True Love

May 21, 2009
By Megan McConnell BRONZE, Palatine, Illinois
Megan McConnell BRONZE, Palatine, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

In kindergarten I met my first love. It was not an average crush, where I passed love notes for two weeks until I moved onto the next boy in my class. I fell hard and I fell fast, and it was not for a boy. At the early age of six, I fell in love with dancing, and I am proud to say it is the longest crush I have ever had. For the last eleven years, I have spent hundreds of hours at my home away from home, the dance studio. Somewhere along the way, the activity I began when I was a little girl has shaped my personality, and instilled qualities in me that I will have for the rest of my life.

When three thousand people filled the stands to watch my dance team perform at the state competition, my adrenaline started to flow and I felt right at home with the spotlight shining on me. As captain my junior year, I choreographed the kick routine as a theatrical show so that all our movements were controlled by one person on our team, a conductor. The cranking sound of a doll being wound up filled the arena, and I instantly transformed into a life-size puppet. As I hit the moves, I became unconscious as my heart pounded with every beat.

While we performed, there was no trace of fear or defeat on our faces that had reflected the crisis on my squad earlier in the season. Six senior members decided to be selfish and irresponsible by choosing alcohol over their team. After confessing to participating in this illegal behavior, they quit with no notice, leaving our team without a captain. My team’s enthusiasm for the season plummeted. The student body’s confidence in our talent was cut in half. However, I was determined to lead my team past this obstacle and became the new captain. I told them it is better to have eighteen girls with a passion to dance than to have six additional girls who were strictly there to wear the uniform at football games.

At the first practice after the seniors quit, my team’s self-esteem was low. As a leader, I tried to motivate my squad through example. I started to do extra work outside of practice to improve my kicking technique. In my room, I would lie on my bed, take my leg, and extend it until it was touching my face. Then, I would use my bed post to hold it in that position so I could improve my flexibility. My team respected me as a coach because I showed dedication. On weekends, I spent hours trying to make up a creative competition routine. I wanted my team members to like the dance and be excited to perform.

Before the state meet, I drilled the routines into the girls’ heads and constantly encouraged them to work harder. Whenever I critiqued a routine, I pointed out the positive aspects as well because I learned my team was driven by positive feedback. I would shout out names of people who were performing well during the dance, and the girls would respond with even more energy. Through my dance experience, I also found I got better by challenging myself. I incorporated new skills into the routine for state in order to improve my team’s technique. We wanted to prove to ourselves and our school that we could still be an exceptional dance squad without the girls that quit.

In the arena, I felt the energy of my team while we danced in unity to our last kick performance. I was so proud that we were able to rebuild our confidence and exceed our expectations at state. We were rewarded for all our hard work by placing in the top five. This experience taught me a lesson that I’ll never forget; if I have a passion for something, I could overcome any obstacle with creativity, motivation, and determination. No one could ever take away the love and joy I felt from dancing on that special day.

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