Football season in sudden full swing
November 30, 2020
Near the end of September, the team received a message from the coaches saying we were cleared to have a fall football season. This was pretty sudden, and we were all caught off guard. The team went from casually practicing—focusing on technique and occasionally game day materials—to putting our full attention onto games. Quickly, we went from dancing two days a week to four, and we were officially in season.
With a quick turnaround to prepare for our first game, we brought back a halftime dance I did my sophomore year called “Two Step.” All of our halftime routines have names which are based on the songs. I was very excited to bring back this dance, as it was a team favorite two years ago. Those who did not yet know the dance caught on quickly, and soon we had our first dance ready.
The team’s head coach, Billie Sprague, had to shift her expectations for this year. We began our season with intentions to practice harder and approach the year with more intensity. However, that all had to change and now Sprague is focusing on the well being of the girls.
“My expectation is to have fun, do [our] thing and enjoy doing it while we can. We are doing what we do to the best of our ability, under all the guidelines and circumstances,” Sprague reflects.
A new obstacle for everyone came when we had to create formations that were six feet apart. We had to remove our moments of crossings and clumps, but we found creative ways to work around that just fine.
Finally, the night arrived for our first game. Due to the uncertainty of future games, Senior Night was during the first one. Senior Night is typically the last home game of the season. But, because that one ended up getting canceled, I am glad it ended up being the first. On top of that, it was our freshmen’s first ever game. Nerves were high, but our excitement met if not exceeded it.
Senior Night hit differently because it was the first game. When it is the last game, it feels more emotional and brings a sense of nostalgia. It was a little strange having it so early. I also was sad I could not participate in the same traditions, such as walking across the field with my family. However, cheer and dance seniors still got to stand on the field and be announced at halftime, while coaches brought us flowers. Even though Senior Night was not the night I had expected, it still made me feel special and I enjoyed getting some form of it.
It was a little strange dancing without full stands. I missed seeing my friends in pep band as I did sidelines, and getting to dance in front of my peers. I must say, I am very disappointed I never got my chance to do the “do it” cheer as a senior. But, the parents were lovely, and I quickly warmed up to the smaller crowd. I have just been so grateful we have gotten our football season, that I would dance for anyone.
For our second game, we came prepared with a brand new Pom dance by a guest choreographer. This dance was called “TNT.” I was not a part of this dance, as I was out of town the weekend the choreographer came to work with the team. Despite not being in halftime I still loved to cheer on my team as they performed, and they did an amazing job.
Unlike the first game we had a little more time to prepare, so the dance went through hours of cleaning. Most people do not know how much work we put into a minute routine to perfect it. Cleaning is a long process where we go through the dance, count by count. Coaches look at every move, making sure every arm is at the same angle, every body is facing the same way, and every foot is placed correctly. Cleaning is not the most fun—it took us an hour and a half to clean fifteen seconds of TNT. However, it makes a big difference in our dances, and they look so much better after cleaning.
Our next game was against Poudre High School, where we were thrilled to be victorious over a cross-town rivalry. Since it was an away game, we did not perform at halftime. Instead, we stuck to doing our sidelines. These are small dances we can do to pep tunes or music through the team speaker. We use these dances during timeouts and between plays to entertain the spectators. Although small, we have fifteen different sideline dances along with our fight song. It is a lot to remember and keep track of, but typically after a new teammate’s first game they come pretty naturally.
And, just like that, our final game was cancelled. After members on Fossil’s football team tested positive for COVID-19, the game was off. It was a bit relieving as we had been cramming to clean a very complicated dance, but I was disappointed to not get the finale of our season.
Before we knew it, we were back to being stuck in remote learning with only our studio classes and a single practice. Personally it was difficult to make this shift, as I went from dance being the only activity I had left, to barely anything. There was so much uncertainty, but there was a bit of talk about our game against Rocky Mountain High School getting rescheduled. To our excitement, it was on—but the day before Thanksgiving, with no spectators.
My final football game of high school had sun instead of Friday Night Lights and empty stands instead of cheering students. We continued to do sidelines, turning around to face nobody as we danced. It felt weird to not perform, but as I entered French Field that day, I had no intention of dancing for anyone else.
This last game was for me. It is my senior year, and for me this game meant closure. It meant getting to be with my teammates on the field one last time, enjoying each other’s company, and just being present. We finally got to do our halftime “Captain Hook,” which was choreographed by our newest coach. This dance we learned over the summer, and it has been the team’s favorite. We used our dance Instagram to livestream our performance, and we were thrilled with how we did. Hours of cleaning paid off, and our dance looked very together.
Now, we do not know what comes next. We have some sort of competition and basketball seasons ahead of us, but we are not sure when they will be or what they will look like. For now, the team is just trying to dance as much as we can. For us, dance is our escape. It is our one chance to get out and move, and be in community. We will continue to dance as long as it is safe to do so, no matter what the remainder of our season looks like.
When looking back at the season so far, Sprague says “[My proudest moment] honestly is just the team’s resilience. From day one it’s just been let down after letdown. So I’m just proud of the team’s resiliency and being able to roll with the punches and go with the flow; take the stuff that we do get and make the best of it.”
This is Sprague’s third year coaching the team, yet nothing could prepare her for how this year would go. She is constantly on the phone with different directors and studio owners, just fighting to get opportunities for the team to practice. Due to Poudre School District going back to remote learning, the team currently does not have a place to practice outside of the studio classes. She has to take into consideration schedules, COVID-19 guidelines, and weather as she pushes forward with uncertainty.
For the dance team, we are never really done. We continue to practice, learn and get stronger. Even if we cannot perform or compete, we are dancing this year completely for ourselves, and for our team. And for me, in my senior year, I am content with that.