Photos by Ava Simonsen
After having 24 freshman girls tryout for 10 JV Lancer Dancer spots last spring, head coach Alexis “Bubba” Close worked along with the parents and administration to create a new C team for the freshman girls that didn’t make it. Because they had so many talented girls try out and get cut they developed the new team that Bubba has wanted to implement for a long time.
Audition week, filled with 6:15 a.m. tryout and endless eight counts, is one of the most stressful of the school year for Lancer Dancers. Annabelle Moore, like many other freshman, had been going to Lancer Dancer clinics since she was in elementary school. By the time she finished eighth grade, she was invested in the idea of being on one of the most coveted teams at East.
Moore, along with other 13 freshman hopefuls, sat on their beds clicking refresh until they received the news they were dreading: they would not be a Lancer Dancer. After receiving the news, the idea of a C team was brought up by a group of parents and then Bubba went to the administration to get approval.
“It’s especially important for freshman that we find ways to keep them involved and active because we want sure that they have opportunities to keep them invested in the school, so the new team was a good fit,” Principal John McKinney said. “Bubba had the vision and the parents provided a lot of support in getting that idea to come to fruition.”
Bubba then made the announcement to the girls and their parents. They would be Lancer Dancers, after all. For Moore, having a third team was some of the most exciting news of her summer.
“There are so many incredible dancers at the high school level,” Moore said. “I believe everyone in high school should have a chance to participate in something that they enjoy and are talented at, and I am beyond grateful that I get to.”
Bubba hoped this would be the response after she went to the administration to approve the third team, but there was a lot of work beforehand to ensure the team would exist. Including finding costumes, uniforms, and ironing out the details of the C team. The Lancer Dancers have built up an extensive collection of old costumes, uniforms, and bags that they passed along to the C team to cut costs.
The girls’ hard work and finding uniforms, was only part of it. They had to find a way to raise money which is why the C team will be participating in the Lancer Dancer clinics. Along with funding, Bubba also had to find a coach.
Bubba went to Liz Rogers, a varsity captain Bubba’s first year as head coach, and offered her the job as C team coach. Dancing at Missouri State for four years and working as an instructor at NDA, the camp and national the Lancer Dancers attend each year, Bubba thinks she, “couldn’t have found a better person for the job.”
“They put in so much time and effort outside of school to ensure that they’re the best that they can be,” Rogers said, “The team has a great dynamic. They each made a commitment to practice outside school hours which shows their dedication to this team.”
Rogers works with the girls three days acclimating them to the standards that the JV and varsity Lancer Dancers are held to. The JV and Varsity girls have embraced the new team as the another strong addition of their program.
“I think the team benefits those girls because they get to be a part of the program even though they didn’t make JV,” varsity dancer Maggie Mulligan said. “They are all so talented and it’s great they get be a part of the Lancer Dancer family. They all deserve it.”
Other strong high school dance programs had freshmen team and middle school teams for years. The differences in technique between the girls who made it and those got cut were so nominal that the C team is still an elite group of dancers and is enhancing the program.
“When we have this much talent, it can only make our team stronger and add to school spirit and give these girls a home at East,” Bubba said. “It’s a win-win.”