Free of Bull, Full of Bulldogs


Free of Bull, Full of Bulldogs


Free of Bull, Full of Bulldogs


Staff Profile

RB varsity poms are state-bound

Alyssa Petrucci
Varsity poms team rehearsing one of their dances in the Field House.

RB varsity poms are MSC conference champions for the 2023-2024 season and are headed to the Illinois Drill Team Association (IDTA) state competition. The competitive team is preparing to perform their routine to a panel of judges in Springfield on February 10.

Since October, the team has practiced their jazz sequence and will execute their choreography to “Vogue” by Madonna. Before the state competition, they received feedback from the IDTA and Illinois High School Association (IHSA) during regionals.

“Since we attended those regional competitions prior to conference, at each regional we would get feedback and the next day of practice we would look at that feedback and make changes, try to grow in our routine to make it better. Conference came after our two regionals which was nice timing because we had time to work through some technique and make it even stronger, and I think that’s what helped us at conference with that first place,” said Tia Sherman, head coach of competitive poms and an RB poms Alumna.

At their first competition, the team failed to qualify by less than a point. After regionals at Main East High School and Metea Valley High School, they practiced over winter break and altered the dance to strengthen it.

“Our first competition was a little upsetting. We got a 79.1, so we didn’t qualify by a really little amount. Just figuring out choreography and moving stuff around can be challenging sometimes, but we figured it out, and it’s been a pretty good process,” junior Anna Pinnick said. “We had a practice over winter break to mentally prepare ourselves and get locked in. We had practice before and made some changes… so the judges give us feedback after each competition, so we could change things about the dance, get our timing better.”

Before competition, the team completes hair and makeup alongside strength and conditioning. They prepare early to run their dance one final time before performing for the board of judges.

“Usually, competitions run where there’s so many different schools and a lot of schools compete with multiple dances, and they’re different genres, so the timing and scheduling for everything is crazy, so usually we have to get up really early. I usually wake up for competitions at 5 a.m. because I need to do full hair and makeup, and then we need to be at school by sevenish. We’ll usually start competing at around nine in the morning with warming up and practice gyms, and then we’re usually out of there by four or five,” senior captain Mae Jameson said.

At conference, the RB cheer team joined the poms team. The cheer team performed first and the poms team’s sequence followed. The poms team qualified with an accumulation of 83 points, surpassing the 80-point minimum in the IDTA competition.

“The judges are at the top of the bleachers and they watch the dance from above. I know IHSA writes down notes, and then IDTA, they take voice recordings and notes…and then they hand out packets with feedback,” Pinnick said. “It was really exciting and relieving when we got the qualification. I was really proud of the team and our progress.”

During conference this year, the competition was smaller in comparison to previous years. The RB poms were one of only three teams.

“A lot of other schools in our conference didn’t bring their teams this year, which was strange, but it was really fun because we got to see some of the other teams, and we sat with them and watched each other’s performances. It made it a low-stress environment, which was really a nice change,” Jameson said.

In the past, the team dedicated their afternoons to practice from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. This consistent schedule not only provided ample time to learn new choreography but also allowed for crucial refinement of their routines.

“If it’s for football season or basketball season, we learn choreography for new dances, and then clean it and practice it. Then, for competition, we had the days when we learned the choreography but now we’re mostly on cleaning and changing a few things to make it better,” Pinnick said.

Being in such a tight-knit environment, strong friendships are bound to grow. Growth in friendships also open doors toward growth as an individual.

“Dancing here, especially under our new coaches that we have this year made me realize that I still liked dance, and all the people that I’ve met are my best friends. So, lots of good experiences [and] lots of good people,” Jameson said. “Not only as a dancer, I feel I’ve grown so much as a dancer…what we do here on poms is so different from what you learn in a studio, so I’ve grown as a dancer, technically strength-wise, but I also feel as a leader being on poms…we have a very strong coach, but it’s very much student-led and student-oriented which it really teaches you how to step up and learn to be a leader.”

The creation and execution of a dance is a timely process, and an ongoing project. During the process, altering the moves of the dance can also pose an obstacle.

“Our dances are always kind of a work in progress because there’s always something that could be changed. But to get it even ready to compete, it usually takes maybe two to three months of just straight-through practice with no performing,” Jameson said. “I think probably the hardest thing is when we go back and we change our dance; making more changes for this one than we’ve had for other competitions, so it’s had to untrain your body from doing what you’re used to doing and making it new.”

With the upcoming state competition on the horizon, the team had a trial run at the varsity boys basketball game on January 31, performing under heightened stakes.

“We got a trial run… which was nice for the girls to perform with a little bit of pressure. We’ll have two more practices, and then we’re off, so I think they’re ready. We’re in a really good place,” Sherman said.

For many on the team, this is their first time performing at state, which is where they’ll have the opportunity to immerse themselves and experience a diverse range of routines from all over Illinois, while sharing their dance with others.

“I’m mostly personally just excited to perform there because I didn’t get the opportunity last time… because there’s so many schools around the state and so many dances you get to see and learn from those,” Pinnick said. “It’s really cool to be able to dance as a team and be going for the same goal.”

In the midst of the preparation process, it’s crucial to recognize the exceptional skills and achievements of those involved in bringing these routines to life.

“The biggest challenge is just getting the girls to realize how great they are. They’re so good, and I just keep telling them that all the time and to be confident and just keep working hard, but it’s been such a smooth year, and it’s just been so great, so I don’t know how we’ll top it in future years, but they’re really a great group,” Sherman said.

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About the Contributors
Emma Lopez
Emma Lopez, Story Editor

Emma Lopez is a junior at Riverside Brookfield High School with big dreams in the intersection of technology and ethics. Being one of the few girls and Latinas in her computer science class, Emma is passionate about closing the gender gap in STEM and empowering underrepresented youth through STEM education.

In her free time, she codes, watches rom-coms, listens to Stevie Nicks or Troye Sivan, drinks matcha lattes with oat milk (especially with cinnamon!), and munches on paletas de crema con fresa. She plans to study computer science, and her dream is to work in the cybersecurity field–hopefully in Chicago, or wherever life takes her!

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, you can contact her at [email protected]!

Alyssa Petrucci
Alyssa Petrucci, Staff Reporter

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