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Incoming Picayune dance coach isn’t new to the program

Mandy Feeley’s seven years at the helm of the Picayune Junior Tide of the Pride program will be essential as she takes on a new role as head of Picayune Memorial High School’s Pride of the Tide program.

While Feeley was hired before the closure of schools due to COVID-19, the high school campus shut down before the team was able to have tryouts.

To try and solve that problem Feeley said tryouts for next year’s team will be held virtually.

Mandatory Zoom meetings to vet dancers interested in being part of the team will be held May 5 and May 7.

Candidates only need to take part in one meeting.

Then on May 9 a series of videos depicting a mock tryout and the necessary routines that need to be learned will be uploaded to a specific YouTube channel the athletes can access.

All video entries will need to be sent in by 5 p.m. May 13 so that on May 15 Feeley can announce the dancers who made the cut.

Dancers will need to learn a kick routine, a separate routine lasting a minute and a half including jazz, pom and hip hop aspects, along with showcasing things like toe touches, turns and splits.

“We want it to be fair and make sure all students have a fair opportunity, but at the same time have a team set up. It’s exciting, but at the same time we’re hoping there’s no hiccups,” Feeley said.

Feeley said she wants to try and keep a lot of the Pride of the Tide’s traditions, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t going to be making some changes to how things are run.

One change Feeley is going to be making is the return to having a home camp for the Pride of the Tide.

In recent years the team traveled to away camps for four days where they’d interact with other teams, learn routines and conduct team bonding exercises.

The drawback of an away camp is that it can cost $350 to $400 per dancer, so Feeley is looking to save the program some money by having it at home.

The dancers will still be taught new choreography and go through team bonding activities, but will do it without having to spend as much money.

Another change will be the rescheduling of the team’s spring recital.

Feeley said it was usually scheduled for February or March, but will now be moved to the month of January so the girls can have time to participate in other spring sports, which Feeley said was a missed opportunity previously.

“I want the girls to be part of other things too. I’m all about multisport. They’re in high school and need to experience as much as they can to see what they’re good at,” Feeley said.

Feeley said fundraising is an integral part of the Pride of the Tide and helps pay for things like costumes, props and trips.

However, due to the ongoing pandemic, local businesses the dancers would normally ask for funding will likely be struggling.

Feeley said the pandemic has affected their thought process when it comes to gathering funds, which is another reason why the decision was made to move from an expensive out of town camp to a local camp.

“We’re worried because businesses, they’re going to want to help, but are we going to want to ask?”

“They are the backbone of our small activities,” Feeley said.

Feeley is hoping there aren’t any changes in the date of sporting activities resuming because she and her athletes are ready to get back to work.

“The kids need to get back into a routine and with activity like dance I just want to get them back together and moving. It’s been hard even on the teacher side,” Feeley said.