The dance team reluctantly arrived home today after 4 days in Daytona, Florida for the NDA and NCA Collegiate National Championship. The four days were so eventful that there is no way I can write about them in one post and really do them justice, so this post is the first of a series of posts that will detail the insanity that was Nationals for SCDT.
Wednesday morning, I woke up before my alarm set for 4:00 am. I turned off my alarm, crept out of bed, and finished packing as quietly as I could so as not to wake Katherine. At 4:50 am I met Deana, Emily, and Jill in the lobby of our res hall and we dragged our luggage across campus to the SpoCo where the shuttle was waiting to bring us to the airport. This is a big upgrade from years previous when the team would have to beg and bribe friends to wake up at some inhuman hour of the morning to drive the team to the airport (since there’s no way for us to afford parking).
We arrived safely at the airport and onto our first flight which brought us to our connecting flight in DC. With fifteen minutes until our second flight boarded, the team settled in the gate and prepared for the third leg of the trip.
Meanwhile, I was tracking down the first of what would be eleven vanilla (or chocolate) kreme donuts (for full detail of my obsession with these donuts, see my previous post).
Orlando to Daytona should only take one hour and three minutes according to Google maps. But, somehow, our bus driver managed to turn it into an hour and forty-five so that by the time we got to the hotel we barely had time to unpack before we had to head out to our practice times. We quickly changed into flip-flops and practice clothes, admired the view from our balcony at the hotel, and set off towards the Bandshell!
We situated ourselves on a nice patch of grass outside the Hilton and ran through formations aside the dance team from UMASS (which my friend Vanessa is on) and the cheer squad from Hawaii Pacific until it was time to head over to the Ocean Center for our first of many practice times we would have.
On our way there we passed by the famous Bandshell where finals would be held on Friday:
I had danced on the Bandshell before when I was a freshmen in high school with my dance studio from home, but I knew that if we got to dance there at finals it would be a totally different experience. It would be packed, the sun would be beating down onto the stage, the beach was just to our left and the breeze would be all that could keep us cool while we performed. Of the entire team, only three members had danced there before: Janna, Lisa, and Leanne. My freshmen year we didn’t make finals and last year it rained so it had to be moved inside. Needless to say, we were all dying to have a chance to perform on the Bandshell at finals.
At the Ocean Center, every team was given 12 minutes to stretch, 12 minutes with a strip of marley to practice turns, and 12 minutes with a full floor of marley to run through their routine. The huge warehouse was packed with teams rotating through the stations. Music blared from 6 different stereos while cheer teams and dance teams practiced on opposite sides of the space. This was another change from last year since in previous years we had utilized ballrooms in the Hilton hotel as practice space.
I missed using the ballrooms because I felt like I didn’t get to see as many dance teams warming up as we usually do. Normally we walk into the Hilton and we see dance teams from every division stretching, marking routines, and going over formations. This wasn’t the case in the large, very noisy Ocean Center which we would soon come to know very well.
After a successful practice it was finally dinner time. The team headed to Sloppy Joe’s where we were told there was a very long wait, but not exactly how long. Assuming it’d be a while since there were 22 of us, Kim, Melissa, Jill and I darted off down the stairs to the beach to put our toes in the ocean for the first time since arriving.
Satisfied, we returned to the restaurant where we were soon seated and enjoyed a huge, well-earned dinner.
As we ate we heard one of our Nationals songs:
We will, we will, rock you!
We all agreed it was a good sign.
We headed back to the hotel that night full and tired from a day of traveling and practice. The next day was the all important Preliminary Competition to determine which talented teams would be advancing on to finals on the Bandshell! We would have to be up early to watch T.J’s team (our choreographer) and our cheerleaders at their prelims performances, and also to do our hair and makeup to be ready for our prelims performance at 2:12pm!
Check in tomorrow for a post about prelims!