The Warren County High School Pioneerettes dance team has returned from competing in the Universal Dance Association National Dance Competition held at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.
The team is the reigning TSSAA small varsity pom state champions. The Pioneerettes placed 15th in the nation in Small Varsity Hip Hop last year in national competition.
Unfortunately, this year was not the year for the team to bring home a trophy from Orlando. Less than 22 hours before the team departed for competition, they found out one of the juniors could not compete due to a leg injury.
On Sunday, Jan. 27, she tore a hamstring during a performance the team puts on for friends and family prior to competition. She went to the doctor and had tests run and found out Tuesday she could not compete in Florida.
“We performed at the ballgame Tuesday night and we also found our for sure that one of our juniors would not be on the floor at nationals,” said coach Penny Shockley. “We stayed after the ballgame until 10 p.m. or later changing two complete routines that we had practiced since November. Mr. Cassel also allowed us to practice Wednesday afternoon. We are very thankful for that. We changed shapes and changed technical skills.”
The team has two freshmen alternates. One was added to the pom routine and the other was added to the hip hop routine that would be performed in Orlando.
“I am very proud of how the team did considering what they went through less than 22 hours before we left for competition,” said Shockley. “We missed pom semifinals by .4 points which is less than one-half of a point. We went to semifinals in hip hop but we missed hip hop finals by 3 points. It was very close. We also had a freshman and a sophomore competing in knee braces due to injuries and others who were fighting through back and leg injuries.”
The Pioneerettes competed against over 70 hip hop teams and over 80 pom teams in the small varsity category.
“I am very proud. The girls represented Warren County well and generously. They were very supportive of the other teams and their teammates and they did what they had to do. I am a very proud coach,” Shockley said.
Kim McCarter, owner of Studio 413 in Collierville, choreographs the dance routines the Pioneerettes take to nationals. She flew to Orlando for the competition and was able the cheer the girls on. McCarter herself is a former Pioneerette who danced on the University of Memphis dance team, worked for UDA as a head instructor and choreographer, danced at various NBA games and coached a high school team to national championships. McCarter’s niece is now a freshman Pioneerette.
The team is composed of senior Leala Marlin, juniors Rachel Mathis, Leslie Moulton and Sierra Pedigo, sophomores Jarah Anderson, Sabrina Caldwell, Taylor Elgouhary, Catherine Haley, Katie Tubb and Lydia Wilson, and freshmen Eden Fryar, Abby Hutchins, Ally Locke, Shelbie McCormack, Raylee Pack and Courtlyn Sauer.