Dancers leap into competition season as ‘unofficial sport’


Paria Karimi

Members of the dance team practice after school on Wednesday, Jan. 4 to prepare for competitions taking place over the coming weeks.

Paria Karimi, Staff Writer

As winter sports teams occupy their weeks with practices and preparation for competitions, Charger Dancers do the same—except they are not considered an “official sport.” 

According to the school website, the dance team is not a seasonal interscholastic sport in Virginia. Instead, the Virginia High School League has always recognized it as a “club sport,” meaning it is financially self-supported by the dancers and their families.

“It’s very annoying because I think that we definitely check the boxes as a school sport,” captain senior Claire Myers said. “We compete against other schools, we’re year-round and we win trophies for the school. But, I mean, there are benefits to that because, for example, since we’re considered a club, we can compete nationally and not just statewide.”

Although lacking state recognition as a sport, the dance team holds practices throughout the year to prepare for games and competitions, and even holds members to commitments outside of school practices. According to Myers, in addition to attending practices on Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and optionally on Thursdays, dancers are required to take supplemental classes outside of CHS to maintain their performance at varsity level.

“I’d say the most challenging part is balancing schoolwork because we go all year so we don’t really get breaks,” Myers said. “Most of us have dance every single day.”

The dance team makes efforts to fund events throughout the year, including competitions. As a non-sponsored club sport, the team holds fundraisers to acquire the finances necessary for participation in yearly events. 

“We’re not a sponsored sport so we have to pay for our uniforms,” freshman Zoe Rowley said.  “We have to pay to get into competitions and for transportation to competitions. That’s why we have to do so many fundraisers.”

Fundraising has taken on many forms for the team, including car washes and bake sales. However, fundraising goes beyond the purpose of supporting finances and encourages involvement in the community. According to the team’s Instagram page, the team hosts Junior Chargers during football season, a workshop that provides children in the community with the opportunity to learn and perform with the dancers at a football game. 

 “I think it’s a really good way of connecting with younger dancers and trying to get them interested in joining the dance team,” Rowley said. “We provide them with snacks and the learning opportunity, and then they buy t-shirts.”

Despite being considered an unofficial sport, the dance team does not fail to make the school’s name known in regional and national competitions. Competition season kicked off immediately after the end of football season in November and will end mid-February when the team goes to Nationals. 

Most of us have dance every single day.

— Claire Myers

According to Myers, the team placed first in jazz and second in pom in the National Dance League in 2020.They also placed first in game day category and third in pom last year in the Winterfest Competition and North Stafford Invitational. Pom refers to the use of pom-poms throughout a routine and jazz mimics 20th-century dance moves combining ballet with jumps and additional tricks.

“For regionals, it’s mainly the same as other sports; we go to a different school and we just compete,” junior Alexis Brunner said. “Nationals is when we go to Florida, and we actually stay the night and spend a couple of days in Disney World.”

The dance team continues to train in hopes of placing in competitions occurring throughout January and February, including the Nationals in Florida. However, maintaining close relationships with each other is just as important to dancers as physical preparation. 

“I would definitely say that we’re very close-knit because we do a lot of team bonding activities,” Brunner said. “We are genuinely like a family.”