5 Jazz Teams To Watch At NDA Collegiate Nationals 2016

2016-3-20 NDA OPEN TEAMS GRAPHIC

Following up some crazy traffic on my 5 Teams Performance Teams to Watch at NDA Collegiate Nationals 2016 post with one about the jazz division (formerly open division).

I feel like it’s kind of redundant to chat about how much I love NDA collegiate nationals in this post, too, especially because I really want you to click on that little link above where I already talk about it once.

Instead, I’ll just say this – it’s nearly impossible to decide the jazz teams I’m most excited to see. There is seriously so much talent at NDA, and a treat in every single division. I think it’s really important for you all to know how damn hard it is to narrow this all down, but here’s my best shot:

Stephen F. Austin State University

These stunnas were in Challenge Cup last year and I remember being just so confused. They were flawless; what were they doing in Challenge Cup? Then I quickly realized they got a safety deduction (I’m guessing because they held flowers in their hands during a team side aerial? Someone can fill me in on that), which made perfect sense because, like I said, they did a damn team side aerial.

Anyways, they ended up in third against two very, very, very talented teams. Even though I think SFADT definitely deserved their third place finish, no routine made me cry like theirs, and moving an audience is the real win here. Huge tip of the hat to them.

West Virginia University

I feel like WVU is kind of the soul sister to Assumption because they, too, have had some struggles at NDA. Of course they totally ran the show in 2010 and 2011 when they brought home titles, and even killed it in 2012 and 2013. But they did go through some coaching changeovers that were tough (just like Assumption), and didn’t have the most spectacular finish in 2014 (and Assumption didn’t even get to go that year). I’m probably just drawing the parallels because I really wish I was a WVU dancer.

But anyways, in 2015? Shit. That routine was beautiful. I hope they pull something even better off this year because to me, WVU will always be that 2011 team that killed me when they put that damn scarf in their mouths.

Grand Valley State University

Competing against the best is fun, which is one of the main reasons why I love Grand Valley. With Assumption, I’ve had the honor of going toe-to-toe with this team (and let’s be real, it was only a real competition back in 2013 when Assumption was still am actual NDA force) and seeing what they can deliver has always been humbling.

I’m going to be 100 percent honest, I think I wanted Grand Valley to get its win last year on principle alone, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t completely deserve it. Their routine was stunning. They are hard workers. They are humble. I hope they keep all of that up this year to deliver another amazing and honorable performance next week.

James Madison University & Utah Valley University

I remember sitting in the Ocean Center during finals last year and pretty much everyone on Assumption was like, “yup, it really doesn’t matter whether JMU or Utah Valley wins. They were both flawless.” Because I was totally torn on which I thought should win more last year, I’m still torn about who I’m more excited to see this year (remember up top where I said narrowing this down to five teams is hard?)

Brigham Young University

Because duuuuuuuuuuh. It’s probably so dance team basic of me to fawn over BYU so much, but I feel like if you’re not obsessed with them you’re just being bitter or denying a killer team of the respect they deserve.

If I’m going to boil down the thing I’m most excited for, though, it’s that damn team side aerial. A few years ago this team blew our minds apart by throwing a casual one in there. Then a bunch of other teams started doing it like, oh, like it’s hard or something? So BYU responded by doing the most beautiful aerial sequence in cannon, showing off skill and artistry all at the same time. What are they going to do this year to up the ante? I know I’m chomping at the bit to see.

A little PS note: Thanks so much for the support everyone’s shown this ‘lil blog the past few days. Every view, like, comment, share, and tweet has made my jaw hit the ground. Nothing makes you feel luckier than seeing things unfold doing the very thing you love. I hope you all have as much fun with this as I do, because seriously, these dance team national lists are my favorite blog posts all year.

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5 Team Performances To Watch At NDA Collegiate Nationals 2016

2016-3-20 NDA TEAM TEAMS PREDICTIONS

This year, the NDA Collegiate National Championships in Daytona are super bittersweet, because for the first time in a long time I’m not going to be taking the floor in the Ocean Center dancing my heart out for a national championship.

But! At least I’ve already got my Varsity TV subscription set up for the live stream and I have the time to make a top teams to watch list. You win some, you lose some?

I’m going to be counting down teams I’m excited to see between Team Dance and Open Dance because it would simply be impossible to narrow it down to five between the two divisions. Who knows? Maybe I’ll throw a hip hop in there, too.

Here are my top Team Dance teams:

  1. University of Louisville/Penn State Lionettes

This anticipation is pretty similar to how I was feeling during 2016 UDA Collegiate Nationals when Minnesota was taking on Tennessee after last year’s upset. I’ve been a pretty diehard Louisville fan for a while (note my unbelievable reverence for Coach Todd Sharp), but for a while Penn State has been taking the title (until they didn’t last year). Penn State’s social media activity has shown that they are really out for blood this year and I don’t really blame them considering both Louisville and a super random team beat them last year. So this should be interesting.

  1. Iowa State University

Remember that super random team I mentioned who beat Penn State? This is them. I really hope that they bring it again this year. I was at the Band Shell the morning of IA finals and there was nothing like seeing their faces when they came in second, seeing them really surprise themselves and feel proud of what they managed to do through humble hard work. It was really pretty beautiful.

  1. Ramapo College

This is where my bias comes in. Assumption and Ramapo have a decent history of strongly supporting each other, and I have to give these ladies a shoutout. That said, they totally deserve this. Ramapo was back to back champs in 2012 and 2013, and came in second last year in DIII Team Performance. Practicing with them is like being on another planet… They have the most unreal energy, are constantly talking to each other throughout the routine, and push each other more than you could ever know. Having the chance to practice with them was so inspiring and it showed me and my team how much harder we could we working. Naturally, I’m rooting for them to bring out the big W this year.

  1. Towson University

I’d be pretty remiss if I didn’t mention Towson. In the entire dance team community, nobody defines dynasty the way Towson does. I think they’re like, ten? (eleven? twelve?) time national champions. They have one year where they aren’t Team Performance champs and that’s the year they decided to shake things up in Open Performance and win that instead. While I sometimes think another team could topple Towson, hearing from team alumni about how difficult it is to be on that team, I can’t do anything but respect them and get amped to see what they bring out every year.

  1. Boston University

Sucks to B U! Just kidding. More like want to B U. These ladies are fierce. Remember what I said about Ramapo? Same kind of goes for them. Last year I feel like they really concentrated hard on their hip hop (and it paid off), but they still somehow whipped out a fourth place finish for Team Performance, too. It is unreal how excited I am to see in which areas they’ve improved for this year.

5 Teams To Watch At UDA College National Dance Championships 2016

 

UDA college nationals 2016

UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championships are this weekend, and we all know what that means – my blog is about to go hog freakin’ wild.

Dance team nationals are honestly some of my favorite things ever. They’re these super boiled down displays of teamwork, an intensified showcase of athleticism and artistry all into one two and a half minute routine. I’ve always said that something that makes dance team so unique as a sport is that the stakes are so high – it’s not like we get multiple games to rack up a good record; we can’t just “play better next week.” We have to own it for those two minutes we’re out there, and if we don’t, all of the months of hard work are gone.

It’s so thrilling, which is why I keep up with it so closely, even when it’s a competition I don’t go to, and even when I’m already a year out of college.

In anticipation of the big weekend, here are my top picks to keep your eye out for at UDA 2015 college nationals:

  1. University of Minnesota and University of Tennessee Division IA Jazz

Yes, I’m going to put these two together because while I’m super pumped to see what these teams do individually every year, what I’m really looking forward to this year is seeing the absolute showdown that we all know is coming. In 2015 Tennessee blew up the universe by beating University of Minnesota in 1A jazz using the same song as Minnesota. Gauntlet thrown.

I’m going to have to preface my prediction with this: University of Tennessee has always been my favorite collegiate dance team at UDA, and their 2009 Iris routine is my all-time favorite. That said, I don’t think they’re going to win out this year. Minnesota has to be coming back with their talons blazing, ready to do anything to regain their dynasty. I know they’ve had good old Carl Mundt in practice from time to time, and their camp routine was flawless. Tennessee’s camp routine was more their usual thang, which means I was kind of underwhelmed considering their mind-boggling routine from last year.

Needless to say, I’m going to be on the edge of my fucking seat waiting to see how this one plays out.

  1. University of Cincinnati Division IA Hip-Hop

SLAAAAAY KWEEN, SLAY. Last year the University of Cincinnati took it all with their hip-hop routine, and rightfully so. It was honest to God the most innovative hip-hop routine I have ever seen (and I’ve seen Brigham Young University at NDA nationals live in the flesh four times, so that’s really saying something). I’m honestly just curious to see if Cinci can follow that up. I know they’re going to be amazing, but they made enormous shoes for themselves to fill, and I’m wondering if that’ll even be possible.

  1. University of Central Oklahoma Open Jazz, Open Hip-Hop

UCO!!! These bad bitches were always in my team’s division at NDA, and I was super shocked last year to see that they changed competitions. Truth be told, they usually got totally screwed every year at NDA, so I was really excited to see that they took the plunge in UDA instead.

Last year they got fifth in Open Jazz and 10th in hip-hop which is unbelievable for newbies at UDA if you ask me. I always loved competing against these girls, and really respected what they brought to the table. They’re fierce competitors, and I’m really pulling for them to improve both finishes from last year.

  1. St. Joseph’s University Division I Pom

What would this article be without a little bit of love for the pom girls? It’s so awkward because I feel like as a jazz dancer, I never really hear about pom, but oh my God is it hard to do. I have such respect for these ladies, and I have to tip my cap to them in this article.

St. Joseph’s was last year’s winner, and that’s especially notable because in 2014 they came in fifth. That’s an crazy jump and I have so much respect for that. I’m super curious to see if it was a fluke or if they’re going to create some sort of DI pom dynasty that we all follow as closely as Minnesota’s.

  1. Arizona State University Division IA Jazz

…because they got robbed.

Not to say the people who beat them weren’t good, but these girls got sixth place AND DANCED TO A GODDAMN A CAPELLA VERSION OF MY HEART WILL GO ON. Not only is that song generally epic, but dance teaming to a capella music is damn near impossible and I will forever be impressed by this. I could literally feel the passion of Celine dripping out of their pores.

Plus, they had a straight up fall on a girl’s butt during that dance and nobody talked about it (although maybe that’s because none of us could shut up about Tennessee and Minnesota). If that’s not impressive then I really don’t know what is.

I’m seriously so excited to see if these girls can go back to their circa 2012 prowess and not get absolutely screwed this year.

Essays 101: 7 Steps to Getting that A

ESSAY WRITING POST

So I’m going to have to be pretty honest, seeing all of my friends who are younger than me move back into school is hardcore bumming me out. It’s not because I’m longing for the party-filled social life of college (because my social life at home is pretty dang good), but because I so badly want to be taking classes with them all. And the thing I’m really really going to miss the most? The essay writing, because essays are kinda my shit.

I haven’t taken a legitimate exam since freshman year of college because, as a history major and English minor, I was just tested via lots and lots of essays, and I couldn’t have loved that more. Throughout all of those essays, I’ve really gotten my process down to a science—the thought of a 10-page essay isn’t so daunting anymore, and I get so excited at questions I don’t really know the answer to just yet.

I’ve boiled that science down to my seven must-dos in order to seriously nail an essay so you all can, too!

  1. Actually read the books.

I mean I guess it’s kind of obvious, but there are definitely people out there who don’t read the books you have to write your essay on. I guess that reading a straight textbook might be a little bit dry, but they make up for it by being super easy reads. When you move onto upper-level classes where you’re reading more books books instead of a textbook, though, you’ve got to read them. On the bright side, these books are usually super interesting and well-written, so it’s totally worth the time it takes to read.

When you’re reading, do yourself a favor and underline/highlight, and maybe add a few sticky-notes in there, too. You’re going to need to use quotes in your essay, obviously, so marking where there are insightful comments is kind of a must-do. Another great way to collect quotes if maybe you didn’t completely read every word of the book is to use the index and refine your speed reading skills.

  1. Make a legit outline.

These bad boys are so, so important—if you make a proper outline, you’re already like 70 percent done with your essay. I like to come up with each paragraph I’m going to write, come up with the topic of each, and at least type in every quote I’m going to support each point. I don’t let this 100 percent dictate my essay-writing, though. If I’m writing and I feel like I need to split into a new paragraph, or should swap around ideas, I allow myself room to do so.

Toward the end of college I started adding in bullet points in each outline, and would allow myself to ramble on about that subtopic as much as I wanted. Then I’d go back and edit that all out to have more scholarly language and transitional phrases, eventually turning itself into an essay.

  1. Use EasyBib.

The absolutely, positively most important part of writing an essay is making sure the whole thing is sourced properly. That means making sure you have the right in-text citations, the right footnotes, and the right bibliography at the end. I love using EasyBib.com because it organizes my bibliographies perfectly. I still need to think about the rest of my sourcing, but at least I know one part of it will be flawless.

Pay attention to the citation format you use. If you’re writing something in sociology or psychology, you’re probably going to use APA format. If you’re writing English, it’ll be MLA. History is Chicago Manual of Style (AKA lots and lots of footnotes). Those tend to be how it works out, but make sure you double check with your professor to find out what he/she would like!

  1. Think about the connected ideas between all of your sources, and what those ideas are saying about the world at large.

When you start moving into upper-level classes (your 200 or 300 levels), it’s not enough to just give a report or summary of what you read. In most cases, you’re going to be balancing multiple books, or multiple thinkers, or multiple theories, and you need to make sure that you’re showing you understand all of them. The best way to do that is to show that you understand how they all connect to each other, and how they connect to the world at large.

Obviously, this advice is going to vary on a case-by-case basis. I honestly have no knowledge about psychology, so who the heck knows, maybe this is a terrible piece of advice for that subject! I do know, however, that in history, you need to demonstrate that you know how different ideas connect and that they don’t exist in a vacuum—that’s pretty much the whole point to the study of history, and English is pretty similar, too.

  1. Say something unique, or that you don’t think your peers are saying.

THIS IS HUGE. I had a professor who used to say that it would be impossible to get more than a B on an essay with him if you only went for the low-hanging fruit. That’s to say, there are a lot of obvious arguments out there—usually the ones you went over in class a lot, or the ones you would know whether you took the course or not—and those are not enough to show that you understand a concept. While you should definitely touch on those, don’t let them be your whole essay.

When I would write essays, I would try to say something that I didn’t think my peers would say. That could mean taking a qualified stance on an argument, or saying that an event occurred for reasons we hadn’t yet discussed. It didn’t matter to me if I had the best writing skills or the best research skills in the class—I wanted to say the most creative thing.

  1. Use your introduction not just to set the topic, but to capture your professor and show off your writing skills.

Sarah Vowell, one of my favorite authors, once said “the more history I learn, the more the world fills up with stories.” That’s why introductions are my favorite, favorite, favorite things to write. That’s my space to tell a story.

Of course, in my introduction I take the time to make my thesis statement and give the reader a teeny glimpse into what I’ll be talking about, but my first handful of sentences are always dedicated to storytelling, letting my reader know the context of my argument, of letting them know that I’m not just writing an essay, but actually demonstrating writing skills.

  1. Make your title last.

God, I hate titles. To be completely honest, I don’t have the best advice for them except to write them after you’ve written the whole essay. Sometimes when I’m writing, the essay I planned on doesn’t necessarily come to fruition, and it changed into something new. Maybe there’s a really interesting point I come up with, or maybe there’s one part that’s better written than another and I want to direct attention to it. Either way, I always make sure to reflect that in my title. Another way to go is super, duper general, like “Heart of Darkness as 19th Century Imperialist Commentary.” That shit’s real general to the point that it almost sounds dumb, but it’s not going to make you drop from an A to A-. I’m also a fan of the colon, like “Heart of Darkness: An Imperialist Commentary.” That makes you seem really smart, but doesn’t take a huge amount of brain power to come up with.

Sara Says: The Final Column

When I began this column back in September, I told you all this: I know that who I am is all that I have. That was all I seemed to know at the time that I started editing with the Provoc, and it was the main thing I had learned in college. But now, seven months later, I seem to know a little bit more—that words have a fickle way of sticking out of everything, of not wanting to bend to the circumstances you have, that sometimes they’re going to fail you, and others they’re going to run like a leaky faucet onto a page and you won’t be able to stop them.

I’ve come to know now, with all of the bravado and certainty in the world, that I was right when I started this whole thing. Who I am is all that I have, and all that I have and all that I am are words.

Words seem to have traced my entire trajectory throughout college. I’m a history major and (officially declared!) English minor, so pretty regularly I’ve found myself hunched in front of a computer pounding away at a keyboard. I have searched for them, and found them, when I’ve had a hot date with Microsoft Word and a Her Campus article or blog post or Provoc article. I have spent hours on end with the dance team when words have left me to go see something else. Words have been why I can fall asleep at night, and why I’m able to hold the folks around me with tight little hands.

And I blame you, Assumption College, for all of this. I blame the many people who have touched me, with positive rays of sunshine or with heartbreaking sadness. I blame the girls who have lived by my side for this little journey, the teams who have made my hands feel light and full, the lectures that have taken me to fantasy lands where I, from the comfort of a desk, have had the ability to see everything.

Shout out to the Provoc staff for being magical word fairies, for making me feel hilarious and for teaching me how to step into the large, large shoes that leaders often wear. My love for you is infinite, and if you need to hear about it again, check out issue seven.

Shout out to the dance team for being there when words weren’t. Thank you for teaching me how to dance and walk like a champion, how to ‘put my loser up’ in all sense of the words and for Sobfest 2015.

Shout out to 5J for being the most hilarious and unique women in my life. Thank you for the Wall of Shame, for the denim stains our dancing has left on walls and for the toxic group message that plagues my iPhone. Please stay weird. Always.

And shout out to my professors, for giving me books to read, and a whole world to explore. Special shout outs to Professor Wheatland, who gave me the worst grade I’ve gotten in 117, and for pulling out the best paper I’ve ever written in senior seminar; Dr. Kisatsky for letting me write an honors thesis about Disney, and for making sure it came out okay; Professor Land for reminding me that journalism, and writing in general, is all about talking to and learning from people you would never have gotten the chance to meet; and to Professor Hodgen. Thanks for telling me to “ruin my life” and become a writer; you—and writing—have saved me in more ways than you could know.

Thanks to the Andover High friends who never let me stop calling them home. You all are everything to me.

Thanks to Douglas, Colleen and Eric for being my first friends ever, for keeping me irrationally attached to Massachusetts, for teaching me to laugh deep in my gut and for teaching me that the earth is the greatest thing that we have and we should go out there and enjoy it. Thanks to Mom and Dad for making bill payments, high grades, extracurriculars and big dreams all possible.

Forever and ever I will always say that humility and gratitude will be the most important and most attractive qualities someone can have, so I try to pull them into my heart every morning and every night. Thank you Provoc, Assumption and everyone who has filled this space with love for always keeping me humble, and always keeping me grateful.

Wrangling the fear of graduation (there will be other joys, too.)

For the past day or so, I’ve been trying to scrounge together the words to part ways with my college dance team. In a way, saying bye to them and all of the experiences I’ve had with them is like saying bye to the entire college package; they were my first friends, and are certainly the best ones I’ve found in these wild, wild four years.

This past week we competed at NDA Collegiate Nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida, and despite the handful of practices we’re still going to run in these last fleeting weeks until I graduate, I can’t help but feel an aching sadness that things are coming to an end; things aren’t really going to be the same anymore.

But then today, when I returned to classes missed for my attendance at the competition, a feeling of closure fell over me like a cloud of grace.

My poetry professor, bless him, asked me how things went down at the competition. I smiled and thanked him for asking and told him that we ended in the middle of the pack; not our best showing at nationals, for damn sure, but still an experience that fills our hearts with gratitude. He smiled back.

“It must be so sad,” he said to me. “I know how much joy being on that team brings to you.”

I remembered my first class with him, back when I was small and a second-year student, when I handed in my first assignment about a specific day in my life. I chose to write about the breathless moments on stage with the dance team a few months prior, when we danced like champions and came home like some, too.

He really did know how much joy it brought me.

But there are going to be other joys, too,” he finished.

And suddenly I pieced things together; with humble and thankful fingers, I found not just the words about saying goodbye to my team, my first college friends, but words about saying goodbye to the last four years. To my identity as a student. To whatever river I’ve been coasting down for my whole life.

It’s frighteningly easy to fall into the fear of the future. I don’t have a job. I’m going to be living in my parent’s house (even though that’s a totally okay thing to do!). I don’t have any clue what I’m capable of, and I’m petrified that it’s nothing. I look at these joys that my time in college has brought me, and I want to white-knuckle cling to them.

But there will be other joys, too, and I want to do the challenging thing and face them with excitement and fearlessness.

I might be jobless right now, but there will be the joy of finding something to do and finding a spot in this busy, busy universe. I might be leaving the dimpling laughter of college friendships, but there will be joys of new friends and new relationships that will keep my hands light and full and good. There will be joys of knowing that the earth is spinning beneath my feet right now, and that if I keep sending love out there, it’s going to come back to me.

I can’t keep my feet planted in this place for too long. I’ve sucked it dry of all the nutrients, all of the love and peace, joy and lust for life that it’s given me, and I’m going to starve if I keep trying to feed myself here. I need to trust that every warm and loving vibe that I throw out into this world is going to come back to me some day. And I think now I’m starting to trust that there are going to be joys, bigger and smaller, coming my way; there will be other joys, too.

The Her Campus Book: Why YOU Should Get it Now!

THE HER CAMPUS BOOK

So for anyone who doesn’t know, I’m kind of obsessed with Her Campus— I’m a contributing writer and part of the blogger network and enjoy every second of both of those. To hear more about my obsession, check out this post!

So a few months ago everyone involved with HC got an email letting them know about the book that was about to drop, and all of the national writers got an email asking if it was okay if they put our names on there as a list of contributors. I was like, duh why wouldn’t I associate myself with that greatness? Thus giving you all one reason why you should definitely be buying this book, and the top reason why I pre-ordered mine. I’m pretty sure within like three seconds of my parents dropping the book off at school for me, I was snapchatting this photo out to anyone and everyone.

HC book bylineWoohoo, go Sara Heath!

If you’re not quite as thrilled as I am to see my name in the book, there are still plenty of things you can do with it. The obvious thing is use it to prepare yourself for college life, hence the title, The Her Campus Guide to College Life.

I’m going to be honest with you all, this part of the book doesn’t really appeal to me much, mostly because in less than two months, I’ll no longer have a need to navigate college life. And yes, I know, there is still plenty of stuff in there that will be useful to me as a young twenty-something, but most of it I’ll still be able to figure out.

So why did I buy this book?

Because for me, it’s going to serve as a sort of time capsule.

I remember one time when I was in like fifth or sixth grade I read this Meg Cabot book called How to Be Popular: A Novel. It was about this chick going into high school who swiped this book about being popular from her grandma or something, and used it as a legitimate guide for high school life. By the end of the novel, the girl had learned some great lesson, told her grandma about it, and her grandma laughed. Oh this thing? Wow. It’s funny to think about what was important and what life was like back when I was in high school.

I want to have that moment in twenty years. I want to pick up the HC book and be like, Oh wow, we all used to stress major when talking about our v-cards to guys. Not to trivialize things women deal with right now, but I hope that I can pick up this book and look at everything that has changed and reminisce about things we did and didn’t value as collegiettes in 2015.

So take it from me, everyone. Even if seeing my name doesn’t make you happy or you might not be in college for too much longer, this book still serves a purpose. A wonderfully sweet and nostalgic purpose.

You can order the Her Campus Guide to College Life at http://www.hercampus.com/book. And if you order it before tomorrow, you get a snazzy little offer to Google Hangout with the founders and maybe have your questions answered! I know I’ll be there; will you?

5 Coed Teams to Watch at NCA Nationals 2015

nca 5 teams to watch

Guys! I’ts that time of year! National Cheer and National Dance Alliance Collegiate Nationals! Words cannot describe how excited I am because I’m finally writing about the national competition that my team attends. How freaking cool is that? These are the teams I’m so excited to see, and I get the honor of seeing them in person.

Since I attend NDA nationals and have, yaknow, my whole college career, it hasn’t just been about the dance for me. It’s been about cheer, too. So, I’ve decided to count down the five teams I’m most excited to see at NCA nationals. These are all co-ed teams (although some might have all girl counterparts), mostly because co-ed is really exciting because the guys are so strong and can throw the flyers pretty much anywhere they want… like last year I saw for the first time a basket toss where a dude was the flyer. What?! I freaked out.

All of these teams were selected because they’re either legendary, or generally have really awesome sportsmanship– some of them even have both. Although I had my little stunt (haha, pun totally intended) with cheerleading my freshman and sophomore year of high school, I really don’t know much of the technique of it all, but I sure do know which teams get me pumped up and which teams make me say wow. And that’s what cheerleading is about, right?

1. The University of Louisville Cheer IA, Small Coed IA

What would this list be without the Cards? They lost three stunts in small coed last year and still won. What? That’s how amazing these kids are. And their routine in Cheer IA was nearly perfect– the only problem was that OSU’s routine was more perfect. Something that will always have me cheering for Louisville, though, is how much I freaking respect their coach, Todd Sharp. He’s a legend in the spirit world and such a class act. It’s hard not to get behind a team that he coaches.

2. Oklahoma State University Cheer IA, Small Coed IA

Just like I couldn’t post this list without Louisville, I couldn’t post it without OSU. They’re perennial favorites with the Cards, and it’s always so exciting to see the two teams go head to head yet again. OSU has some of the cleanest tumbling I’ve ever seen, and it blows my mind apart, and I can’t wait for them to blow my mind further. Fun fact about OSU: whenever I think of them, I think about the time I saw one of the boys on their team carrying around a stick that they all slid their national champion rings onto, and it was one of the most glorious things I’ve ever seen.

3. Stephen F. Austin State Cheer I, Small Coed I

What’s really weird about SFA is that they are so much better in smoed than in large, which for whatever reason, doesn’t tend to be the case for other teams. Does SFA just spend more time on this team? Or what? Either way, I’m obsessed and am dying to see what they do this year in smoed. These folks kill it with energy every freaking year.

4. Navarro College Junior College

Do Navarro students just study cheerleading all day? Because holy crap. They are UNREAL. It’s so weird because even though they’re in the junior college division, this team could totally hold its own in DI or DIA. Like, they’re a total dynasty and have owned junior college for years. Unlucky ducks for the other folks in their division, huh?

5. Texas Tech University Cheer IA

Okay, okay, I admit it– one of my favorite parts of TTU’s cheer team is that the boys on it are the prettiest male cheerleaders at the entire event, but that’s not the whole reason why I love them! TTU is such a strong contender in cheer IA, and I love every year being able to see them get closer and closer on OSU and Louisville. I hope I get to see them creep up on those two teams even further this year. Nothing like a super close competition to get your blood rushing, am I right?

Who are you all excited to see cheer at NCA Nationals? Are there any kickass all girl teams that you think should be highlighted? Let me know!

5 Teams to Watch At UDA Nationals 2015

UDA_Title

GUYS GUYS GUYS. We’re only a few days away from Universal Dance Association Collegiate Nationals in Orlando, Florida! Even though my team doesn’t attend these nationals (we do NDA in Daytona! See my post here for more about my team and nationals,) we get so freaking excited every year to tune in and watch some of the incredible teams who compete at UDA. UDA Nationals always start the weekend that my team moves in early to start our Daytona Season training, and it’s a great way for our team to bond and get really excited for our own road ahead.

There are always some amazing teams at UDA that literally blow our minds apart. UDA tends to be a little bit more about technique, where NDA does a little bit more with overall performance and spirit/tradition of the teams; both competitions have fierce ccompetitors. Here’s my list of the top 5 teams to be on the lookout for this season.

1. The University of Nevada Las Vegas Division IA Hip Hop, IA Pom

How did they not win last year? How, how, hooooow? Don’t get me wrong, Cincinnati was amazing, and nobody can take that away from them, but jeez, UNLV is like where God sends His Son to learn hip hop because they are just the gold standard. I can’t wait to see what they do this year because, dang, I’m rooting for this team. Here’s their game from 2013:

2. The University of Tennessee Division IA Jazz, IA Hip Hop

Tennessee has the distinct honor of performing my favorite dance team routine Of. All. Time. It was back in 2009 and they did half the routine to the Vitamin String Quartet version of “Iris” by the GooGoo Dolls, and just at the build, they had a group holding an almost 180 degree ponche and then they hit their peak as the music switched to that point of the song in the GooGoo Dolls version. It was amazing. So many dance teams do this now, but Tennessee was definitely the first. Last year they got second in IA jazz and sixth in IA hip hop. Hip hop is rad, but I’m really waiting to see what they do in jazz. Tennessee will always have a special place in my heart. Take a look at their Home Camp routine from this past summer:

3. The College of St. Benedict Open Jazz, Open Pom

The College of St. Benedict, although only coming in fifth place in 2014, is always a team I’m super amped to watch. Dancing one of the most breath-taking routines back in 2013 to an a capella version of “The Climb,” this team has had my support ever since. Don’t get me wrong– University of St. Thomas is so technical and Lindenwood is also unreal, but St. Benedict will always have a warm place in my heart after that routine. And their pom?! Jeez Louise. So great. No words. Obsessed. Here’s last year’s pom:

4. Cal. State Fullerton Division I Jazz Division I Pom

These girls are wild. They have so much energy. Last year (2014) was the first year they did pom, and they rocked it out getting second. The weakness that I saw was that their power level dropped more by the end of their (super long) routine, while winners North Dakota State didn’t have that much of a decline. I think that Cal State Fullerton started out stronger, but that meant that they had further to drop. This year they definitely have a good chance of stealing the title from defending champs North Dakota State in pom. For jazz… Oh jeeze. This team has always been incredible. Their 2013 routine to “I Surrender” by Celine Dion was crazy. Last year’s was stunning, too. There’s a reason why they have two national championships in jazz under their belts. Can someone please tell me how a team manages to do two incredible routines at nationals?! And do football and basketball games? Because to me that’s crazy. Take a gander at their national title-holding jazz routine from 2014:

5. The University of Minnesota Division IA Jazz, IA Pom

Because, honestly, if you aren’t obsessed with Minnesota, you have something wrong with you. THESE GIRLS ARE ROBOTS I SWEAR. They have unbelievable technique, probably an infinite money pool to work from (all of their jazz routines are done by Carl Mundt, I believe [forgive me if I’m wrong], and he does not come cheap,) and those girls are so freakin’ passionate. No matter what, each year I’m dying to know what they’re going to pull out of their sleeves.

Honorable Mentions:

I mean of course I’m going to watch everyone– am I the only one who feels like there aren’t enough dances to watch at UDA Nationals? Thank God the NDTC is held only two weeks later and I can get my fill with amazing high school dancers (preview for that post: The only team that is relevant is Westmoore. I guess sometimes Coral Reef.) Here are some other teams to really keep your eye out for:

Bridgewater State University– Open Jazz (Gotta give them a shoutout because their coach is an ACDT alum! Go Cassie!!)

Westfield State University– Open Hip Hop (one of their seniors is a North Andover School of Dance alum!)

Arizona State University– IA Jazz, IA Hip Hop

Louisiana State University Tiger Girls– IA Jazz, IA Hip Hop

Hofstra University– I Jazz, I Hip Hop

Welcome 2015: My New Years Resolutions (the absurd, the normal, and the somewhere in between)

2015 Resolutions

Ack!!! Happy New Years, everyone!

I’m kind of torn on how I feel about New Years resolutions– on the one hand, I want to be super anti-establishment and blow them off; on the other hand, I like goal-setting and working toward something. But when it really comes down to it, I think all of this “new year, new me,” stuff is absolute crap. What’s wrong with who you are right now? Why not take this new year, take who you are, and make something great? Why do you need to change? (I think it’s a similar principle to those who decide to chop off all of their hair after they break up with a boy– like, oh wow, you really showed him!) I’ve never thought melodrama an attractive quality in people, and people who slave over reinventing themselves at the start of a new year are the worst brand of melodramatic.

That all said, I do have goals for 2015, but that doesn’t mean yesterday I went out and bought a whole new wardrobe and started doing my make up differently and became a new me for a new year. Instead I woke up, was the same old me I’ve always been, and started doing things instead of changing things.

The Resolutions:

1. Start writing poetry again (because, poetry, you’ve saved my life in more ways than you could know)

2. Blog better, with more consistency, good substance, and getting a higher reach

3. Graduate magna cum laude (come on… just .05 GPA points to go!)

4. Get a job within one month of graduating Assumption

5. Rock the hell out of the Provoc‘s relaunch (coming SOON this January– way too excited)

6. Learn more about the Adobe suite, especially Illustrator and Photoshop (woohoo for better blog graphics!)

7. Stay in touch with my high school friends as a bunch of them start to relocate for jobs (don’t leave, John and Josh!)

nda nationals8. Make it straight into finals with the AC Dance Team at National Dance Alliance Collegiate Finals

9. Get a bangin’ Daytona body for NDA Nationals (read: work my butt off to make #8 a reality, get hot in the process)

10. Grow my hair so long I can belt it and wear it as a dress (NOTE: may not be entirely possible, but we’ll try)

If you want to hear more about my views about New Years resolutions, check out my FIRST EVER (oh my goodness) Provoc article all about them!