What It Takes To Be A Pommer

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Annie Burdiak

The Lake Forest High School Varsity Dance Team holds an incredible reputation at the school and nationwide, but their relentless training and devotion to the sport is what gets them there.

Even though those trying out are only evaluated on their performance for three long days of grueling tryouts, each dancer has gone through years and years of preparation for the moment they are announced to be a part of the dance team.

Once the season starts, the challenging training and practices don’t cease. On an average day of practice, the dance team splits their time between high intensity workouts and perfecting their routines for football games or upcoming competitions.

For example, senior and captain of the Varsity Dance Team, Ben Reinkemeyer brought up a key activity that the team does in practice to combine their physical fitness and dancing technique called “run-jog-run.”

During this portion of their practice, the team runs through their dance. Directly after that, they continue to play the music, but run around the studio and individually practice the parts of the dance they think that they need to work on while running. Lastly, the team runs through the dance one last time before they stretch and end practice for the day.

Senior and captain Kellie Jean Camardo remarked that it is by far the most rewarding yet exhausting activity that they do in practice.

Although physical fitness is a key component of success on the dance team, each member mentally and fully commits to the necessary positive mindset. Without it, that national title they want so badly becomes next to impossible to reach.

“No one is sitting on the bench on our team. We don’t have any alternates. Everyone is out there one million percent of the time and you can’t really hide anywhere or cover anything up, so everyone has to give their all,” Reinkemeyer said.

This powerful mindset that all of the members have adopted is not only used for self-motivation, but to motivate their teammates around them.

“We really push our teammates and we don’t accept anything less than their best,” Reinkemeyer said.

However, this mental and physical commitment that every member of the team puts forth is sometimes overlooked or brushed off by those who think that dancing isn’t as hard as other sports or isn’t a sport at all.

Camardo said that the most anyone really sees is the two minute finished product, but what people don’t see is the nine hour practices the team has on the weekends to make sure that their dances are perfect. Or the hours that the members spend watching videos of other dance teams, constantly looking for ways to improve their own routines.

“They don’t know how hard we work because people don’t understand it, so they try to tear it down,” Reinkemeyer said when discussing how dance as a sport and the work that goes in is sometimes overlooked.

This team that made it to nationals is not just another sports team, “It’s a lifestyle and it becomes a part of you and your life in the best way possible,” junior and returning varsity member of the LFDT Lilia Simeck said.  

“It takes a lot of willpower to keep pushing because so many times during a workout you want to quit,” Reinkemeyer said when asked what it takes to be a part of the LFDT.

Simeck said that it takes the ability “to put your personal goal aside and focus on the team goal because it’s a very unselfish sport and because you are working as one to push your team over the limit instead of one single person trying to be the best.”

Lastly, and most emphasized, Camardo said that dedication and sacrifice is really what it takes to be a part of the dance team: “Dedication outside of practice and thinking about what you need to do for the team,” she said is crucial.

“The willpower of being with the team 24/7 and sacrificing everything so you can be as successful as this team is,” Camardo said is what it truly takes to be a pommer.