Refresh, refresh, refresh.
The results of the Rock Chalk Dance Team auditions were posted on Twitter every five minutes. Seniors Audrey Phillips and Kara Lawrence refreshed their phones, iPads and computers non-stop throughout the afternoon of April 29 as they nervously waited to see whether or not their pictures would pop up on the screen.
First came Phillips’ photo taken during the final round of tryouts wearing the Rock Chalk Dancer uniform decorated with glittery blue and red. Lawrence’s photo followed a few minutes after.
After multiple screams of excitement and two big sighs of relief, Lawrence and Phillips realized their 14 years of dancing, four years of drill team and 13 years of friendship will continue next year, as new members of the Rock Chalk Dance Team. Phillips and Lawrence are the first girls from East to ever make the team.
Phillips’s and Lawrence’s dancing careers both started before kindergarten, where they first met. Phillips went to her first dance class when she was a tiny two-year-old, while Lawrence’s dancing career began at age four.
After going to their first basketball games at Allen Field House and seeing the Rock Chalk Dancers laugh, chant and dance from the sidelines, both girls dreamed to one day be on the team.
Lawrence was beyond ecstatic to attend Allen Fieldhouse for her first basketball game in sixth grade. She usually watched the games from home with her mom and grandmother, but this time was an exception. Lawrence was intrigued by the spirited atmosphere and and craziness of the fans. The court was full of constant action and noise, with the cheerleaders and dancers along the sideline, pumping up the crowd.
“Watching the dancers made me really want to be a part of it one day,” Lawrence said. “I really wanted to be able to cheer on the school.”
Phillips and her family are also die hard fans of basketball. They watch all of the games together, and they sing the Rock Chalk Chant every time. Phillips immediately fell in love with Lawrence for its eclecticity and limitless opportunities. At the first game she went to, her main focus was Rock Chalk Dancers.
“I told myself I wanted to do that,” said Phillips. “I started preparing for tryouts, and I worked with my coaches to practice, study and really take it seriously.”
Phillips practiced her interview and preliminary audition with her teachers from her dance studio. She studied the history of KU and the Rock Chalk Dancers, as well as the history of the athletic programs.
The tryout process lasted for three days, with the results out three days after. Phillips and Lawrence had three dances, a chant and a small sideline dance to pump up the crowd, called a stinger, that they had to perform. There were also five interviews with different coaches and spirit squad coordinators.
“It wasn’t just an audition,” said Phillips. “It was an experience. I would sometimes forget that it was an audition because people were so talkative and welcoming. We all bonded during our few days together.”
There are 22 girls, new and returning, that made the team out of the 49 that tried out. Only six of the Rock Chalk Dancers are new this year.
Lawrence and Phillips are happy and relieved to be going into their freshman year together, alongside their 20 new teammates.
“I think it would be really different if only one of us had made it,” said Lawrence. “We are both getting to meet new people and experience new things together.”
Next year, Phillips is planning on going into the Liberal Arts School with an undecided major. Lawrence is deciding between occupational, physical or speech therapy as a major.
“I’m definitely more excited to go to KU because of dance,” said Lawrence. “It’ll be so fun to experience the football games being out on the field, late nights at the phog in Allen Field House, and just getting out and meeting everybody.”