Save the last dance: Local dance and drill teams fight to compete for championships

Save the last dance: Local dance and drill teams fight to compete for championships
Save the last dance: Local dance and drill teams fight to compete for championships(KPTV)
Updated: Mar. 15, 2020 at 2:47 PM PDT
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STAYTON, Ore. (KPTV) – While high school athletes wait to see if there will be a spring sports season, those basketball and dance teams are left without any shots at chasing a trophy.

FOX 12 was in Stayton on Saturday afternoon as a group of dance and drill coaches and athletes are trying to salvage that one final dance.

Into the unknown: When will school return and will there be a spring sports season if, when they do? It’s already the year of no champions in large school state basketball and the hard-working kids in dance and drill, like the ones at Stayton High School, who were a week away from their final competition.

“It can’t even register in my mind. It breaks my heart and I know it breaks all of our hearts,” said senior Macey Frost.

In these days of social distancing, the Stayton Highlights senior captains gathered together to pick up the pieces.

“I definitely felt my heart shatter into a million pieces,” said senior Kaelyn Hill.

It’s the reality of the finality.

“I think I’ve cried it out. I cried a lot,” said senior Brylie DiGesualdo.

Public health trumps sports, but these athletes just want to press pause until we all know more and eventually get back to normalcy.

“I know that there is another chance for us to go out and get what we deserve,” said senior Ashley Kintz.

Senior Jasmin Johnson said, “I have extreme hope that we will get our moment. It may not be at the Coliseum but just one last moment to dance together.”

Senior Kaitlin Sandall said, “This isn’t the end. We will do anything that it takes because that is all that’s left.”

Longtime Stayton head coach Robin Meier, like her squad, dreamed about ending her 25-year coaching career with the ultimate highlight.

“I’m a senior too because it’s my last one,” Meier said.

There’s no big blue trophy to carry into retirement, but this group is determined to crown some deserving champions somewhere, at some time.

“It can be amazing, it can be a competitive event,” Meier said. “That is what we are pushing for. We want a competitive event. These are athletes, they thrive in that competitive arena. They want their moment to compete.”

The entire dance community is in this together. Meier along with Lake Oswego head coach Hayley DuLong, West Albany’s Haven Barrett and Sue Ann Williams from Clackamas are leading the way to not put away the uniforms just quite yet.

“We have a motto on our team and it’s ‘never settle.’ To me, that is my duty as their coach to always follow through with that myself,” said DuLong.

No solution will be perfect, but anything is better than what they have now.

“Right now, it just feels like it ended since there is no satisfaction with it and I think all of the girls need to have that one last time on the floor and we are going to just keep on fighting until they get that opportunity,” Barrett said.

DuLong said, “I am an optimist, but I am also a realist as well and I know that with the tenacity that our coaches have, whether if the OSAA is involved or not involved, it’s OK. We are going to make sure that we put on something for our dancers.”

So, save the last dance.

“Those of us that do this, and I don’t care what you coach, you are in it because you love it and it’s your passion and it’s your joy but when you don’t have any choices, it’s really difficult,” Williams said. “None of us are saying we shouldn’t be alarmed. That’s not what we are saying. We are just saying, let’s navigate this maybe a little bit differently for 2020 because none of us have done this before but at least give us the chance. I think we owe it to our students instead of just saying it’s over.”

Does crowning a champion really matter in a time like this? It definitely does to all of the dance and drill squads around the state who hope to still have their day in the spotlight.