Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Vikettes dance into basketball season

Augustana Vikettes perform their country dance during halftime of the men’s basketball game against Caroll on Saturday December 1, 2018. Vikings won 68-56.

The clock ticks down to zero and the Augustana men’s basketball team heads into the locker room for halftime. Some fans rise and head to the concession stand while most stay in their seats, watching as the Vikettes dance team walks onto the court.
Donning navy and gold uniforms, the group pauses at center court before exploding into their dance routine.
The Augustana Vikettes, this year comprised of 14 members during football season and 18 during basketball season, are Augustana’s official dance team. Performing at halftime of both home football and basketball games, the team engages in various types of dance, including hip-hop, jazz, kickline and poms.
Tryouts for the fall and winter teams are held during Week 1 of the respective terms and are completely independent from one another. Members of the team that perform at football games do not always make the team in November when basketball games begin.
According to first-year student Jordan Bartels, tryouts can be particularly nerve-wracking because they occur twice a year, each time with new judges from the Augustana faculty.
“It was really scary. Because you might be good enough for football, but if you mess up once, the judges don’t know you. They don’t know whether you’ve been on the team or not, so if you mess up at tryouts, you’re done,” Bartels said.
Once the team is chosen, a few members of the group choreograph dances outside of practice time then teach the dances to the other team members. The Vikettes practice four days a week, working to not only learn the dances, but also to improve technique, master new skills and work on synchronization of movements.
Because dance is not formally recognized as a sport at the NCAA Division III level, it is often forgotten about and seen as an activity or club on campus. However, the team practices as often as a sanctioned sport does. Junior Grace Fitzpatrick explained the time commitment involved.
“I have class in the morning, pretty free afternoons, then practice 7-9 four days a week. Then performances at games on Wednesdays and or Sundays, so it can be like six days a week,” Fitzpatrick said.
Senior captain Kaitlyn MacDonald thinks the amount of work and time required makes dance a sport.
“It’s definitely full-time as far as the athleticism required, as far as the time commitment required. People who do it are involved in other things, but it’s their sport here in college,” MacDonald said. “The time, and the athleticism and the endurance, to me there’s no doubt. It’s a sport, whether they recognize it or not.”
Reasons for joining the team vary from member-to-member, but like most athletes’ reasoning for participating is to meet new people. Bartels joined the Vikettes in August and explained how it has improved her college experience.
“The girls are really funny, they make really cool jokes. I’m laughing all the time, and the dancing is pretty cool, too,” Bartels said. “If I can keep making it, I’ll keep sticking with it.”
At the end of halftime, as the Vikettes’ performance ends and the music stops, the girls leave the court and head back to their seats in the crowd for the remainder of the game. The next day, they’ll be in the Carver Center again, learning a brand new routine for the next week’s game.
Photo: Augustana Vikettes perform their country dance during halftime of the men’s basketball game against Caroll on Saturday December 1, 2018. Vikings won 68-56. Photo by Alia McMurray.

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Vikettes dance into basketball season