MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - The Minnesota State University, Mankato Dance Team has been practicing over four and a half hours per day for the last week to prepare themselves for the Universal Dance Association camp in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
“During our practices we really focus on conditioning, stretching, getting the girls working together as a team finding that team bonding and then we also work on their game day and home routine for camp,” Head Coach Jennifer James said.
“I think the hardest part about these long practices is just our sore muscles, we did have a fitness test yesterday and I think that cheering each other on through it all really helped us, we do pair up with our little sister or big sister, rookies and vets which really helps just the attitude and the energy at practice,” said Co-Captain Kallie Miller.
“It was kind of a wake-up call because I’ve done dance team and studio dance but at a college level is completely different and I’ve never ever experienced anything like this before so it’s been pretty intense but I love it so much and I wouldn’t give it up for anything,” dancer Karley Odella said.
The UDA Camp is held at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells. The team will spend four days working to improve for the upcoming sideline and competition seasons.
“We actually leave the night before just to get our brains and mind’s ready to go and so you wake up you get there, you go to a camp show where the staff shows off what they can do and then we learn routines, you learn your routine in one day and then you have the other three days to practice it. There’s team bonding activities, there’s a master class and we also love seeing the mascots there, they’re super funny, I know we always cheer on the U of M mascot as we have that Minnesota pride so it’s always fun,” Miller added.
“I’m excited to see all the different teams that we’ll be competing against later on at nationals, they said that this is the one time that we see them before and then we only see them again at nationals so I’m excited to see all the different teams, I wasn’t really big into college dance team before I decided to try out so I’m interested to see what everyone else looks like and what they’re like as a team and stuff so yeah that’s what I’m looking forward to,” Odella said.
The team had a successful run at nationals last season, taking home gold with their poms routine.
“Coming off a win from last year you kind of have an added pressure which we try not to focus on it, we focus on being our best and bringing our best that we can bring to the floor so we’ll still be continuing with our training and with our conditioning adding in gymnastics and just trying to take our performance to the next level,” James said.
“I know for all of us rookies it’s a lot of pressure but it’s like a good pressure we want that pressure on us so that we can hopefully do two wins this year like two natty champs but for sure it’s a lot of pressure because we’re going into camp as a whole new team and especially with them coming off of a win last year we want to show everyone that even though we’re rookies, we can help this team out and maybe get another win,” Odella said.
“I would say our biggest thing with our mindset this year is we want to be better than our best selves, we want to beat ourselves, we don’t want to beat anybody else, we want to be better than our best. Last year was our best, we did bring what we could to the floor but I know we can grow from that, we can keep getting better. We’re working on team aerials right now as well as many other gymnastics skills as a team so that we can add those into our routine for more difficulty points, complexity, and visual effectiveness, all of that kind of stuff,” Miller said.
The team leaves for Chula Vista Wednesday afternoon.
“I can’t wait, it’s going to be a blast and I’m just excited to see what we bring this year,” Miller said.