High School Dance Teams Still ‘Kicking High’ for Season During Pandemic

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PLEASANT HILL, Iowa — It’s football Friday again in Central Iowa. As players are preparing for another battle on the gridiron, other aspects of game night are also trying to make their way through this pandemic, including local dance and drill teams.

The Southeast Polk dance team, the RhythAMetteS, found out there wasn’t enough room for the 60 person squad and their families to be a regular part of game night this season in order to maintain safe social distancing. Still, the RhythAMetteS are trying to make the most of the season they have left.

For the Southeast Polk dance team, they say there’s nothing quite like marching out onto the field in their classic white boots with pom-poms in hand.

“Ever since these girls were little, they have looked up to other girls that have been on the RhythAMetteS that have had the white boots. It’s something that you can’t explain if you’re not in the Southeast Polk District, but they are a tradition,” head coach Marianne Peterson said.

Freshman Ashlee Lamb, for example, has been dreaming of wearing them since she was just five, watching two older sisters on the team.

“Ive been looking forward to football games for a really long time because I see how much fun everyone has every year when I go watch,” Lamb said.

But that moment under the lights is having to get pushed back for Lamb, and her 60’s style footwear is being traded in for the time being with masks.

“Kicking outside, in the sun, and with masks is definitely a challenge to say the least, but you know, it gets us in shape a little more than usual so that’s good,” senior captain Emma Hodges said.

Instead of lining up on yard lines on performance night, the SEP girls are settling for parking spaces.

“We have such a large team that we don’t really fit anywhere to be able to social distance,” Peterson said. “So, practicing in the parking lot when it’s nice really worked.”

With one of the largest dance teams in the metro, the Southeast Polk stadium simply can’t safely fit the team and their families for home games this season. That is a tough pill to swallow, especially for seniors.

“All of us, the team, is trying to really focus on the positives and trying to make the best out of what we have and what we can do,” Hodges said.

“Last year I felt really bad for those seniors because they miss out on so much, and you know I’m starting to realize they still got to have a football season and they still got to have a homecoming,” Peterson said. “I feel bad for these girls [now] because they’re missing out on things that they look forward to their entire lives. Thankfully, our school has come up with a solution.”

Just last week the dance team found out they get one home football game performance. It’s the final one of the season, over a month away. So for now they are practicing their routine, and practicing social distancing, to hopefully see that performance through.

“For these girls it’s so important to be able to do what they love, and so they understand that it’s important to take it seriously. Even though we’re outside, they still are wearing their masks and they’re not complaining because they know in order to have a season, we’re going to have to do what’s right and do what’s recommended,” Peterson said.

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