do put our best that we can make it to the finals. It’s an unspoken goal all of us really would love to do,” she said.
The team is coached by head coach Keylee Mundee and assistants Halle Dansie, Crista Peterson, Brooklyn Bowen and Joni Wouden.
Adrie and Bree began dancing when they were young, however, their mother, Kecia, said Bree set her mind to dance in high school when she was in grade school.
“Bree started dancing as soon as she could walk at age three, and has never stopped dreaming of being on stage with her sisters,” said their mother. “The dream (to be part of the drill team) started for Bree back when her oldest sister Kyra started drill six years ago. Kyra and Adrie did drill together for two years and then Kyra graduated and helped Bree try out for the team.”
With younger sisters, Mia, twins Claire and Livvy, who love to dance, as well as brother Noah, the Cox legacy of being involved in drill may be longstanding. In the meantime, there’s plenty of dancing and fun at home. When Adrie hears Bree say she’s the best dancer in the family, she laughs.
“As sisters on the team, we spend a lot of time together; you get a lot closer and work toward goals together. It’s really fun to see Bree improving and she really loves it. You can tell that she wants to work hard and the fight to get in all the dances, which is amazing,” Adrie said.
Bree said she liked watching Adrie dance, something she has done since she was younger as she watched both her older sisters perform. Then, she watched YouTube videos of their routines to learn and polish the moves for tryouts.
Going into her audition, Bree said she was excited, not nervous, because “I knew it.”
That hard work paid off in May, and now, both girls hope it will for their competitive season. Team practices began during the summer, followed by team three-hour workouts after school three days per week and also, from 6 to 8:45 a.m. every other weekday, which both girls admit the hardest part of drill is waking up to be ready at that early hour.
It also means after morning practice, Bree, and other ninth-graders walk to the nearby junior high for the rest of their day’s classes.
When there aren’t performances, Saturday practices also can be added. In the fall, Murray’s drill team performed at most of the home football games. They also will be taking the floor to perform routines at some of the home basketball games.
Bree remembers her first Murray High drill performance.
“I was excited. A lot of people came to watch,” she said. “It’s fun dancing.”