By Hope Eaton
In the 13 years that Carol Cheatham coached Crosby Middle School’s dance team, she noticed that the playing field was not even.
The incoming 6th graders struggled with tryouts as they had little-to-no dance experience. This limited the opportunities for them to support their school. Carol thought of her daughter, who attended Stopher Elementary; how would her daughter be prepared for middle school tryouts? Carol envisioned opportunities for middle school kids to have a leg up.
As competitive sports evolved and more middle schools expanded their sports offerings, it became apparent that the way to give middle school kids more opportunities was to start at the elementary level.
In 2010, Carol formed the Stopher Elementary dance team. From start up to National Championship winning team, it has been a journey. The inaugural year presented 15 young girls eager to be a part of history. During the 2014-2015 school year, seven 5th graders, four 4th graders, and two 3rd graders made the team. There have been as many as 19 members since inception.
In order to earn the funds to make the dance team possible, Stopher’s dance team fundraises. Fundraising efforts include: hosting K-3rd grade dance clinics; three after-school dances; and car washes in the summer. Superb parent involvement is the key to successful fundraising.
With the support of Principal Dr. Owens, the Stopher Elementary dance team performs several times a year including four to five school basketball games per season, splitting its time with the cheer squad. Other performances include half-time performances at University of Louisville basketball games as well as regional and national trips. It is performances like these where Carol is able to showcase her team’s athleticism and versatile skill set.
Carol has two choreographers she uses for the team. Allie Bone choreographed the hip hop routine this year. Longtime friend and studio owner of Dynamic Dance (Bowling Green) Stephanie Pennington choreographed the pom routine. Both routines won national honors.
Building an award-winning dance team is not easy, especially when there is a mixture of experienced and inexperienced dancers every year. However, Carol has achieved just that in five years. From their first win in 2011 to an undefeated year in 2013 to Grand Champs in 2015, Carol has built a traditional powerhouse in dance.
To prepare for the start of the new season in August 2015, Carol will hold tryouts in May. Stay on the lookout for much more success from this phenomenal dance team.
For a complete list of awards, see below.
2011 JAMfest Mega-JAM Champions – Hip Hop
2012 JAMfest Game Day Champions – Pom & Hip Hop
2012 JAMfest National Champions – Pom
2013 JAMfest Game Day Champions – Pom & Hip Hop
2013 JAMfest Super National Champions – Pom & Hip Hop
2013 U.S. Finals Regional Champions – Pom
2013 U.S. Finals Overall Grand Champions – Pom
2014 NDA National Champions – Hip Hop
2015 UDA National Champions – Hip Hop
2015 JAMfest National Champions – Pom
2015 JAMfest Grand Champions – Pom