New coach takes helm of Wolverine dance team
Their first competition takes place Dec. 3 in Minnewaska.
Wadena-Deer Creek dance team coach Maddi Johnson couldn’t be happier with the group of dancers she has in her first year on the job.
“This group has been a pleasure. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about my experience with them thus far,” Johnson said.
The Wolverines have a total of 20 dancers, with seniors Kendall Godel, Kelly Muckala, and Anna Osberg leading the way for the underclassmen.
“These three have some of the strongest work ethics I have ever seen, and I’ve been around a lot of dancers in my time,” Johnson said
She described Kelly as a “‘force to be reckoned with,” Kendall as a “powerhouse of strength,” and Anna having more of the “soft and gentle side.”
“These three constantly are there to help and be the leader, but also willing to learn new skills and be beginners themselves,” Johnson said.
The girl’s roster is also represented by four sophomores in Payton Breuer, Faith Koning, Isabelle Larson, and Macie Moore.
Lots of girls will be on the dance floor for the first time as well. Freshmen Madyson Beversluis, Danica Pederson, Macy Wynn, and Ava White to name a few.
In her first year coaching, Johnson wants to give her kids life lessons both on and off the floor.
“I want to help develop strong and confident young adults to send out into the world beyond the high school walls,” Johnson said. ”My goals are to translate every lesson from dance practice into a life lesson they'll use beyond there.”
When it comes to dance routines, these girls have the potential to break down walls.
“The amount of potential this group has is unreal, Johnson said. “When I tell you they are hungry to be competitors, that's an understatement. This team is ready to take it to the next level.”
This team’s perseverance is what will allow them to grow over the course of the year.
“These girls are intense, let me tell you. They surprise me every day with their memory retention,” Johnson said. “Seeing the potential in week two, gives me goosebumps every time I think of where we could be in month two.”
To add onto their potential and perseverance, the girl’s have created a bond and even playing field in which every member can flourish.
“Everyone is on the same exact playing field, and we need every single member of the team to be successful,” Johnson said. ”We don't have anyone on the bench ready to have their spot, every member is equally as critical to the routine.
Despite an intense group and a high ceiling, the coach sees one area in need of improvement, including technique training.
The dance team has yet to put their routines to the test this year, with the first competition taking place Dec. 3 in Minnewaska. However, head coach Johnson’s career began at W-DC a decade ago as a top dancer in the region.
“I competed myself at WDC when I was in dance. I was on the Aitkin All Starz dance team from 2011-2016. During my reign there we competed in sections in Wadena,” Johnson said. “I was a captain, choreographer, all state, all conference, all of the things! Dance team is my passion, it's what really drives me.”
With the dance routines beginning in a month, Johnson goes over the rules and what judges are looking for from the teams.
“Routines are judged on a lot of different things. It is 100% team based in the high school dance team world. There are a lot of rules as well, illegal moves, costume regulations, everyone must look the same,” Johnson said.
One of the routines is high kicks, and the girl’s need precision and balance to complete it properly.
“It's your ability to kick your leg to your face, repeatedly, with a straight knee, pointed toe, shoulders back, chin up, smile on your face, arms out strong, strong and straight supporting leg,” Johnson said.
“You're judged on presentation, kick height, kick technique, degree of accuracy, routine effectiveness,” Johnson said. “We can analyze our scores and see areas to work on from there, as well as compare to past competitions and years.”
High kick is one of two techniques used in dance, with Jazz being the second one.
“Jazz is a whole other ball game. This is the one with turns (spins), you're judged on your turn technique, your leap (jump) technique, presentation, degree of accuracy, routine effectiveness,” Johnson said.
With the team prepared and the routines practiced, Johnson looks at the competition this year on the dance floor.
“There's been a lot of programs on the rise the past few years, while other very strong ones have seemed to have a run for their money with the up and comers. I truly believe it's about going back to the basics, what team truly wants it the most, and what themes stand out to the judges.”
The dance team will travel to Minnewaska, Frazee, Pelican Rapids, and Hawley this year to compete.
Johnson takes over for Beth Motschenbacher, who has been a part of the program on and off for 16 years.
“I hope this team makes Beth proud, as this team's success is mostly in honor of all of the years of work she put into them, “ Johnson said.
- Eighth grade: Charli Snyder, Hayden Olson
- Freshman: Madyson Beversluis, Danica Pederson
- Sophomore: Payton Breuer, Faith Koning, Isabelle Larson, Macie Moore
- Senior: Kendall Godel, Kelly Muckala, Anna Osberg