Getting the crowd involved at sporting events is not always an easy task.
One of the groups that works to achieve crowd enthusiasm and interaction at Appalachian State University is the ASU Elite Dance Team, which performs at home football, basketball and wrestling games and matches. The team has been performing for more than 40 years at Appalachian and were originally known as the Appalettes.
The problem the dance team faces that differs from other spirit teams, including the band and the cheerleading team, is that they are not funded by Appalachian in any way. Instead, the dance team raises its own money in order to perform.
Since the team does not have enough money to hire a coach, a captain and two co-captains are voted on every year. This year’s captains include junior Alaina Brown and co-captains junior Alyson Grant and junior Courtney Dancy. The team currently has 14 members.
Captains have always led the team, but Grant said if the team had the opportunity to hire a coach, it could help them tremendously.
“Students should not have to act as coaches,” Grant said. “Even though we enjoy it, it would be less responsibility, and it would open up the door for us to be able to go to camps and learn more knowledge in dancing that we may not currently have.”
Girls on the dance team currently have no sponsors but work hard during the season and offseason to raise as much money as they can to support the team.
This season, one of the only businesses to donate money was the Daniel Boone Inn, and Brown said not having the higher authority could be the reason for the lack of donations. Most of the money raised has come from family members and friends of the girls on the team.
“It’s hard for businesses to take us seriously since we are students,” Brown said. “If we had a higher authority or coach helping us out to raise money, we may receive a better response from the public since they would feel more comfortable knowing where they money is going.”
“We have done things with local business and had car washes, but we also get money from tryout fees, and the biggest comes from family members, and old studios that are simply making donations for our team which helps us a lot,” Brown said.
Brown said the dance team should be considered an App State athletic or spirit team based on the work they spend practicing and staying in shape. Although they are not required to perform at any events, Grant said the team takes a sense of pride in being at as many events as possible.
“It would be understandable if we couldn’t perform at an event, but we feel a standard has been set that we should follow through with,” Grant said.
The team is required to schedule times to practice at the Varsity gym as well, Brown said, which can lead to problems.
“An adult or trainer must be in attendance when a non athletic team is in varsity gym,” Brown said. “Luckily, this semester we practiced at the same time as the cheerleaders, but we have to be provided with someone who sits with us while in the gym when we are not with another sport team which can be hard.”
Brown said that while it is tough not having a coach, the challenge serves to bring the team together more.
“We take a lot of pride in that every girl on the team is willing to help and make decisions with the captains since they know we don’t have a coach and we are also all students,” Brown said. “We really want the girls to keep a strong bond.”
Freshman dancer Bailee Eurey has now performed through her first season on the ASU Elite Dance Team and said the team has made the most of their situation.
“Our captains have done such a wonderful job of not only being a part of the team, but being in charge of our finances, choreography, and practices,” Eurey said. “They have been excellent role models to each of us and have gone above and beyond this season to try and help our team get sponsored.
Aside from dancing and working to get the team sponsored, the team also prides itself on holding to the same academic standards as the university’s scholarship sports.
“Since we are not recognized as an athletic, the school doesn’t recognize us for our academics, but almost all of our girls have above a 3.25 GPA which is the honor roll for athletics,” Brown said. “The dance team sets the same guidelines as any other athletic team with a minimum of a 2.5 GPA required to stay on the team.”
Eurey said she hopes there will be a day when the team is not only recognized by the university, but also gets an opportunity to travel and compete while donning the black and gold.
“I would expect with our dancing abilities, eventually we would want to be sponsored to travel and compete at tournaments and away games which would help us grow as dancers and as a team,” Eurey said.
Tryouts for spots on next year’s dance team are set for April 11-12.
Story: Jason Huber, Intern Sports Reporter
Photo: File photo