Dance team leaves Daytona with trophy

By Jay Bushen | 4/12/15 8:06pm


Determination paid dividends for the Laker Dance Team during its trip to nationals.

After finishing second last season by a tenth of a point, GVSU earned its third national championship in five years by narrowly edging Mt. San Antonio College for first place in the NDA Division II Open Dance category. The Lakers also won a choreography award for the third year in a row.

Teams are able to compete in two of three events at nationals: team dance, hip-hop and open. GVSU performed well but finished second in hip-hop, as Mt. San Antonio took first and prevented the Lakers from winning a coveted double title.

Still, winning a NDA championship was a once in a lifetime experience for the Lakers.

"It was the best experience of my life," said junior Courtney Travis. "I'm honored to be a national champion."

For the Lakers, the Florida visit was far more of a business trip than a vacation. Fourth-year coach Rael Orao said it took countless hours of practice to perfect their routine.

“We started planning this whole thing last year at nationals,” Orao said. “We got second place last year and it was exciting, but disappointing. We made sure we did everything we could to not have any regrets.”

Orao, co-head coach Katy Allen-Nyenbrink and the Lakers wanted to win them both, but were happy to see the team come back with a trophy.

“The girls got off the stage and were ecstatic,” Orao said.

The experience was nerve-racking at times, especially since results are announced in reverse order.

When the announcer got to second place on Friday, the anticipation was soaring. And when the Lakers heard, “From Walnut, California…” emotions came out.

"It was immediate tears," said senior captain Shelby Chambers. "We were all holding hands and standing in line with each other and the second we heard that 'W' we all started crying and hugging."

The Lakers were able to enjoy the Florida weather for a short time after the competition, but plans of winning two national championships in 2016 are already being put in place.

Those looking to try out for the team are encouraged to register online and email Auditions are at the GVSU Recreation Center Dance Studio, Room-FH160 from April 24-25. For more on the club, feel free to follow @DanceGVSU on Twitter.

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