Emerald Jazz Spirit Squad looking for new talent
WSU’s Emerald Jazz Spirit Squad is looking for dancers for the upcoming season. For the competitive dance team try-outs were last Sunday but for the next couple of weeks the team will allow walk-ins.
There are two teams: Game Day, which is for fun and entertainment and Competitive Dance, which requires more training for competitions including nationals.
“People should join the squad for life lessons, to make life long friends, show your skills and to build resumes,” Joyce Whitaker, Spirit Squad Coordinator said. “Dancers are people persons, they have community service and great sales reps. skills because they are always visible. Employers want to know: what have you done outside of going to school.”
According to Whitaker, being a part of the team offers scholarships, priority scheduling and the ability to get the same perks athletes do.
Spirit Squad started in 1983 as a Division One team. It used to focus on Game Day Pomp Squad. The dancers didn’t need dance skills and were more focused on entertainment and half-time shows. Now there is a competitive side. For the last 10 years they’ve won at Nationals for Most Creative and in 2012, they won the sixth place title.
“Ninety-five percent of what we do is supporting the athletes and five percent is competitions,” Whitaker said. “What a lot of people don’t realize is what these teammates sacrifice. At the end of the basketball season, we’re not done. Since the semester changes we’ve had to add more practice time during the weekends.”
“I look forward to seeing students become productive citizens and get their degree. Education has to be your focus. Being on the team really helps students feel a part of WSU. Many of the students go on to be great friends, such as being in each others weddings and so forth.”
“Right now, we have a low number of students on the team. We’ve decided to go with quality over quantity but also believe the turn out has to do with what students have going on in their life, school and work. Our decrease in funding also plays a part. We are used to getting a lot of top talent.”
Whitaker, who’s been working at WSU for 25 years, believes the team does need more diversity. According to Whitaker she hopes they can reach out to students in the Dayton public area. The Spirit Squad is putting together a workshop open to all aspiring dancers called EJ Day on Jan. 5. Participants will receive discount tickets, a performance shirt, instructional dances and dinner with the Emerald Jazz team. The squad is also allowing members of the WSU community to buy I Love (“whatever you love”) t-shirts on Dec. 9. Both fundraisers will go towards helping the team get to Nationals next year.
“These kids are assets to WSU, ” Whitaker said. “They put a tremendous amount of time with high GPA’s and support the athletes. They love what they do. Many students are working at the concession stands for other games to earn money for nationals.”