Hillcrest State Champion Drill Team Preparing for Upcoming Season
Aug 01, 2016 10:19AM
● By Julie Slama
Hillcrest High School region and state champion drill team performs on their home court. New members have been added and the team has averaged 20 hours of practice per week this summer. — Hillcrest High School
Hillcrest State Champion Drill Team Preparing for Upcoming Season [2 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Midvale, Utah - The Hillcrest High Husky drill team coach has challenging expectations for 22 returning and 11 new members — to improve on their dream season this past year that resulted in regional and state titles — which also gave them an invitational to an international competition where they won three of the six categories.
“It was so incredibly special and winning state, was like a cherry on top,” second-year coach Chelsea Divine said. “But I’m super excited about next year. We want to win again, but we want to better our best. We’d like to win more categories.”
Hillcrest drill has had a long successful history, which included Divine and her mother both participating on the team.
“I’m so lucky to be a teacher, to be a coach of my alma mater, to work with the kids and continue the legacy,” she said.
However, Divine credits much of the program’s success to her co-coach Brenda Searle, who coached her, and to her other former coach Michele Bosco, who retired last year.
“The girls are passionate about their sport and they work hard, but they also understand the legacy and have pride in adding to it,” said Divine, who choreographs the routines with Searle. “We love the creativity of dance and drill, but also the difficulty and precision of it.”
In addition to this year’s regional and state competitions, the team participated in several invitational meets, won overall 4A champion and sweepstakes champion at Corner Canyon High School’s invitational, took five first places and one second at both Juan Diego Catholic High School’s invitational and Copper Hill High School’s invitational and swept all six categories at the Rocky Mountain qualifier.
However, the team isn’t resting on their laurels. After state, the team held auditions. To be considered for the team, she said that participants need three teachers’ recommendations, need to demonstrate dance technique in military, hip hop and jazz, demonstrate flexibility, show enthusiasm and sportsmanship and maintain a grade-point average of 2.5, although Divine said many of the girls’ GPAs are much higher.
Competing and performing at half-time of football and basketball games isn’t all the Husky drill team does. Many hours are spent performing community service. They’ve gathered shoes and collected blankets they’ve donated. And this past year, they participated in a drill team tribute to help Cyprus High drill team member Alexis Strong in her battle of cancer.
“The girls understood how quickly things change from performing at the beginning of fall to facing cancer by Christmas. They learned not to take things for granted. They quickly adopted the theme, ‘Own It,’ and learned we own each day to make it our best — in school, in practice, in each day of life,” she said.
That was one key to their success, Divine said. Another, she said, was teamwork.
“The girls would get together last year and huddle together and cheer at the end of every practice. They had quotes and songs posted on magnets to motivate them in the office. They were just amazing girls, determined to make their dream of winning come true,” she said.
For example, at state last year, the team dressed as fortune tellers for the character dance and incorporated tambourines and rhythmic gymnastic balls.
“They totally amped up their skills with brand new moves to demonstrate their flexibility and precision. Thirteen girls had to learn new skills. The routine had every girl performing aerials in sync,” Divine said.
The team finished second in that category at state on Feb. 6. They won dance and took second in military category.
Divine said it is the team’s most successful season since 2009, the last time the Huskies won the state title. After competing last year in 5A and being one of the top four teams, Hillcrest was moved to 4A classification this year to better match the school size.
However, Divine points out that this past season’s team was talented.
At the Miss Drill Team USA international competition April 1-2, the team won first in dance, lyrical and officers’ routines.
“We also had six soloists perform at the pageant,” she said.
In June, the team participated in a drill team camp and for most of the summer, they have been practicing 20 hours per week, gearing up for this upcoming season.
“Every girl is motivated and is passionate about being here. We have goals to improve, to win more than just one category at state,” Divine said.
Freshman Rebecca Palmatier is ready.
“I’m super excited to see where this season will take us,” she said. “Last (year’s) team was our dream team and I’ve gained so many friendships that will last a lifetime, but then, any Hillcrest team is a dream team. We’re ready to work hard and come back even stronger this year. With the help of our coaches…I know we can really conquer anything.”