BYU Cougarettes discuss team’s lifelong impact on personal lives

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BYU Cougarettes shared how their experience on the dance team has influenced their college career, both physically and spiritually.

The BYU Cougarettes is a competitive cheer and dance team, made up of a select group of talented student dancers who go through a rigorous audition process. They perform at several athletic competitions and events on campus and represent BYU at several national events. 

The group won both the Division 1A hip hop and jazz national championships at the 2022 NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship. Their dance routine “Baseline” was choreographed by Shandon Perez.

The BYU Cougarettes performed at the D1A NDA Hip Hop National Championship in 2022. The group took first place at the competition. (BYU Cougarettes via Youtube)

Although their national titles help the team gain visibility, the Cougarettes became a recognizable name after their viral video performing with BYU mascot Cosmo the Cougar gained more than 12 million views on YouTube. Cosmo has participated in many performances since then. 

“Being a Cougarette has totally affected how my life has played out these past two years,” Cougarette Brynnley Huntsman said.

Huntsman said the unique opportunities and training this team has shaped her college experience. She said being a Cougarette has given her some of her best friends and provided her with the opportunity to be “a part of a program that is bigger than myself.”

“I believe our experiences shape who we are, and through this program I have been able to experience college in such a unique way that I wouldn’t ever trade,” she said. 

Hallie Blodgett grew up as part of this community, dancing at several local studios and for her high school drill team. She commented on why she believes this team is so sought out. The ability to “feel part of something” is a motivating factor she said.

Blodgett shares her thoughts about the impact of the team. (Kaitlyn Schreiner)

Ambrie Kirkham is new to the team this year, but is not new to the world of dance. Kirkham said she has been dancing since she was two years old, and has carried her passion into her college ambitions. 

Kirkham said she is able to see the difference being a member of this team has had on her personal life, and for her, it is spiritual. 

“Being a Cougarette has helped me to better include Christ in my life,” she said. “Every other week we discuss a conference talk before practice and it’s been so touching to hear my teammates’ testimonies and help me grow my own.”

Kirkham said they are able to grow not only as better dancers, but as better disciples of Jesus Christ. “Having a united faith in Christ not only helps us grow closer, but helps us dance as one,” Kirkham said. “As a Cougarette, our purpose is to share the light of Christ through dance. Being on the team has motivated me to be a better follower of Him.”

Brynli Swallow, a senior on the team, said she has spent a lot of time reflecting on her time as a BYU Cougarette, and that because of her time on the team, she will never be the same. Like Kirkham, Swallow has learned there is a connection between dance and faith.

She said, “Cougarettes has taught me so many life lessons that I’ll always be grateful for. One of the most important things I’ve learned is how I can use the talents God has blessed me with to glorify Him. He is the reason for it all.”

Swallows focus is on using her talents as an expression of her faith. She continued saying, “There have been many opportunities through Cougarettes where we have been able to share His light and our testimonies of Him through the gift of dance. I’ve been able to come to know my Savior better than before because of this amazing dance program.”

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