CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Nearly a month after they brought home numerous wins from an international dance competition in Orlando, Fla., the Cleveland Middle School dance team is still in high spirits.
"We were very surprised. We didn't know if we were going to get first or what," said Allyson Kimball, one of the captains. "We were all kind of holding each other's hand and just hoping, and when they announced it, we all just kind of jumped up and screamed because we had been working so hard and we were just so excited to get it."
The sixth grade along with the seventh- and eighth-grade Lady Raiderettes brought back four firsts and one second-place finish.
"We went last year, and we did place and we placed high, but we did not win," Coach Kelly Owens said. "So all year our motivation has been (that) we want to go back and we want to win, and we want to bring home a (champion) jacket, and we did.
"I told them, 'They're not going to hand it to you. You have to take it," Ms. Owens said.
The sixth grade came in first in Youth Pom and second in hip-hop while the seventh- and eighth-grade dance team came in first in Junior High Jazz, Junior High Hip-Hop and Junior High Pom.
Dance season is over but the girls keep raking in the praise.
Mayor Tom Rowland presented them a commendation at a recent Cleveland City Council meeting. They also were presented on the radio at WCLE Mix 104.
"Our goal is to train these girls to become professional dancers. That's the ultimate goal," said Will Linder, a team choreographer.
Mr. Linder and his partner, Jasmine Horn, worked with the girls and helped them perfect their winning routine. Ms. Owens' strength lies in ballet, Ms. Horn helps with the team's hip-hop moves and Mr. Linder brings a combination of both hip-hop and jazz.
"Our strengths come together and really help clean the girls' routine up," Ms. Owens said.
Alijah Porter, the team's other captain, said the group brought more routines and was more prepared for the competition this year at Disney World.
"(The team) is going to go very far," she said. "Especially after this year, they have a high reputation now, so they'll do well."