CHS Dance and Cheer Teams Stride to Success!

Amazing achievements by these incredible teams.

Carl Harding, Sandscript Author

On February 11th, Chesterton High Schools’s cheer team competed at The National High School Cheerleading Championship (NHSCC) and finished in 7th place. The competition was cutthroat, with over 1,125 teams from 33 different states. To get to Nationals, the CHS cheer team practiced constantly two to three times a week and took first place in the large COED division to qualify for Nationals.  The NHSCC took place in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida at Walt Disney World and is produced by the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UAC). This is the first time in CHS’s history that the cheerleading team has made it to the NHSCC, and the team was the largest COED team in Indiana to get a bid to compete in the Nationals. 

“It is a huge commitment and the young men and women who are a part of our program execute all of those commitments with excellence,” said CHS’s head cheer coach, Tara Graf.  

Many cheer team members had accomplished their biggest dreams by making it to the NHSCC, including team captain Caroline Dardeau. Dardeau has been cheering for many years. She was a three-time state champion in Alabama with her youth team while living there, and making it to nationals was a dream she has had for her teams ever since she was young. At every practice session, Dardeau pushed her team members to do their best, so they could accomplish that dream of making it to the national competition.  

“I felt good, I have personally dreamt of being in nationals since I was five years old. Just being able to accomplish that dream and be on that stage was a big deal for me whether or not our placement was high,” said Dardeau.  

The Sandscript would like to congratulate the cheer team and its members starting with coaches Tara Graf and Calla Dolph. And the cheer members, Caroline Dardeau, Aerianna Wolford, August Lovitz, Aubrey Schilla, Bayli Stills, Bella Walsh, Bobby Spencer, Carman Pappas, Connor Kintzel, Jaden Fields, Jori Hawkins, Jori Higdon, Kai Martern, Kya Trafny, Lauren Koonce, Leonidas (LJ) Manta, Levi Swart, Lexi Brown, Niko Monaco, Walter Smith, and Tate Wilcox. 

In addition to the success of the cheerleading team, another club, the CHS Dance team, also participated in a national competition. From March 3-5, the NDA (National Dance Alliance) Nationals Competition took place, and CHS finished in 8th place for team performance and finished 4th in kick. The competition occurred at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. The 2023 season started with the dance team competing in a novice division and after taking part in one competition, they were moved up to the most competitive division in the state of Indiana. This season witnessed the dance team take second place in the Indiana state finals which propelled them forward to compete at the nationals in Florida. The dance team has existed for only three years here at CHS, and to make it to state runner-up in that amount of time is an accomplishment that is rarely ever achieved in that short period. 

 “The team was imagined by Alumni Ellery Brunt. She had the idea of starting a dance team at the High School while she was a student at the Middle School. As an underclassman, she gathered all the information needed to start a club. Shortly after, COVID hit and students were out of school. In anticipation of school returning to an in-person platform, she kept the ball rolling,” said CHS dance coach, Amity McKiddy regarding the dance team’s origins. 

During their stay in Orlando, the team was allowed to visit Orlando Studios and have some fun at the amusement park before and during the competition. 

Although the dance team has been to the NDA Nationals before, making it to that stage is more than a dream come true for the team, especially for team captain Olivia Clark. Clark has been a part of the dance team since its foundation in late 2020 and she would gain much experience in the team to where she would eventually become captain and lead them. Every week, Clark and the team would practice their dances two to three times for three hours improving on their moves and techniques with Clark pushing them harder every time they met to prepare themselves for what the Nationals would bring their way. Making it back to the NDA Nationals left the team more than happy as all of the hard work they put into their practices throughout the season paid off, and allowed them to compete once more in one of the biggest dance competitions in the US. Finishing in 8th place for team performance and 4th for kick left the team satisfied, especially Clark.

 “ It was great, we were all super excited. We did place better the year before but we had a much more challenging dance this year so it was still exciting to place in the Nationals,” said Clark. 

Sadly, this is Clark’s last year on the CHS dance team as she is graduating this year and is heading to IU (Indiana University) where she has recently been accepted into the dance team; with the skills and techniques she has learned through her years with the team here at CHS, there is no doubt that she will be a successful future dancer on the IU team. The Sandscript would like to congratulate the coaches and the team members of the dance team. Coaches: Amity McKiddy and Krystal Kaszuck, team members: Addie Egan, Adele Megaro, Amelia Kelly, Ashley Bafia, Ashley Lemon, Georgia Peterson, Kaley Wissing, Kennedy Larson, Lindsay Goad, Marley Mayer, Olyvia Clark, Suzanne Adent, Teagan Wheeling, Vanessa Vega, and Zoe Komp. 

Congratulations to both teams and may their next seasons be filled with much success and that they get the rest they truly deserve.