Education column: Drill team members dancing stars

You’ve seen them in the Macy’s Day Parade, or maybe at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando; dance teams of young ladies executing perfectly synched and choreographed routines, riveting the crowds with their performance.

I had the privilege of speaking with two of our young ladies who achieved “all-American” status and, as a result, traveled to Orlando, Fla., to participate nationally during the Christmas holidays.

In addition to academics, there are a host of extracurricular activities throughout the school district with which students can be involved. One of these is dance, sometimes called “drill teams.” If you’ve haven’t had the opportunity to watch our Wildcadettes perform during an entertainment segment of a football game, you’ve really missed something. The dances performed range from lyrical, novelty routines to more military style steps, both steeped in precision.

We often associate the word, team, with more traditional sports like football, baseball, soccer and such. While effective collaboration is always a key ingredient for successful teamwork, with a dance team it is the critical, essential element. When the tightly synchronized movements of a dance team come together in the perfect spirit of teamwork, it can produce a thrilling experience. A singular difference between a sports team and a dance team lies, perhaps, in the ultimate goal; with sports it’s the capture of a goal or a ball to score, but with dance teams, it’s the actual process that counts; the beauty and aesthetics produced through carefully choreographed and precisely executed movements.

What both teams have in common is hard work. Our Wildcadettes meet mornings at 6:30 a.m. and work until school starts; Tuesday evenings they work from 6:30 to 7:30. During competition (a frequent occurrence) they also work on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until noon.

Listening to senior Julie Garcia, and junior Amber Nelson describing their schedule was exhausting. Both have been dancing on teams since seventh grade, and all of the girls have to maintain a certain grade level average to participate.

Why devote all those extra hours? “We love to dance,” the girls enthusiastically offered. “You have to work hard if you want to be good. Every time we go to competition, we always think afterwards, we should have worked harder.”

That kind of dedication is inspired in great part by their coach, Kym Cordova, who also happens to be an excellent English teacher, with a master’s in curriculum, instruction and assessment, at the CHS Freshman Academy.

Cordova shared, “People never see the effort that goes into performances; the tedious hours, the bruises, the practice, practice, practice. It’s an honor to coach all of these girls!”

It seems to pay off, however, with these two young ladies achieving the prestigious honor of performing with a nationally assembled all-American dance team in front of an audience of about 70,000 during the Capital One Bowl this past Christmas.

A pretty good lesson in dedication and perseverance for all of us.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at