Silver Stars take home two national titles

Placing first in two categories, the team brought home National titles for the third year in a row at the NDA National Championship Competition Friday, March 3 to Sunday, March 5.

Anna Zwahlen and Abby Riggs

For the third year in a row, the Silver Stars dance team has taken home the gold at the National Dance Association competition, taking first in small varsity pom and medium varsity game day divisions with a runner up title in small varsity jazz. 

Each routine the team competed with has its own difficulties, none being any easier than another. Assistant coach and Silver Star alumni Sarah Amos emphasizes that the requirements for each routine are rigorous for the dancers.

“They’re all very difficult routines for different reasons,” Amos said. ”The game day one [is] three minutes straight up dancing and in terms of stamina, that one’s definitely really difficult. Pom is also a very high energy routine with a lot of technique, so that one’s also difficult. Jazz requires you to have a lot of emotion and use a lot of technical skills as well.”

In order to fulfill the demands of these routines, the Silver Stars devote extensive amounts of time, effort and energy to their preparation for nationals.

Winning a national title felt so surreal. Seeing all the hard work and hours of practicing finally pay off was so satisfying.

— sophomore Josie Mason

According to Amos, the team spends all year building up to competitions at the national level. 

“Before the Nationals, we were here for about 14 hours total [per week],” Amos said. “It’s not a one season sport. There’s a lot of work in preparation over the summer to build up our stamina and our strength that also goes into it.”

Junior Haley Wampler describes that from as early as 7 a.m., the team practices, drills and refines their dances to achieve the level of perfection that won the team the national title. 

“During practices, we clean the dance, making sure all of us are doing the same thing on the exact same count, drilling things with counts and with music, just doing them over and over again to get them perfect and right where we want them to be,” Wampler said.

According to sophomore Josie Mason, the team felt intense pressure and stress as the date for nationals grew nearer, but ultimately knew their hard work would pay off.

“Prepping for nationals, especially in the final weeks leading up to it, was really intense,” Mason said. “Along with our usual week day practices, we had several all-day weekend practices and we had to put in work outside of practice. It was chaotic and stressful, but we knew in the end it would be worth it.”

The amount of work the Silver Stars put into their routines was absolutely necessary in the end, as they went head to head with the best dancers in the nation. 

“We had a lot of good competition this year,” Wampler said. “One specific team was Coronado and we went up against them last year and they’re probably our biggest competitor.”

Amos shares Wampler’s sentiments, agreeing that the competition from around the nation were worthy opponents.

“There’s a lot of teams that have good reputations at Nationals,” Amos said. “We know all the hard work that each team puts in, so even if we put our best on the floor, you never know what’s gonna happen because other teams also could put their best on the floor.” 

This is something that we dreamed about when we were on the team and so seeing it happen for them is such a huge accomplishment.

— Assistant coach Sarah Amos

Faced with such talented competition, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the anxiety and stress. According to sophomore Chloe Lancaster, the Silver Stars aren’t immune to the pressure.

“There were times that we got really stressed out and we kind of let our nerves get to us,” Lancaster said. “We just got nervous before we went on and we kind of freaked ourselves out.”

With how common pre-show trepidation is, the team has come up with strategies to help each other through the anxiety. According to Wampler, these strategies did their job.

“I think usually we get really nervous as a team, but one of our goals this year was to channel that nervousness into excitement and focus on how much practicing and preparing we had done going into it,” Wampler said. “That was enough to get us through the performance.”

After rigorous practice, stress and exertion, the Silver Stars pulled through, securing their victory and continuing a winning streak for Mill Valley. According to Mason, the final win was exhilarating after the time and effort the team put into their competition.

“Winning a national title felt so surreal,” Mason said. “Seeing all the hard work and hours of practicing finally pay off was so satisfying.”

While the work and practice certainly contributed, according to Wampler, the team owes its success to the bond that they share.

“I think the teams that maybe aren’t as close or don’t spend as much time together struggle more on nationals,” Wampler said. “But because of our really tight bond, we were successful.”

Amos agrees, expressing her immense pride she feels for the accomplishments her dancers earned.

“I really am just so proud to be their coach,” Amos said. “This is something that we dreamed about when we were on the team and so seeing it happen for them is such a huge accomplishment. I know what it feels like to not win and I know what it feels like to win and no matter what happens, I think they should be so proud of themselves.”

Full results from dance nationals can be found here.

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