Hillcrest drill team finishes previous season, begins new year onlineAug 17, 2020 03:13PM ● By Julie Slama
Hillcrest High drill team performed and competed all season including at football games with the Hillcrest mascot, Harvey, but the squad missed out on presenting their season-ending showcase in person. (Photo courtesy of Riley Mathis)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
About 50 Hillcrest High students found the choreography on an online link, learned it on their own, and then, filmed themselves performing and submitted it to a selection committee within eight days.
“All our dancers did a good job; they were prepared and took the initiative and followed through,” said drill team adviser Chelsea Divine, who said the first online auditions exceeded the normal 30 or 40 girls who tryout in person.
The HD squad narrowed to 33 dancers including 19 returnees, showed their ability in their dancing from doing the splits to being able to jump and turn. The military and jazz combo showed their strength, flexibility and technique, Divine said.
“It was good to see the students get excited especially as everything had seemed to be shut down. Some of the girls had cute hair and dance gear, and it was cool to see how resourceful they were, dancing in the grass, basements, football field or in a private studio. We felt everyone was able to find a place to dance so we held auditions so we’d be ready for this year,” she said.
This year’s team already is meeting their theme: “FEAR: Face Everything And Rise.”
The team has met online and started practicing with running 5Ks in the mornings, dancing on two-hour Zoom sessions three days per week, and on Fridays, meeting fitness and motivation challenges.
“We’ve even been running one mile after every practice, too; the girls do it, the coaches do it,” Divine said. “It’s been a weird time where we can be afraid of the uncertainty, so it’s cool to see the team rise up together and face everything. These girls are enthusiastic, excited and focused. They want to better their best.”
As of early summer, the team was planning to begin practicing in person, but also following social distancing guidelines and health safety checks. They also are planning to participate in four invitationals starting in December, leading them to state in early February but Divine knows that plan could be altered as guidelines may change with COVID-19.
Coaching alongside her is her sister, Erica Williams, who has coached a junior college team and danced for Arizona State, and her brother, Carter Williams, who is a top-ranked ballroom dancer and has choreographed for several companies, including Center Stage Performing Arts Studio.
This past year’s squad had six seniors who led the 17 sophomores and six freshmen to top three finishes in military, hip hop and character dances and placed in the top 10 in hip hop at the Contest of Champions National Competition at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
“The girls did awesome and had so much fun performing,” Divine said, adding that they brought back their trophies on the plane that will now be on display in the school’s new sports complex.
However, with the soft closure of schools in response to COVID-19, the drill team wasn’t able to perform their final showcase in person as planned. Instead, it was a 30-minute online showcase hitting the highlights of the year. A video also was pulled together by a dancer’s parents that showed their routines at football and basketball games to competitive routines.
“It was so wonderful to capture all those moments for the girls; it’s something to treasure,” she said. “It’s been the best team to coach in a long time. The girls are so united and love drill team. We worked hard, but the awesome leaders had great attitudes and that was shared by the team. We committed to our theme: ‘Do it with passion or not at all.’”