Local dance and cheer programs hindered by pandemic

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 6, 2020

School closures around the county due to COVID-19 forced local dance and cheer programs to figure out the best way to proceed.

Times are uncertain and the future is unknown, but the programs and people who lead them are doing what they can to move forward.

Poplarville Cheer

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If schools were still open the Poplarville Lady Hornet Cheerleaders would be taking part in practice two to three times a week in preparation for their summer camp.

Instead the athletes are at home, but they’re making the most of their time.

The team is using social media to stay in touch and Zoom workouts to stay in shape, while also engaging in some lighthearted, virtual team bonding.

“I try to do fun things they can do together. This week’s challenge was a lip sync challenge, and since everybody was home they could include whoever is at the house,” Cheer Coach Rebecca Mayfield said.

Luckily enough the 20-person roster has already been set since the team held tryouts prior to schools closing.

There won’t be a mad dash when athletic activities resume to put together a team because it’s already been formed, so instead the athletes will continue to prioritize working out and perfecting new routines.

That will be especially important for new members of the group since they haven’t competed at the highest level.

“All of our girls who are new do work really hard to get involved and learn new stuff. They’re constantly asking to send in new videos (of routines) because they are at a disadvantage since they can’t practice every day,” junior Kat Adcox said.

However, even with all the uncertainty surrounding the future because of the pandemic, Mayfield is holding out hope that the upcoming school year will be a good one.

“I do think this is going to be a really good year. I think this will be the best year (for us) and I’m saying that because everyone has grown so much closer,” Mayfield said.

Pearl River Central Dance

The Pearl River Central Dance program didn’t have a chance to get in their tryouts prior to school closures.

This has left Coach Sadie Penton wondering what step to take next.

June 1 is currently when the MHSAA will allow athletic activities to resume.

However, that date doesn’t mean much to Penton because even at that point she’d have to wait for her dancers to get physicals and go through the tryout process.

Penton said the district hasn’t allowed her to go forward with hosting virtual tryouts, and so she’s left to wait and see how things will pan out.

“We’re just basically waiting. If we had virtual tryouts we could start and go (on June 1),” Penton said.

To try and keep interest in the team up, and give returning dancers something to work on, Penton said she created several videos detailing routines and helpful exercises to be practiced at home.

Usage of social media and the app Band has allowed everyone in the program to stay in touch, while also getting out information regarding potential next steps.

“I have a tryout application on there and was able to put that out there. We have an Instagram page and that’s how I get information out. There’s no other way other than social media right now,” Penton said.

June is usually the month the dancers attend an away camp to bond as a team and learn some new routines and skills.

However, the whole process of that venture is up in the air currently with camps across the country being cancelled or waiting to be rescheduled. “It’s really more about bonding experience and the fact that we come away truly a team. It’s expensive, but that experience is invaluable just for the girls to connect on a deeper level,” Penton said.