Dance team achieves three-peat

In Sports, Spring Sports
The CSUF dance team poses with the national championship trophy after winning the Division I Jazz Championship. It was their third win in a row and 11th overall. (Courtesy of Jennie Volkert)

The nationally ranked Cal State Fullerton Titans dance team came home as national champions for the third straight year after winning the Division I Jazz Championships at the 2012 UCA/UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship.

It was the 11th  national championship for the Titans dance team.

Jennie Volkert, a CSUF alumni and co-coach for the dance team, said that she couldn’t be more proud of her team.

“Every year, there is something different that makes each team unique. This year, it was their positivity, drive, dedication and motivation from day one to defend our national title,” said Volkert. “They knew what they had to do and they got it done.”

The Titans had the lead after the semifinals and garnered more points than Hofstra University and North Dakota State University in the finals to cement their three-peat. Big West Conference rival Long Beach State finished fourth and UC Santa Barbara finished eighth.

This year’s winning finals routine was choreographed by Kenndra Alvarez, a CSUF alumnus and co-coach for the dance team, who has also choreographed the team’s nationals routine for the past three years.

“The talent on this year’s team is absolutely amazing,” said Alvarez. “They push me to be better and better each year in creating a more challenging and captivating routine to take to nationals.”

Besides the pressures and expectations of going into the competition as the national champions, this year’s 16-member squad featured only two seniors and 10 new dancers, eight freshman and two sophomores. The new dancers had never been to nationals prior to this year. It was also the first year that the competition allowed 16 girls to compete; it had been 14 in previous years.

“I thought having ten rookies on the team was going to be a struggle,” Volkert said. “But with their trust in Kenndra and I, as well as the vets, it made it a bit easier.”

To prepare for nationals the dance team began learning the competition routines in early November. About three weeks prior to competition, the team increased their practices from three times a week to everyday until nationals. The team even practiced after performing at men’s and women’s home basketball games, where they stayed well past midnight perfecting their routines.

Dance team senior captain Chelsea Horn, a child and adolescent development major and four-year member of the dance team, attributed the team’s success to their great chemistry.

“We had a really close team and we were all really bonded. That really helped us in fighting to win again,” said Horn. “I wanted all the new girls to experience what it was like to win a national title and we all made it happen together.”

Senior dancer Marisa Struzik, a psychology major and four-year member of the team, was happy to be leaving her last nationals as a champion.

“It was the best way to leave the team behind. I have full faith that they can keep the tradition going. I am so proud,” said Struzik. “We love what we do and we love the school we do it for.”

The competition took place Jan. 13  to 15 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.

The other members of the team consist of: Two-year members Alexis Bravo, Kristina Gutierrez, Krysten Dorado, Nicole Warner and first-year members Hayley Friend, Danielle Hambrick, Morgan Harris, Kristie Hendrickson, Tara Indelicato, Courtney Lawler, Ally Martinez, Kara Partridge, Kayla Rowland and Karen Tepe.

The Titans will be performing their award-winning nationals routine at the men’s basketball homecoming game on Feb. 4 during halftime.

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