As far as Amy Marcom is concerned, there are plenty of reasons why her Waupaca High School dance team returned from the state cheer/pom competition with two more state titles.
Twenty-seven of them, in fact.
“I definitely had the numbers,” said Marcom, who started the program from scratch 13 years ago. “This is the largest team I’ve ever coached. We started out with 27 because (Rotary exchange student) Paz (Gardella) from Argentina danced with us for a few months. She left, so another dancer who wasn’t dancing took her spot.”
The team won a Division 2 championship in Jazz and a Division 3 title in Pom Feb. 1 at the state competition in La Crosse. If that sounds familiar, it should. The squad also won championships in both events last year as well.
“Two years in a row, it’s definitely an accomplishment,” Marcom said. “The pressure this year to defend was a whole new game for us. It was much more challenging and a lot of pressure on the kids. They were definitely the best performances that we’ve had all season. Our Pom routine was fabulous, but our Jazz routine was unstoppable. The girls’ emotion and what they put on the floor was just the most amazing finale that I could wish for.”
Team members include seniors Courtney Bloom, McKenna Gustke, Courtney Jungers, Abby Paynter, Aubrey Schroeder and Kayla Thiele; juniors Diana Chu, Emily Cummings, Alexa Johnson and Kelsie Krawczyk; sophomores Cheyenne Bennett, Samantha Geary, Madison Hansen, Claire Jungers, Kelsey Klismet, Kira Mielke, Brenna Neumann, Julianne Reynolds, Brooklyn Rohloff, Abby Stone and Nikky Weise; and freshmen Zoe Johnson, Grace Koch, Mackenzie Morey, Hannah Nasberg and Caroline Ogden.
The five seniors served as team captains.
“The numbers on the floor really helped, but I definitely feel that my captains this year had such a drive after what happened last year,” Marcom said. “They all have different personalities, so they all lead in different ways. Normally, they just do the opposite of what I do. If I’m nervous and crabby, they’re soft and gentle. If I’m feeling a little weak, they step it up.”
The team also placed first in each of their competitions this season and the Wisconsin Association of Cheer/Pom Coaches selected Marcom as its coach of the year.
“It certainly is nice to be rewarded for what I love the most,” she said. “I know the nomination process is lengthy. To be voted on by the board members of the WACPC is an honor.”
The team performed both routines for parents and fans Feb. 3 at the school while also showing off their trophies and plaques from the season.
Although the team doesn’t start competing until November, workouts begin in the summer.
“We practice one or two days in the summer just to start getting into shape and start practicing in September,” Marcom said. “Some teams perform during the football season, but we don’t. Some teams start right away in the summer to be ready for that season, but we don’t need to worry about that. When we start, we start working on our competitive routines right off the bat.
“We practice three hours a day, five days a week,” she added. “Their bodies are taking a lot and they’re juggling school. The dedication and commitment is gigantic, especially from their parents. We have 2 1/2 minutes for 26 girls to do exactly what they need to do. We don’t have halftime, we don’t have timeouts. For us to do our best in that small amount of time is challenging.”
The team focuses on two routines during the season.
“I do all the choreography, choosing the music and designing costumes,” Marcom said. “There’s a process.”
The team has picked up plenty of fans along the way and many of them were at the La Crosse Center for the state competition.
“It’s unbelievable to me, especially in my 13th year of coaching,” Marcom said. “It’s hard for me to walk out at the La Crosse Center and see the mass amounts of people.”
Marcom said a turning point for the program came in 2008 with a Division 2 Jazz state championship.
“That was a big turning point, not just for the community and my team, but for me, too,” she said. “I never had an issue with people trying out. I always had big numbers. Getting the acceptance and sticking with it was definitely a journey.”
Now that the 2013-14 season is over, Marcom is already looking forward to what’s down the road.
“It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “I already have fears for next year with the expectations. There are a lot of kids returning and I have a good crew coming in from eighth grade, too.”