For the second straight year, the Mepham High School kickline team placed first in two categories at the Scholastic Kickline Competition at Nassau Community College, earning the Champion of Champions title in the lyrical and pom categories after securing the highest cumulative score in a series of three scholastic competitions Feb. 28. The girls also placed first in kick in their division.
And while the 2008-09 team earned the title Champion of Champions, that also put pressure on this year's team to succeed. "Our success as a team last year kind of set the bar for us this year, so we had to live up to everything we learned," senior captain Mell Foldez said.
Coach Kerry Dennis added, "That was a little bit of a fear, too. What happens if you don't achieve that after doing so well? So I think that motivated them on a daily basis to go out there and prove that it wasn't a fluke that they did really well that year, that they were building a program that was going to continuously do that well."
Along with Foldez, senior captain Jenna Klerer and junior captain Samantha Zuckerman said that while the team lost five girls to graduation, the squad only got stronger. For the first time, the Pirettes competed in a fourth category, adding jazz to their program. Mepham consistently placed fourth throughout the season in jazz, with only eight girls dancing in a category that allows as many as 25 dancers. Klerer, who is the only senior who competed in jazz, was given full reign to choreograph a strong routine. Coach Dennis, along with coach Jackie Miller, noted that the jazz team received positive feedback from the judges, and that it was just another aspect to continue building on moving forward.
Just like in jazz, the three captains were given the power to choose the music, themes and choreography for competitions. But the captains weren't the only ones who the squad looked to for support at competitions and in life outside of kickline. Six seniors on a team of 21 made for a constant support system. "The captains did the choreography and really led the team, and yet the seniors were a huge support staff," Miller noted.
While the seniors were there for the younger girls, that held true for every team member. The girls had sleep-overs before every competition and did one another's makeup in the morning. They also joined forces to host "So They Think They Can Dance," an event held on March 2 to raise money for the team's costumes.
Spending so much time together turned the squad into far more than a group of teammates, which showed in their performances, both coaches and captains noted.
"When we're together as a team and we're not dancing, it's completely a family. I'm so close to all these girls. I know that all of us come to each other for everything," Klerer said. "We're all so close."
For Zuckerman, the sole captain to return next year, the idea of taking the reins without the seniors next year is a painful one, so too is the idea of not seeing their faces in the hallways. She said she could turn to her teammates for anything. "It's so much more than kickline," she said.
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