In only its second year, the Floyd Dryden Middle School dance team has achieved success without having to cut or exclude any students from the team.
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Head coach Jamie Miller, who started the program last year, decided not to cut any athlete. Her decision resulted in a 65-member team that Miller coached on her own.
This year, the team encompasses 72 team members - 69 girls and three boys.
"Our goal is to create team unity," Miller said.
The team practices Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. On top of that, several squad leaders go to extra practices on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., as well as Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m.
The team's squad leaders also helped mold the values and goals of the team. They came up with team guidelines such as maintaining good grades and staying positive. Like other school sports, the team must maintain good academic standing to remain on the squad.
There is no activities bus for early morning practice, so the team relies on dedicated parents to help with transportation.
"(The) parent's support is critical for the success of the team," assistant coach Audra Henderson said. "A huge reason is transportation at 6:45 in the morning."
Miller and Henderson have the unique and lofty task of molding these 72 members into a full-fledged dance team.
"Our biggest challenge is the different levels of the dancers because there are no cuts and lots of different skill levels," Miller said.
The dance team performed Saturday at a Southeast Region Middle School Wrestling Tournament and will also show their stuff at the Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament, JDHS Showtime and an end of the season show.
Miller helped launch the Floyd Dryden dance team last year when she went to various schools teaching a hip-hop aerobics class. Three girls from Floyd Dryden asked her if she would start a team for the school and she agreed.
The team kicked off when Floyd Dryden physical education teacher Molly Box helped secure a grant for coaching compensation.
In an effort to keep the team going, the dancers sell packets of cookie dough to the community and seeks out sponsorships from local business. This year, the team hopes to raise enough funds to afford team outfits - including shoes for each of its 72 members.
In addition to coaching the dance team, Miller and Henderson are both full-time students at University of Alaska Southeast.
Both coaches are also former members of the Juneau-Douglas High School Drill Team.
In addition to building a squad, the coaches also seem to be doing so without leaving anyone out.
Floyd Dryden dance team
Madeleina Ellingson-Van Sickle
Anna Gonwa Romanda
Emily Anne Lohray
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