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Athletes dance the night away for charity

by Shelby Toth - News Editor
Tue, Apr 24th 2018 10:00 pm
The group, Brenna Dillon, Lexi Layhew, Jessica Koneski, Aren Schwab, Luckas Hofbauer, JustinScheg, Jenna Croce and Kelsey Devine raised money for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The group, Brenna Dillon, Lexi Layhew, Jessica Koneski, Aren Schwab, Luckas Hofbauer, JustinScheg, Jenna Croce and Kelsey Devine raised money for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Students, faculty and family gathered in the Tuttle North Gym on April 18 to watch and cheer on their favorite athletes. But, unlike most nights, the athletes were not gearing up for game time. Instead, athletes from all different sports were busy practicing their dance moves, trying to nail down stunts and twirls in the minutes leading up to their performances.

Dancing with the Athletes is an annual event that brings the Golden Eagles and the dance department together to raise money for charity. This year, the event was able to raise over $1,200 for the charity of the winning team’s choice.

“All the teams had their fair share of trash talk on who would win, but we all knew that the money we raised dancing would go to a good cause,”said Chris Kinsley, an athlete who performed at the event.

Another benefit to Dancing with the Athletes was its ability to bring together different athletes and dancers who may have never interacted otherwise.

“It’s great to pull the athletes in with another department, like the dance department, and have a fun event where everybody can get some laughs and enjoy themselves for a night,” Associate head athletic trainer John Jackson said. Jackson was one of four judges for the event, the others being Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Karey Pine, and assistant dance professors Stevie Oakes and Jennifer Weber.

The event was emceed by masters of ceremony Lauren Bates and Laura Murawski. The duo kept the crowd’s excitement up and helped to explain some of the happenings of the event. They introduced those in attendance to the panel of judges, where Jackson joked he was hoping to “hit the golden buzzer.” 

After that, the point system was explained. Each judge would give the dance a score from one to 10, 10 being the best. All the scores were kept track of on a whiteboard next to the judges, so anyone could see where the teams stood at any given point.

Seven different teams danced in the night’s competition. The teams were California Beach, Beyoncé, 90s Medley, Gangsta: Not Your Momma’s Music Video, Queens, Whip My Hair and Uptown Funk. All of the teams featured multiple athletes from different sports, as well as two dance majors. Almost every sport was represented in the audience as well, cheering on their teammates and friends.

The judges provided feedback throughout the show. These comments ranged from general applause to more specific feedback, more often than not from the professors of Dance.

“I was blown away by the amazing virtiousity and body in [the dance],” Oakes said after Gangsta: Not Your Momma’s Music Video performed.

At intermission, the crowd favorite Brockport Dance team performed. T-shirts were also thrown into the crowd, one by Ellsworth the Eagle himself.

At the end of the competition, the two top teams were supposed to take the stage again and the winner would be decided by audience cheering. However, while first place was Queens with a perfect score, there was a three-way tie for second, between the teams 90s Medley, Gangsta: Not Your Momma’s Music Video and Whip My Hair.

In order to settle the tie, Dancing with the Athletes featured its first ever dance-off. One dance major and one athlete from each of the three teams took to the stage again, in hopes of winning over the judges choice. What started as each team freestyle dancing on their own quickly turned into a stunt competition. Toward the end of the song, everyone on stage started to look a bit awkward, and a member of Whip My Hair went bold and ripped off his shirt.

Whether it was the dancing ability or the confidence of the athlete, Whip My Hair won the dance-off and took the second spot in the final stage of the competition.

At this time, wide receiver Jerry Thompson was brought to the front to decide which team received the loudest cheer. The crowd got two  chances to cheer for their favorite, Queens or Whip My Hair. 

While it was near impossible to tell which team had more support, after the second Whip My Hair cheer, members of the crowd began chanting for Queens. The wave caught on, and only quieted as Thompson began to announce the winner. Based on the cheering and the initial score, he explained, he had to choose Queens as the winner.

Queens was made up of freshmen Michael Coletti and Ethan Stiles of men’s lacrosse, freshman Alex Giordano and sophomore Kinsley of men’s soccer, and sophomore Dee Logory and Bekah Wilkinson of women’s swimming and diving. The team was choreographed by Carissa Bishop and Meghan Mariotti, co-captains of the Brockport Dance Team. 

“What I found most important was how everything we did was for charity, and no matter how nervous or not a dancer you are, you really just went out there and had a lot of fun with the people you met and the crowd,” Giordano said of the event.

The charity the team picked to support was the Headstrong Foundation. The foundation was started by a lacrosse player from Hofstra University, who was diagnosed and later died from cancer. He noticed a lack of support and resources for families going through cancer treatments, and wanted to help the cause.

As mentioned before, the event also allowed athletes from different sports and dancers to all mingle together.

“Personally I never would have talked to these other athletes,” Stiles said. “And meeting them at the beginning was awkward, but by the time of the performance it was like we had been friends for a long time.”

Dancing with the Athletes might not be as well-known as its inspiration, “Dancing with the Stars,” but it’s unique in its ability to bring students, fans, athletes, dancers and more groups together in a fun, light-hearted night of performance and fundraising.