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The City Journals

Hillcrest HD ready to ‘make it count’ this season

Sep 04, 2022 09:54AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

So, you think you can dance?

Hillcrest High’s drill team knows their assistant coach, Carter Williams, can as he took the dance world by storm on the nationally televised program this summer.

But so can the squad fondly called “HD.”

Last season, the 40-girl team placed first and second in three invitational competitions before taking first place in every dance at region to win the championship.

“We had a humongous team, and they were amazing,” head coach Chelsea Divine said. “We absolutely loved it. We had a lot of returners, and we had some amazing new people show up, so we knew it was going to be an awesome year. They did phenomenal at state. They did really deliver amazing performances.”

That included a standing ovation for their show routine which was every girl sporting a black wig and glasses like Edna Mode from Pixar’s “The Incredibles.”

“It was really cool because our girls were very excited about that and felt like people were really appreciating what we were doing this season,” Divine said. “As a team, they accomplished some amazing things. I'm so proud of our girls.”

The team was ranked third in state’s RPI system and had three all-state team members in Molly Underwood, Emily Swain and Emmy Stam. Swain and Morgan Peterson were named to the academic all-state team while Underwood took the EPIC top core and region hero award, and Rachel Black was a Miss Drill Utah top 10 finalist.

After the competition season, HD traveled to see the college cheer and dance teams compete at nationals in Florida.

“It was cool because we have so many connections. We had an HD alum, who was on the Cougarettes with BYU (Brigham Young University) and then Carter, my assistant coach, plus my brother, he's on the UVU (Utah Valley University) dance team and my sister (Erica Williams Jordan, former Huskies assistant) coaches Weber State’s dance team. Being there and seeing it was really eye-opening for a lot of the girls. I know the new team was super inspired by it and it helped them come back with like a lot of energy,” Divine said. “It was fun for them to see these people who grew up in Utah and who are on these teams, practicing and working so hard, accomplishing these huge, amazing goals and doing crazy tricks. It's just good for the girls to see people doing these incredible things and that's my whole goal. I want these girls, whether they dance after high school or not, I want them to be empowered and believe that they can accomplish big things.”

This year’s squad brings in 22 returners from last season along with 10 new members.

“All of those girls were super amped up and excited,” she said, adding that they’ve used their collegiate connections to bring in dancers and coaches to help teach master classes or talk to them about post-high school performing.

After coming off their spring season, where they learned basic technique and some routines, HD participated in a June camp and performed in the recent Midvale Harvest Days parade.

“These girls are so talented. They can learn a routine in a day or two, so then we have a few weeks to clean it and get it ready,” Divine said. “The difficulty in the routines has risen over the last few years. This year, the girls are really doing some cool things. Our goal is to do a full team right aerials, back handsprings and front aerials. It’s all about their flexibility and their turns; we really are pushing turns this season. We want to advance their ability and skill level to turn for a longer period of time and change direction. It takes a lot of body control and when they have it down, it’s impressive.”

Now, HD is performing at football games and this winter, basketball games, as they gear up for the competitive season. This season, the state routines are military, dance and show.

“Hip hop will be something we do at football or perform at an invitational routine,” she added. “It’s more school-spirited. I’m super excited because we’re getting new pom uniforms this year. We don’t compete pom, but I love we train our girls to do pom and build school spirit. We’ve been using the same uniforms for seven years now, but we designed this year’s uniforms. We have the Husky on them and the school colors. They’re going to look amazing.”

On the field or floor, HD is planning for every minute to “make it count,” matching their drill team theme.

“Our captains (Emmy Stam, Rachel Black, Sage Christensen and Kaylee Taylor) came up with that and it’s super motivating. The idea is for every practice, every performance and every rep to ‘make it count’ and in the long run, it matters, and the work is worth it,” Divine said. “We’re just starting the new season and running with the momentum that we built last year.”