The 16-time national champion Towson University Dance Team has a new freshman class.
Hailing from various locations around the country, the 13 young dancers join a legacy of champion teams that goes back generations.
“I’m still in shock that I made this team,” admits Maddie Ziolkowski, a business marketing major from Hagerstown, Md., sharing a common sentiment.
As the victors of the National Dance Alliance (NDA) Collegiate National Championship 16 years in a row, the reputation of the Towson Dance Team precedes itself.
“I always knew I wanted to be a part of a great college dance team, and Towson’s caught my eye immediately,” explains Hannah Nabholz, a nursing major from Pottsville, Pa.
“The most compelling aspect that pushed my decision in becoming a Tiger was the beautiful and talented, nationally-winning dance team,” agrees Danie Williamson, a dance education and business entrepreneurship major from Bowie, Md.
But being the best can be daunting in a field that becomes more competitive every year. In addition to talent, dancers must also have strong physical and mental stamina.
The practice schedule, which morphs from intense to grueling in the weeks leading up to nationals, requires a huge commitment in time and energy. The dancers practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as three weekends per month. And this is in addition to their full-time course schedules.
“It isn’t just about having the best dancers,” says longtime coach—and stickler for academics—Tom Cascella. “First and foremost, they’re here to get an education.”
Fortunately, this freshmen class is up to the challenge.
“I’m looking forward to being on a team that works extremely hard and never gives up,” says Devon Dilks of Pittsgrove, N.J.
“The hardest part about being a freshman on the team is we are starting brand new,” says Ziolkowski. “We have to learn how to do everything like the team. It’s completely different from what we’re used to at our studios. But all of the girls and Tom work so hard to make this team the best it can be, and that’s what really separates us from others.”
Will history repeat itself? Either way, it’ll be a fun four years.
“I’m looking forward to dancing at the football and basketball games, and creating friendships with all the girls that will last a lifetime,” says Sara Seaquist, from West Islip, N.Y.