This post is going to focus on all of the outside support we have gotten to get to the points in our careers we are at today. Obviously, a lot of our success has come from our own hard work and dedication, but we couldn’t have done it without the support of our family and coaches!
Like most young girls, my mom (Kelsey) signed me up for a dance class when I was about three years old. I was extremely shy as a child, so my mom was open to getting me involved in activities so I could meet some friends and break out of my shell. It definitely helped and from then on out, I was the one begging my mom to let me take more classes! A lot of people assume if you’re a dancer that your mom is a “dance mom”. My mom couldn’t be more opposite! While she is at every one of my competitions and performances, I was always the one asking to do more and become more serious about dance. I started dancing at a studio near my house up until I was about seven, and then convinced my parents to let me switch to a studio about thirty minutes away that some of my friends went to and was way more intense. This was the studio that really shaped me as a dancer, so I’m so thankful my parents supported me and took me to and from practices everyday and to all my competitions and performances. Also, dance is really expensive…from studio tuition costs, to competition fees, to costumes and shoes, to travel expenses, the list goes on. I obviously couldn’t have done any of it without my parents’ help and I know it hasn’t always been easy. They always do everything they can to help me follow my dreams and I can’t thank them enough!
Another huge supporter of my dance career was my coach, Amber O’Brien. Amber started teaching me my freshman year of high school when I switched studios. Having her as one of my coaches really shaped me into the dancer I am today. She worked with me privately and pushed me to my fullest potential which I think is the reason I made the Dance Team here at San Diego State. Amber basically became like a big sister to me and it was so sad when I graduated and she was no longer my coach. But we still talk all the time and she gives me the best advice for dance and for life!
As well as Kelsey my (Alexa) mom played a huge part in my decision to pursue a college sport. Growing up I was always doing some type of sport. I was the the girl in elementary school that was always playing with the boys. Although I had a girly side my mom always pushed me to be involved in sports. Once I decided I wanted to pursue lacrosse, she was my #1 fan. In 8th grade my mom pushed me to join a club lacrosse team since our high school team was not too competitive, and if I wanted to play in college I needed to be seen by college coaches. I was very nervous trying out for this club team but luckily I had a couple friends on the team so it wasn’t too bad. I can not thank my mom enough for pushing me because without her I wouldn’t be where I am today. She drove me to all of my tournaments up and down the east coast and was always supporting me no matter what. Once I decided I wanted to play in college she was very open to many different opportunities and supported my decisions. When it came time to visit schools she always came on my trips and encouraged me to do things and talk to coaches even if I was nervous. Like I said in an earlier post I am from New Jersey so a school in California is HUGE! Being so close with my mom this decision was definitely difficult but she pushed me to go where I wanted and where I would fit best and I chose SDSU and definitely do not regret it! She is actually coming out to visit me in November and I can not wait 🙂
If you do not have a strong support system my advice to you is GO for it. If you want something bad enough you need to fight for it.Create a support system with the loved ones around you. If you know you want to play a sport in college do everything you are capable of doing to pursue your dream. Work hard train hard and get yourself noticed. You are your own personal advocate, sell yourself and make the coaches know how badly you are willing to fight and work for your goal.
Here is a book that we found that came in handy as a competitive college athlete. And may help you become the best team player you can be.
This post will be a little bit about the inside scoop of what it is like to travel as an athlete!
I (Alexa) am super excited to write about this topic, because I love to travel and see new places and schools so playing a sport is a perfect excuse to travel all around the U.S. Because lacrosse is huge on the east coast we usually travel over to the east coast once or twice a season. (I live in N.J. so this is always fun for me because I get to see family!)
When we are going this far we fly. The flight is about 5 hours as long as we don’t have a lay over. Flying with friends is so much fun, as long as you get the window seat! 🙂 We have flown to Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Colorado, Ohio, and even Northern California. It does get little hectic in the airport when all of the sudden a sea of red and black storms in! Some people get overwhelmed by us, but for the most part everyone we meet is super nice and supportive. We are a pretty great group of girls. 🙂
On the other hand sometimes we do take a bus for the shorter trips. Although they do take longer to get to our destination, bus trips are always super fun! On our first bus trip, each freshman has to sing in front of the whole bus. They have to wear headphones turn the music up so they can’t hear themselves and sing a song of their choice in front of everyone! This is a tradition that has been going on for a couple of years and we all love it! It is such a fun/funny activity and everyone gets a good chuckle out of it. (Many are tone deaf and don’t even know it. Shh!) We like to watch movies and sometimes we play cards if our buses have tables. We bring our comfiest blankets and tastiest snacks and have a great time.
Being on the Dance Team at SDSU has given me (Kelsey) some of the most amazing opportunities to travel to the coolest places. Sadly, we do not travel to the away basketball and football games, but we do get to travel to the football bowl games and the men and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as our competitions!
My freshman year I was lucky enough to travel with the men’s basketball team to the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament. It is definitely one of my favorite experiences I’ve had since I’ve been on the team! We took a bus with cheer and band, since the game was just up the freeway in Anaheim. The game was in the Honda Center and the atmosphere was crazy! Getting to sit on the court and be in the action was so exciting. Even with the loss, it was a trip I won’t ever forget.
Some other places that our team has traveled to with the football and basketball teams include Boise, New Orleans, Charlotte, Spokane, and Las Vegas.
Our biggest event of our season is traveling to Orlando, Florida for College Dance Nationals. Nationals is over Christmas Break every year, so after weeks of all day practices, we fly to Orlando to compete. There’s never a dull moment with our team, and we always make a scene wherever we go, so traveling across the country together is entertaining! We compete at the EPSN Wide World of Sports, but since our coach doesn’t want us to be distracted staying by Disney World we stay in condos a few miles away. Nationals season is our most intense time of year and we spend all day, everyday together, but we somehow don’t get sick of each other. After the few days of competition we have one day to spend around Disney World before we fly back to San Diego. Even though it’s so much work, Nationals is definitely the highlight of our season!
Check back soon for a post about how we succeed in our sports thanks to our biggest supporters!
Our next post will be focusing on interviews with other members on our teams and their individual experiences as a college athlete.
First, I (Kelsey) interview my teammate Shana Ned, who is a fifth year member of the Dance Team, and a team captain.
What made you want to pursue dance at the college level?
I have been dancing since I was three years old and dancing competitively since I was six years old. Dance became such a huge part of my life as I grew up. I danced every day, and competed on the weekends. When thinking about where I wanted to go to college, I could not imagine not dancing or taking dance out of my life so I decided that I wanted to go to a college with a competitive dance team. This is what made me want to pursue dance at the college level.
What was the try-out process like?
To be on the team, we have a two-day tryout. We are required to learn two routines off YouTube before attending the auditions. We receive a number on the first day of the audition. The first day of auditions consists of review of the routines that were learned on YouTube, across the floor to showcase dance technique, and a first cut. The second day, we arrive in the morning, and learn a completely new routine (for a total of three routines). Each routine is about 1 minute long. After we learn the final routine, we get one hour to review, and freshen up before we audition for the judges. The judges that are brought in do not know anyone on the team, to remove any amount of bias that may be present when choosing the team. We are separated into groups of three based on our numbers. Each group of three goes into the audition room, and performs the routines for the judges. The judges may ask you to perform the routines again, show them a specific trick, or ask you an interview-type question. It is different for each group. After each group auditions, the judges make a “yes” list, and “no” list, and a “maybe” list. The girls on the “no” list are dismissed, and the “maybe” group is brought back into the audition room. At this time, the judges can ask this group to do anything they want to see. This can be the routines or a type of trick of some sort. Once the judges narrow down the “maybe” group, they dismiss the dancers and deliberate on who they want to be on the team. Once they decide this, they call everyone that is left into the audition room, and announce who has made the team. It is a very long and tedious process. We are a highly competitive team and want the best team members. Technique, performance, overall look, spirit, and attitude are all deciding factors when choosing the team.
How do you manage your time between dance and academics?
It is challenging, but not impossible to succeed in both dance and academics. I feel as though I need both to have balance in my life. Having a busy schedule has taught be a lot about time management and how to be organized. If I have a few hours in between class and practice, I know that I need to get my work done in that time frame, before practice starts. Going to practice is a good brain release from schoolwork. It is a good way to clear my mind and not stress about what is going on in my academics. If I did not have dance to keep me on my toes, I actually think I would procrastinate more with my academics. As long as you stay organized with both dance and academics, managing time between the two is not hard!
What is the time commitment?
Being on the dance team is a very big time commitment. When the season begins, we attend two dance camps; one in Palm Springs and another in Santa Barbara. A week before school starts, we practice every day for about 9 hours to prepare for all of the welcome week events on campus. When school starts, we practice regularly, three times a week, for a total of 10 hours. We perform and cheer at all of the home football games during the first semester of school. If there is a football game, we add another 2-hour practice the day before the game. We also perform and cheer at all home basketball games, when their season starts. Sometimes those games are during the week, or on the weekend. We are also a competitive dance team. We compete in January in Orlando, Florida and also in Anaheim in Orange County, California. In order to prepare for this, during Christmas Break, we stay on campus and practice about 8 hours every single day for two weeks, leading up to our competition. We also do community service events, media spots, athletic promos, and basically anything the San Diego community wants us to attend year round. We do not have a specific season, we are a year-round team.
What are the biggest challenges of being on a college dance team?
I think one of the biggest challenges of being on a college dance team is finding enough time not only for school, but for family, friends, and other things in life that are important. There have been many times where I have had to sacrifice certain things, or not attend family parties because I have a dance event or practice. Although it is tough sometimes, dance team is something you sign up for and if you do not like the time commitment, then you are free to quit. The coaches are also good about allowing us to miss certain things, if we need to be somewhere that is important to us. We have to give the coaches a big notice if we are ever going to miss something though.
What are your biggest accomplishments as a member of the team?
One of my biggest accomplishments as a member of the team is being the only 5-year senior this year, and the only person to be captain for three years.
What are your favorite memories being on the team?
I have so many amazing memories from being on the team. I will start with my freshman year. We were given the opportunity to travel to New Orleans with the football team, to cheer them on at their Bowl Game. That same year, I was able to travel with the basketball team to Columbus, Ohio to cheer them on in the first round of March Madness. My junior year, I traveled to Boise, Idaho with the football team for their Bowl Game, and Spokane, Washington for the first round of March Madness for the basketball team. Last year (my senior year) was probably the best year I have had being on the team! When we went to nationals in Florida, we placed 4th in the nation for Jazz and 7th in the nation for Hip-Hop. The year before this, we didn’t even make finals or place in the top 10, so this was a huge accomplishment for us. Also, when we went to our second nationals in Anaheim, we placed first in both the Jazz and Hip-Hop divisions. This was such an amazing feeling because it had been four years since our team had placed first at that competition. These are the highlights of my time on the dance team and I am so excited to see what my last year has to bring!
Now I (Alexa) am going to interview one of my teammates Sarah Dorl. She is a Junior on the SDSU Lacrosse team and plays attack. (for those of you who don’t know that is an offensive position).
What made you want to pursue Lacrosse at a college level?
I started playing my freshman year of high school and knew immediately that I wanted to pursue this sport and play in college. I came to visit SDSU and knew it was a perfect fit and committed right away! (I couldn’t be happier with my decision)
What was the recruiting process like?
I got emails from many different colleges and I got the chance to visit multiple colleges and see which was the best fit for me. (Of course the weather and all the perks of San Diego persuaded me. 🙂 )
What is the time commitment required for this sport?
Basically 6 days a week, with some Saturdays off. We get up early in the morning and condition and practice in the fall then after practice we go right to out classes. In the spring, we practice during the day from around 12-4. And travel a lot more often.
How do you manage your time between Lacrosse and school?
It is a tight schedule. When I am not playing I am usually studying. My major (Kinesiology) is very time consuming and to remain a scholar athlete, my studies require a good about of my time.
What are the biggest challenges of being on a college Lacrosse team?
The time commitment and dedication. No matter how I feel or how tired I am after practice we still have to be alert ready to learn. Because our day is not over when practice ends, we still have our studies we need to take care of as well.
What are your favorite memories being apart of the team?
My favorite memory is when we go to Maryland in the fall and I get to see my family and play with all best best friends in my hometown. We also go to this awesome bagel place and get the best bagels EVER! I recommend the city girl and the country boy! They are a big hit in Maryland.