A stellar season for Liberty Drill

Caitlyn Mckinzie, Editorial Board

Most students only get to see a Liberty Drill performance during sports or assemblies, but their season runs longer than that of many other sports. And this season, for the first time in five years, Liberty Drill competed at the USA Dance Nationals competition. 

“Attending the competition is fairly expensive, so we only try to compete once every four years or so,” coach Jennifer Poulson said. “The hope is that everyone on the team will get the chance to go once in their four years here, but COVID messed that up a bit.”

Before heading to California to compete nationally, the team competed four times locally: once at home, once at Kentridge, once at Redmond, and one at Capital. 

“We got a certain score at each local competition, and those scores qualified us for Districts,” senior captain Taylee Klein said. “For both Kick and Military, we placed first. We are the SeaKing District’s champions.”

There are many different categories for certain types of routines. For example, Kick has a lot of dance elements, such as turns, jumps, and associated arm movements.

“Kick is a little easier to explain. When you think of it, think kickline Rockettes,” Klein said. “It’s about being able to do our kicklines in a precise and entertaining way.” 

This year, the Kick performance was the performance drill gave for the Spring Fling assembly.

“Our theme this year was Rio, so it’s based on the movie,” junior Brigitte Potter said. “The choreographer worked with that, and we have more bird-like arm movements and bright costumes.” 

In contrast, Military is a bit more like a combination of dance and cheer, with a side of gymnastics. Inspiration is drawn from true military drill formations, which are a bit stiffer.

“There’s more emphasis on sharp arms and making sure you hit every moment right,” Potter said. “Everyone should be hitting the right angles at the right time, with more stunts and lifts.”

The team was ready to move on to State, which is what they practice for the most during their season. But first, after Districts, came Nationals.

“Nationals is its own separate thing, meaning it’s not affiliated with Districts and State,” Klein said. “A video of our performance is what got us in, and we had it just before we went to State.”

After gathering funds and submitting a video for entry, the team successfully qualified to perform at Nationals. Their videos qualified them once again for the open Kick and open large Military categories.

“I think a lot of us went into it with the mindset that State would be our real challenge and Nationals would be for fun,” Potter said. “It was more of a chance to enjoy our actual dancing and everything instead of worrying about winning.”

While they may not have been set on winning, in both categories the Patriots placed second amongst dozens of teams from other states.

“Despite competing against so many schools from other states, we placed second,” Klein said. “It was amazing to see how good we did, and we got trophies and medals for that.”

During their season, and at Districts and State, the team often competes against the same teams and schools each year. At Nationals, this was different.

“We see a lot of the same teams over and over again. This competition, there were a few teams from Washington, but most of them were from other states,” Poulson said. “It was really cool to see some extremely talented teams we had never seen perform.”

The experience at Nationals gave an opportunity to witness new performers, as well as get to know each other better. The team even went to Disneyland while they were in California.

“Disney was a lot of fun, and we got to spend a lot of time with each other there and in between the actual competition,” Potter said. “That made it even more interesting of an experience.”

Finally, after coming home, the team ended their remarkable season by placing third in Kick and second in Military at State. 

“Last year, we got fourth in Military, so we definitely improved,” Klein said. “And some of the teams that beat us last year, we beat this year. It was really exciting for us because we worked so hard for it.”