From sideline to spotlight

Having the unique opportunity to pursue their dreams in college, the Crimson Girls at Washington State University are studying for a degree while dancing.

The ladies take on a variety of dances, including jazz, hip hop and pom. Similar to the cheerleaders, the Crimson Girls strive for cohesion.

“If it’s not as great as it can be, she’s like ‘do it again,’” sophomore Brooke Stoner said about the way Crimson Girls’ Coach Kaila Wallace holds practice. “She keeps making us run it and build up our cardio and have our performance on point so that when we go out in front of the crowd of how many number of thousands of people that we look presentable.”

Wallace is in her first year as head coach and is already making improvements. A WSU graduate and former member of the team, Wallace knows the potential of the Crimson Girls and pushes them to succeed.

“I just want them to be able to touch other people by showcasing their talent and not just looking at WSU Spirit Squad as just something that we do only on the sidelines,” Wallace said. “Of course, we want to cheer our Cougs on to a victory and that’s our job first and foremost always, but I think, too, pushing them to compete and getting their name out there like that because they are a talented group of ladies.”

Unlike other athletic teams who might play several different teams over numerous games, the Crimson Girls have one shot to shine in the world of dance at the College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship from Jan. 15-17.

Most of their practices are focused on being sharp and clean. They aspire for perfection in each movement and hitting their V’s, T’s and Candlesticks.

“You hit a movement and when you hit that move, you don’t rebound,” said Laura Hoffert, co-captain of technique. “Even the littlest extra movements can make the smallest things sloppy. Our coach has eyes like a hawk and she can see everything which is great because it makes us look really good.”

To prepare for this, the Crimson Girls dedicate four hours each Sunday to training for Nationals. They work their way up to practices that run for six hours every day starting around Thanksgiving and continuing through Christmas break.

The Crimson Girls are given less of a holiday break than most students so they can put in the necessary amount of time to train for competition.

Because Nationals comes right after winter break, the ladies spend five days at home for Christmas before they are back in Pullman. Later on, depending on the success of the Cougar basketball teams, the Crimson Girls may miss out on their spring break as well to dance on the court.

“In the end, you are still on break,” said junior McKenna Reis, one of the team’s co-captains. “You are just here with your friends dancing, so it’s not the worst thing in the world.”

The Crimson Girls are committed to each other and to their fellow Cougs.