Cougarettes prepare for 2016-17 season

The BYU Cougarettes pose for a team picture earlier this year. The Cougarettes are gearing up for BYU's home sports schedule. (BYU Cougarettes)
The BYU Cougarettes smile for a team picture earlier this year. The Cougarettes are gearing up for BYU’s home sports schedule. (BYU Cougarettes)

Life as a Cougarette is a demanding one. Being a member of one of the most successful dance teams in the nation requires stamina, finesse, determination and plenty of hard work.

With a new home sports season — and the football team’s first home game — just around the corner, the team has established goals both on and off the floor.

To make the team, hopeful dancers and returning members go through a 12-hour tryout in March where they learn dance combinations and routines.

Head coach Jodi Maxfield said it’s a taxing time of year for the entire team.

“Tryouts are always very stressful for everybody,” Maxfield said. “Myself included.”

She added that it’s also an exciting time as the team ushers in a new crop of talent.

Junior Gabrielle Hicken echoed Maxfield’s sentiments.

“Tryouts are intimidating, but it’s also cool to be with girls who are all so talented,” Hicken said. “A big part about auditions is to see how you fit in with the team.”

Team cohesiveness is a crucial element of the Cougarettes’ success. Routines are planned so meticulously that even the slightest hiccup can ruin a performance.

“We dance as one; we try to incorporate that in all of our routines, even our football sidelines,” said sophomore Seneca Fisher. “We spend hours in practice matching angles and moves so that we can look our best at games and performances.”

Now the team is preparing to perform in front of a sold-out crowd at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Sept. 17 as the BYU football team hosts UCLA in its home opener.

Hicken said the Cougarettes are looking forward to performing in front of the more than 60,000 fans.

“I’m excited to see the energy we bring to the fans and how they reciprocate,” Hicken said. “It’s a cool experience to be on the field and to look at the whole ROC and feed off their energy. The crowd brings an energy that sparks more effort and commitment to your game-day role.”

The Cougarettes spend hours perfecting their dances but Maxfield explained the team has goals beyond their flawless routines.

One of the team’s many objectives is to share the “light of Christ” through dance. The Cougarettes are currently reading the Book of Mormon together as a team.

“This is a year of growth for them,” Maxfield said. “A year where they really feel that they are accomplishing and achieving great things in their life.”

But Maxfield said she expects great things on the field, too.

“The team has bonded in such an amazing way,” Maxfield said in an e-mail. “They genuinely love each other and are excited to be teammates and are all invested in the cause of ‘Repping the Y’ and making this an amazing year.”

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