‘Elite 8’ make history at national dance competition in Daytona.

Nathan Miller

There are those who do it for the money and then there are those who do it for pride. Wasburn’s Elite dance team dances for the latter.

After raising more than $1,000 for each of the eight participants and without any university assistance, the dance team’s ‘Elite 8’ traveled to Daytona, Fla., for the National Dance Association Collegiate Nationals. The ‘Elite 8’ recorded the highest prelim score in Washburn history and placed 14th overall in the Division II category.

“It’s an honor to even be invited to go to Nationals, so making it to Finals and being nationally ranked again is the icing on the cake,” said Tara Schroeder, junior. “Overall, we’re satisfied, but we’re very motivated to work even harder and to improve our ranking this year.”

The ‘Elite 8’ is Washburn’s competitive dance team. The Dancing Blues, who perform at half time of football and basketball games, is the spirit-oriented squad, although many of the Dancing Blues are members of the ‘Elite 8’ dance team.

The Dancing Blues receive a scholarship in the fall from the band program, but receive little for their efforts during basketball season. However, the Washburn ‘Elite 8’ dance team, according to Schroeder, receives no financial assistance from the university.

It appeared things were on the rebound for university support last year with a push for a dance major on campus. But such a movement has died. According to Schroeder though, it’s not about finances or recognition, it’s all about Washburn.

“Many girls on the Elite team are also Dancing Blues,” said Schroeder. “It’s all about representing Washburn in a positive way.”

Even though it may be about school pride, the problem is their competitors often do offer scholarships, and can pull in some top dance talent. But Schroeder says that makes their hard work pay off even more.

“Our division is one of the most competitive at the competition,” said Schroeder. “We compete against schools that can offer full ride scholarships to dancers that we can’t, so our hard work is all the more important.”

For those not familiar with the ‘Elite 8’ dance team, don’t be too surprised, as the concept was rather new. Last year was the first year of the ‘Elite 8’ dance team’s existence and, with the conclusion of Nationals, ended its second season. The ‘Elite 8’ are hoping this year’s success will just give more momentum to a third and better-than-ever season.

“Since the Elite squad was a new organization last year, we had a lot of learning to do,” said Schroeder. “Last year’s team set the bar high with continuous hard work and dedication to success. We’re excited to build on our Nationals experience and do even better next year.”

Out of the ‘Elite 8,’ there is a possibility of all but one, four-year competitor Alice Hughes to return. The team will host tryouts toward the end of May for next year’s ‘Elite 8’ dance team.

But for those who may not return, their dream has already come true.

“It’s so exciting to be among the best dancers in the nation and to see what they have to bring to the stage each year,” said Schroeder. “Everyone has worked extremely hard to get there.

“It’s a dream come true for most of us who grew up watching the dance and cheer leading competitions on ESPN. To actually be a part of it is amazing.”