First year, first place: Steamboat dance team wins at regionals

The Steamboat Springs dance team celebrates its victory in the 4A Pom Regional Championships on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. This is the high school's first year with a dance team and it is taking home hardware in its first-ever competition.
Alexa Struss/Courtesy photo

Performing for the first time ever in competition, the Steamboat Springs dance team traveled to Grand Junction to compete at the Western Colorado Regional Spirit Championships on Saturday, Nov. 19. 

With an incredible performance dancing to a remix of “1, 2 step” by Ciara, the Sailors took home first place in the 4A Pom Division, earning the title of regional champions. 

Head coach Alexa Struss got the team approved in the spring and started working with her athletes at the start of the school year. The team had only practiced together for a few months but Struss wanted to see her dancers take on a more competitive role. 

“We decided to make it more advanced and add a competitive edge for the students on the team that have those more technical skills to compete at a competition,” Struss said. “I knew it would be a great team bonding activity for all of them as well and help them get stronger as a team.”

The competition was full of hip-hop and jazz elements where athletes made many formation changes and hard-hitting movements with poms in hand. Each team only had about two-minutes for a routine. 

The scoring is based on a range of elements that judges will grade. They look out for execution of skills and formations, energy and performance quality, as well as more technical elements like doing pom moves and having strong arms. It’s a point-based system with the highest scoring team winning the event.

Steamboat sophomore Soleil Nelson also competed as an individual in the Leaps and Turns competition, which places a focus on certain skills, and once those skills are executed in the first round, some athletes can advance to the second round for scoring. 

The Steamboat Springs dance team poses with its regional championship trophy inside Grand Junction High School gym on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022.
Alexa Struss/Courtesy photo

Struss said Nelson was pinned against a lot of other very technically advanced athletes but Nelson came out on top with a first-place victory in her first individual high school competition. 

Struss was proud of her athletes for coming together with such little practice and dominating at regionals. 

“We have a great mix of students,” Struss said. “Some are very technically trained and have a lot of dance background. Some of them are a little newer and this is definitely out of their comfort zone, but when they’re all together they blend very nicely.”

The Steamboat Springs dance team poses for a picture at the Western Colorado Regional Spirit Championships in Grand Junction on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022.
Alexa Struss/Courtesy photo

Struss says because the team is still young, she is working to continue the establishment of the program. Because of that, the team will not be competing in another event this year but Struss does not count out the possibility of entering more competitions in the future. 

Above all, Struss is proud of her team and cannot believe what they have accomplished in such little time. She has seen improvement from all of her athletes and credits a lot of that improvement to trust. 

“I’m a new coach and a new person to town and they all trusted me and helped me lead this team in the direction that I want it to go,” Struss said. “Now here we are doing our first competition and winning first place. I couldn’t be more proud. It’s definitely a high accomplishment and I’m excited for all the things we have to look forward to in the future with this team.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.