St. John’s dance team wins first National Title


Photo: Christine McCarton

Crystal Simmons, Staff Writer

The Johnnies danced their way to a National Championship at the two-day competition on Jan. 16 and 17. The team competed against tough Division I teams from across the country. In previous years, they have placed second, third, fourth and fifth. This was their first championship win in program history at the UCA and UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship. Previously, they had received second place in 2011 but transcended this when they took first place in the Hip-Hop category this year.

Since July, the dance team has been tirelessly working to perfect their routine. There are six seniors on the team who were able to guide the younger members of the team. According to coach Christine McCarton, the seniors really made an effort to help the freshman understand what they were getting into so that when they got there they were not completely taken aback by the whole production. She said that the girls were not nervous at all.

Sophomore captain Amanda Spang said that this year’s team came into the season wanting to win even more than last year. They worked every single day towards this goal. Spang, along with the other captains, senior Kristen Greto and senior Amy Cork, helped to boost the team’s morale throughout this season leading up to their win at Nationals.  “Constantly keeping a positive attitude when we got frustrated or couldn’t get a certain trick or step, everyone was there to help each other, and I think that’s what really helped us this year,” Greto said.  The captains did not once let the team have a negative attitude. “Staying positive and motivating the whole team be positive and work together is really one of the biggest roles as a captain,” mentioned Cork.

McCarton, who has been with the program for fourteen years, has watched the team grow. She has been to the national competition with this team every year and has experienced the intensity and the anxiety that comes with performing against Division I teams. “We kind of knew that this year going in that this was probably the best shot we have had to win and it just feels really amazing,” said coach McCarton. “I am so proud of the team and they have worked so hard this whole time.” According to coach McCarton, this year’s team was more confident in the routine and really worked on it when they returned after Christmas. “I said to the girls, ‘If your really think you can win, I need you to give one- hundred-and-fifty percent effort this entire time.’ And, they did, which is part of the reason I think we were successful.”

The teams’ dynamic work ethic proved evident throughout the season and there were many times when they felt defeated and bruised. However, their message of a positive mindset and a teamwork philosophy was able to earn them their first national win and make program history. “It was just an amazing feeling and the looks on their faces is something I’ll never forget,” coach McCarton said.

Currently, the team is focusing on basketball season with the many games coming up and are hopeful to travel for the Big East and NCAA tournaments. As for nationals next year, Coach McCarton says that there are some skills she would like to see the team progress in.