Purrfections team wins its first national championship

Auston Gonzalez, Editor in chief

Third place is announced. Then second. The nine girls huddled around each other have no idea what to expect next. Sweaty palms and anxious faces sweep across a room filled with teams as competitors at the national dance event are seconds away from discovering its winner. After what feels like an eternity, an announcement is made, one that is now burned forever into the memories of the Purrfections dancers as they learned they had just become national champions.

“As soon as we found out we won my heart dropped,” junior Bella Stazzone said. “It’s the best feeling ever, knowing all your incredibly hard work paid off. To be honest, at first I was in shock because I was so taken back and proud of the amazing accomplishment my team and I made.”

Stazzone said winning the event exceeded their expectations.

“Going into nationals, our goal was just to place top three because dance team never achieved that honor, so to be placed in first was a huge accomplishment and I couldn’t be more proud of my teammates.”

Senior member Macie Goldfarb said the team was surprised to learn it had won, but performed its best during the event.

“They only announce the top three for each division, so when they announced third and second and it wasn’t us we just assumed that we hadn’t placed,” Goldfarb said. “Then they called us for first and we all went ballistic. I definitely cried and so did almost everyone else. Both of our routines were the best we’ve ever had, choreographically and also just skill level wise. I was really excited to hear that the hard work making the routine perfect paid off.”

Coach April Shaw said competition was especially tough this year. 

“We competed against 10 different teams from California, Utah, South Carolina, Virginia and Miami,” Shaw said. “California and Miami are areas that have extremely strong ballet backgrounds so it’s difficult to compete against them.”

The competition was held March 2 with the award ceremony being held on March 3. The team was able to prepare in several manners.

“We put in a lot of work,” Stazzone said. “It consisted of multiple extra practices, extended practices, conditioning and a lot of team bonding went into play.”

Each team’s routines are time restricted, with scheduled warm-up events and official performances.

“Our dancers have two minutes to perform their best,” Shaw said. “When we get to a competition, we can stretch in the hallway and we can stretch outside, but our only warm-up is six minutes on the floor to get ready to go. Our girls are under a lot of pressure to be perfect in two minutes.”

Stazzone said the team was able to pull through the competition in spite of multiple obstacles.

“We had a lot of setbacks including injuries and sickness,” she said, “so I couldn’t be more proud of my team.”

Assistant coach Stephanie Shaw summed up winning the championship.

“Immediately we are taking pictures, posting on social media, texting [Principal Rick] Fleming that a national championship team deserves a dance room,” she said. “Girls are crying in excitement and joy. I am crying. Thirteen years ago, I was a seventh-grader here and all I wanted was to have a dance team. My mom took over as the coach, and we started with eight girls practicing in the chorus room with not even a thought that one day this team could become champions.”