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The City Journals

Hillcrest drill team takes second at state

Feb 27, 2017 02:08PM ● By Julie Slama

Dancing to Celine Dion’s song, “Power of Love,” Hillcrest High drill team awed the judges and crowd with their dance routine during the state competition. They won the dance category. (Scott Tarbet/Hillcrest High School)

By Julie Slama  | [email protected]
Hillcrest High School’s drill team are proud of their second-place trophy they brought back from the Feb. 4 finals of the state competition.
“We are very excited that we finished second and super positive,” senior Ali Willits said. “We have no regrets. We danced the routines we loved and did our best.”
Hillcrest drill team coach Chelsea Divine said that after the first dance, the school’s military routine with its upbeat feel, the “vibe was good.”
“We felt good about everything,” she said. “Our spacing was flawless. We were clean. Our goal is always to be the best and place first, but I’m very proud of this talented team. The tricky part of this sport is it is subjective and talent runs high that’s why we always have to be precise.”
In 4A, Bountiful High took first place, with Maple Mountain, third and Uintah High, fourth.
Hillcrest took second place in its military dance, first in its dance routine and fourth in kick, using the song
“Money” from the musical “Cabaret,” and the girls were wearing wacky money glasses, hats and T-shirts.
“To be able to dance a military precise routine with difficult stunts, be graceful in a dance routine and then come back with a kick routine from a Broadway show shows our versatility and is extremely hard to do,” Divine said.
Divine said their dance routine was “a stand-out routine.”
“We performed it to Celine Dion’s ‘Power of Love’ and it was beautiful, lyrical and gracious. We felt what love can do and just felt the music and love. It was emotional, impactful and incredible,” she said.
For each routine Hillcrest placed, the team received a plaque. They also received the sportsmanship award, which was voted on by all the teams at the competition.
“That’s big. Our team is talented, but humble, so when other teams are looking up to us and see the positive attitude, our hard work and the respect we give our competitors and voted to give us this award, it speaks a lot about our girls,” she said.
Hillcrest advanced to state by winning region where they placed first in every category. It’s the third year the school has won its regional competition.
“It’s fun when we bond and do our best,” Ali said.
Competitions aren’t the only times the team performs. They took center field during football half-times as well as mid-court during basketball games.
“I really love football half-time shows. It’s a good high school moment,” Ali said.
Ali, who began dancing ballet at age three, learned jazz, hip-hop and other styles of dance at a studio before making the transition to drill team.
“Before we could come at the competition time, find a way to stand out to shine and afterward, be with our families. Now we all get ready together in the dressing room and everything about drill is the opposite. I think it has really helped me grow to a different level,” she said.
Divine said that it unites the girls.
“The team looked at why we do what we do — dress the same, have the same hairstyles, have the same bags, everything. It’s an opportunity for them to bond and grow as a team,” she said.
The week before state, team captains took from the year-long “This is Why” theme to examine and share why they do drill.
Ali, who is a captain and a senior, said it was emotional, but they made a “special connection.”
“It’s been a part of my life these past years and I love the coaches and girls. I especially struggled my second year financially. The team helped with fundraisers and Chelsea let me know that I wouldn’t be left behind,” she said.
Team captain and senior Alyssa Gustafson shared that this year was especially challenging for her coming back to compete after having surgery.
“The hardest were the recovery days, but somehow, the team knew it and was there,” she said. “I learned it was time to get better and stop feeling sorry for myself. I realized that I needed my team more than they needed me. It was a humbling experience. They’re like angels and I love them.”
She said that even though she knew state would be her last competition, it didn’t hit until after the routines were over.
“I felt so much love from this sisterhood that the tears just started pouring. Drill has been a huge part of my life,” Alyssa said.
The team will put on a year-end show at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 21 in the school gym. The show will showcase all the team’s performance numbers. Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door.
“Each girl will get an 8-count solo and captains and seniors will have two counts of 8 to perform. I’m looking forward to dancing military once more. It’s my favorite style and I’ll miss that most,” Ali said.
Hillcrest drill team also plans to travel to New York this spring to not only see some of the tourist sights and 9-11 World Trade Center memorial, but to take a class from the Rockettes in the Broadway Dance Center.
“We’ll go backstage of Radio City and see their costumes and dressing rooms. We’ll also see ‘Aladdin’, which has some incredible dance routines, and ‘Wicked’, which is considered the best musical on Broadway. This will give our girls a chance to learn more about dance,” Divine said.
Alyssa said that she looks forward to helping with next year’s auditions, which will take place Tuesday, March 28 and Thursday, March 30 afterschool.
“We will help teach the choreography and then, after the team is selected, hand them roses and give them advice,” she said.
Next year’s Hillcrest Drill Team will not return to 4A since the Utah High School Activities Association has realigned its regions. Hillcrest will compete in 6A.
“It will bring us new challenges,” Divine said. “State will be really competitive as those teams are incredible.”