MU
Oak Leaves

October 4, 2019





Spartanettes Hope to Raise Awareness of Team on Campus



Chloe Leckrone

 

The Spartanettes, Manchester’s dance team, is a dedicated and talented group of dancers who often support their fellow athletes during halftimes.

Most recently the Spartanettes performed at Manchester’s first All-Star Game hosted by Black Student Union, but they also dance at home football and basketball games. They generally perform to newer music—Beyoncé, for example. Jayla Sharp, senior art major and co-captain of the Spartanettes, described their style of dance as “a mix between hip-hop and jazz.”

Currently there are eight members of the dance team, though their goal is to have a “bigger and better” team, as Sharp put it. Chynna Miller, senior business major, has been a Spartanette for three years. She was initially drawn to dance after injuring herself during her sophomore year, making her unable to run track that year. The year before Miller joined, the Spartanettes was a super small dance team, according to Sharp. “They performed once or twice a year and not many people knew about it besides upperclassmen,” she said.

When the senior captains graduated, the club seemingly died off. Seeing that she could not run track, Miller, along with Sharp, decided to revamp the team during their sophomore year. Both have been involved with the Spartanettes for three years, and currently serve as co-captains.

Ashly Deleon, junior exercise science major and treasurer of the Spartanettes, decided to join the team last year. “I’ve been dancing forever,” she said. “I’ve been in gymnastics, I’ve been in cheerleading, I’ve been in dance. This sounded fun!”

The team practices three times a week—not including the e-board practice where they choreograph their dances. Rehearsals begin with the team warming up by running outside. Then, the e-board runs choreography or teaches it to the other members when they have new dances to learn. These practices typically last around two hours, while the e-board practice runs for about one to one and a half hours. These hours, added to the time they spend actually performing, come out to around 10 hours a week.

The Spartanettes have run into some issues involving support and funding on campus. While they are considered a club, they believe they do the work of a sports team, and should be recognized as such by the administration. Besides practices, the team performs at events when they get the opportunity and is even expected to recruit incoming first-years. “They want us to behave like a sport, but they don’t treat us like one,” Sharp said. “We buy our own uniforms, we make our own music, we pick out our own uniforms, we choreograph our own dances, make our own schedules and flyers. We do everything.”

Senior business management major and Spartanettes secretary Jaelyn Bell believes that even being recognized as much as other clubs on campus would help tremendously. “I feel like that’s why we’re such a small club,” Bell said. “We’re not really helped or sponsored in ways that other clubs are. Any sponsoring, advertising, anything, we do ourselves.” 

The club is advised by Michael Dixon, but it is almost entirely student led. “If we were recognized as a sport and we had a coach, that would make things so much easier,” Deleon said. As students, the e-board members have many duties other than the Spartanettes. They must be responsible for their classes and jobs, as well as running the club and creating and teaching their choreography all by themselves. A coach, they believe, would take some of the pressure off of them. “If someone was hired to do this, we could focus more on school,” Delon said. 

Many of these grievances involving support, funding, and advertising can be linked to Student Involvement, which handles club activities on campus. “Student Involvement respects and supports all clubs and organizations on campus,” said Samantha Alley, Director of Student Involvement, in response to the Spartanettes’ assertions. “Whether a club wants assistance with getting started, marketing, driving membership, problem solving or executing an event—we are here to help!” As far as being recognized as an official sports team goes, Alley said that Student Involvement “cannot speak on behalf of the Athletics Department,” but suggested that Rick Espeset, Athletics Director, may have more information.  

Whether the Spartanettes are recognized as a sports team or just a club, its members agree that the group is an important addition to Manchester. Because the university does not have a marching band, half-time during football and basketball games can get dull at times. Having a group like the Spartanettes perform can get not only the crowd excited, but also the players. 

Dancing also gives students a chance to boost their confidence and express themselves. “For people who aren’t comfortable with dancing or feel like they can’t dance, the dancing gives them the opportunity to perform,” Miller said. Additionally, the team serves as a creative outlet for students if they do not find themselves drawn to other clubs or sports teams. As Bell said: “even though we aren’t recognized as a team, the Spartanettes get to feel like a team because we work together.”