Oct. 7, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Sara Thompson
|The national champion Orange Pride Dance Team struts their stuff during the football games as part of the preparation for the annual competition in Daytona Beach, Fla. —Photo by Katie Blalock (Below) Orange Pride co-captain Hannah Shields. —Home page and photo below by Brian Blalock|
Witnessing Sam Houston State University senior Hannah Shields’ half time performances alongside her Orange Pride dance team, one would never know her true feelings.
As each performance brings her closer to graduation next May, she knows one day, sooner rather than later, she will dance her last routine before facing a college student’s biggest fear—the “next step.”
Yet, in the stadiums’ spotlights, Shields continues to perform her kicks and eight counts with ease, thanks to a promise she made to herself this fall.
Even though it’s her “year of lasts” Shields isn’t slowing down until “the team wins another first.”
For Shields, who is one of the team’s co-captains this year, it’s a way of pushing herself and her teammates towards their “biggest aspiration.” A goal that she refers to as a “three-peat” —taking home a national championship title this spring for the third year in a row.
A goal that she refers to as a “three-peat” —taking home a national championship title this spring for the third year in a row.
Shields and her other captains, senior Melissa Compain and junior Everest Guerra, have been members of the team for both previous national titles, in 2009 and 2010, at the National Cheerleaders Association/National Dance Association Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla.
“It’s impossible to explain the feeling and energy as all our preparation comes down to those seconds when they announce Orange Pride as national champions,” said Shields. “It was a big rush.”
This year, 16 dancers joined Orange Pride and the captains have already made a point to “spread the enthusiasm and winning spirit” to the team’s new members.
“We definitely lucked out this year with some wonderful dancers that are ready to give 100 percent,” said Compain. “They’re already a part of our family.”
According to the team’s head coach Sarah Pritchard, the team’s bond is a result of “their unceasing dedication and determination.”
“Some of these new girls are dancing from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. every single day,” said Pritchard. “They’ve all committed to this goal not only for themselves, but for each other.”
According to Shields, it was a commitment that began right after the new Orange Pride team was picked in April.
During the end of the spring semester the team practiced 24 hours a week before they attended summer camps and vigorous practices where they were challenged with new choreography.
However, the girls learned to sync more than just their pirouettes over the summer. They also obtained some much-needed bonding time in between training.
As each dancing counterpart inevitably forms one inseparable team, Pritchard gets to repeatedly experience one of her favorite parts of coaching Orange Pride.
“After long, summer practices the girls have all found a love for each other and have started working hard for each other instead of themselves,” said Pritchard. “That is when I know they are truly a team.”
To the new members, two back-to-back championships may seem like a daunting task, especially when more than half the team is new members. Yet, the three captains unanimously agree that each Orange Pride member is ready to “pull their own weight” to earn another championship title.
“Our biggest hope as captains is that we get to share the experience of winning a national title with the new members,” said Compain. “In some ways, it’s us leaving our legacy here at SHSU.”
Until the next national tournament in April, Shields says she will continue to motivate her team and work to keep the promise she has made to herself.
“Being on Orange Pride the past three years has been incredible and I know this year will only make the experience that much better,” Shields said.
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