By Alecia Burningham
Not only are they the highlight of half-time and a BYU icon, the Cougarettes have rocked the nation with their talent as their competition scores soared straight to the top.
The BYU Cougarettes were recently named the National Collegiate Dance Team Champions, a title they know well. The team earned the same distinction in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
One hundred and eighty universities and colleges from around the nation competed in four divisions during the two-day competition. Teams qualified for the competition by submitting a videotape.
It feels fabulous to be a national champion, said Kristin Redford, 21, a junior from Provo, majoring in elementary education.
“When we first got there, we were really determined to get first,” she said. “We were so excited to perform and just get out there and do it.”
The first day of competition included the preliminaries, where the top ten teams are chosen for the final competition. The Cougarettes earned a 9.5, which put them in first place going into the finals and meant they would perform last in the competition.
“Since we were the last team to compete in the final round, we knew going into the routine that we had to beat North Carolina”s score, which was a 9.4,” said Jodi Maxfield, artistic director of the Cougarettes. “Our performance was fairly flawless and when they announced our 9.7, it was such a decisive win and we were amazed that our score was so high.”
The dancers have a time limit of two minutes and 15 seconds to perform their dance. They are also required to perform 30 seconds of consecutive movements from three styles including pom, which uses high kicks and sharp movements, funk and jazz, Maxfield said.
The Cougarettes” strength is jazz and that makes up the majority of their routine, she said. This year, however, they showed off their developing funk skills.
“I”m really proud of these girls because in the past we”ve been criticized that our funk style was a bit lacking,” Maxfield said. “But this year we earned tens on that section and a lot of people said that we showed that we really knew how to funk.”
Not only were the Cougarettes the Division 1A champions, they were the grand champions for earning the highest score of all the divisions.
The Cougarettes competed in front of about 20,000 spectators in an arena built right on the beach in Daytona.
“It was very difficult because there were a lot of distractions, such as the sun and wind,” Maxfield said. “It was a challenge for the girls to stay focused but they did a great job.”
Maxfield kept her girls busy rehearsing and no one was allowed to go swimming until after the finals competition. After their victory, the girls spent a relaxing day at the beach.
The Cougarettes were also busy being missionaries, Maxfield said.
“The girls were outstanding examples of the university,” Maxfield said. “They talked to other schools about our beliefs, the uniqueness of our school and we let them know what we”re about as far as religion.”
The Cougarettes handed out copies of the Book of Mormons: Another Testament of Jesus Christ to each team with their testimonies, a picture and a note that wished them good luck.
“At the preliminaries there was a girl that came over to us and told how awesome we did and how much her team looked up to us,” said Redford. “She said we had given them a book last year and it meant to so much to them that they took it with them to all their performances for good luck.”
Just because they were the best this year does not mean they will be relaxing, however. Being national champions is that much more motivation to work hard next year, said Briana Olsen, 20, a sophomore from Lindon, Utah County, majoring in math education.
“There is more pressure to impress them even more and to do even better next year,” she said. “But it was awesome to work so hard and see it happen this year.”
The Cougarettes winning performance will be broadcast Saturday on CBS, local station channel 2, at 1 p.m.
As Maxfield prepares to audition new Cougarettes, she said the win gives her that much more fuel and desire to make next year as good, if not better.
“These girls have worked really hard and I”ve been proud of them all year long,” Maxfield said.