Hard work and determination paid off with a 10th straight title win at the week-long OSAA Dance/Drill State Championships last month for the Stayton High School Highlights Dance Team.
“We had an amazing group of girls who had a lot of determination, talent and love for dance,” said Meghan Fields, a four-year member and two-year captain of the dance team. “I believe we were so successful because of the tight bond our team had.”
For Fields and her team members, the climax of the season was hearing their name announced as state champions, she said.
“It is good to know that all our hard work for the past year finally paid off,” she said. “I’m proud to be a part of the Highlights!”
For junior Anna Smith, a three-year member and captain, that coaches Robin Meier and Alyssa Dalke could take 33 14- to 18-year-old girls “that sometimes have had absolutely no dance experience and mold them together physically, mentally and emotionally into a state championship team” was amazing.
“You’d be surprised what 300 practices, faith in yourself, teammates and coaches can do for a season in dance team,” Smith said. “Every memory made with this family I love and will never forget!”
Coach Meier echoed the girls’ emotions, saying, “It feels surreal that we actually did it! To achieve something together that we worked so hard to do gives you such a feeling of accomplishment.”
The winning routine, aptly named “The Seasons of Emotion,” centered on a concept about the seasons: summer – joy, fall – anticipation, winter – fury, and spring – hope.
“It was about what emotion each season portrays and how it makes you feel,” Meier said. “The dancers had to change their faces and body language with each season that changed. It was really hard, but they did a great job.”
Choreographers were Meier, assistant coach Dalke, Lynsey Martin and Ryan Sanford.
Success was borne out of an intense practice schedule of three hours a day, six days a week, Meier said.
“I believe our success comes from their desire to be the very best they can be,” she added. “This team has such heart and passion for what they do. It’s really inspiring to be around them.”
Meier said team members never complain about the tough practices because they know that’s a big part of what it takes to win.
“They are willing to sacrifice for those four minutes on the floor,” she said. “Their work ethic is unmatched. Through injuries, sickness or anything else, they are at practice giving their all every single day.”
Another component for winning is the sense of family the team has, she added.
“My principal told me how impressed he was that we have a team of 33 teenage girls who come together for a common goal with virtually no drama,” Meier said. “Those girls truly love each other, and they support each other. When one is down, the others lift her up, and they know how to put their differences aside and be a ‘team.’”
A highlight for Meier this season was watching her daughters dance together for the last time.
“My oldest is a senior, so this was their last time together on the floor,” she said. “I would also say another great moment was when the team was asked to be a part of the YWCA regional conference in Salem a few weeks ago. It was a great honor to be at that event that honored us as being positive role models for young women.”
The team’s undefeated season was just icing on a very rich cake, she said.
“Taking first place at every competition we went to this season was great!” Meier said.
The girls and their coaches look forward to their end-of-season banquet this month, signaling the official end to their winning year.
“We’ll have tryouts in May, and start all over again,” Meier said. “The girls have already told me how much they will miss it, and can’t wait for it to start all over again!”
Meier thanks Stayton High School and the Stayton community for their support.
“It’s an amazing feat this team has achieved, and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of this community,” she said. “I would like to thank the girls’ families for supporting Alyssa and myself as coaches, and understanding our crazy practice schedule, and all the things we do to make this team what it is. We have the most amazing parent group that is so supportive of the team, coaches and the whole program.”
Meier’s daughter, Lexi, was ecstatic that her senior year and fourth on the team ended on such a winning note.
“There’s nothing like being on that floor dancing and doing what you love,” said Lexi, a two-year captain for the team. Of the win, she added, “This is something I will never forget, and I’m so happy I was able to experience it with my mom and my sister. This team is amazing, and I’m going to miss it so much!”
For more information about the Stayton Highlights, contact Meier at Stayton High School, 503-769-6050.