Iowa Dance Makes History at UCA/UDA Nationals

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Not only did the University of Iowa dance team make history at the 2017 UCA/UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championships last month, they did so in the most magical place on earth… Disney World.
On Saturday, Jan. 14, the Hawkeye dance team placed third in the Pom category, tying the highest finish in the history of the Iowa dance team. The Hawkeyes also placed third in 1989. Iowa’s third-place finish sealed a Big Ten sweep for the conference with Minnesota taking first and Ohio State placing second.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said senior Christy Hunt. “This is my final year with the team and it’s nice knowing that we went out with a bang. It’s a great legacy for us to leave behind.”
Iowa’s historic finish did not come without hard work and sacrifice. While many UI students went home for winter break, the Hawkeyes remained on campus to perfect their routines.
“We don’t get much of a break,” said junior Mallory Gillispie. “We do three-a-days during break with a practice in the morning, afternoon, and evening. We also took the opportunity to compete in Chicago, so we spent a day traveling there and back competing. It’s quite the time commitment.”
For Gillispie and the Hawkeyes, the hours spent on campus perfecting routines were well worth the reward.
“It’s an amazing feeling to know that all of our hard work was rewarded,” Gillispie said. “We continued the legacy of the Iowa dance team. Hopefully this can set up future teams for success and keep us in the national spotlight.”
While it was a business trip for the Hawkeyes, the squad did get some time to enjoy their surroundings, including the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
“Competing in the ESPN Zone is something that not a lot of dancers get to do,” said Gillispie. “It’s amazing because it’s such a great venue. It’s focused on championship-level dancing. It’s awesome to see all the Big Ten and SEC dance and cheer teams along with their mascots in one arena competing for that title. It’s an atmosphere that you can’t even describe.”
“We dream about dancing in front of the castle all year, so we felt relieved when we made it to finals,” said Hunt. “It hypes up the experience, because you know that it’s a nationally-recognized stage. It’s such an honor to perform on it.”
A trip to the park was a must, too.
“We got the opportunity to go to the park the Monday after the competition,” said freshman Mia Spitzer. “My favorite part was going to Animal Kingdom and riding the rides as a team. It was a great bonding experience.”
With an historic finish under their belts, the Hawkeyes look ahead to tryouts in April.
“We are going to have a whole new crop of girls coming in and trying out,” Gillispie said. “We’re going to keep stepping up our level and hopefully we get some girls next year that work just as hard to keep this legacy going.”