Starlighters work hard for the thrill of performing
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SEE THE STARLIGHTERS
The Starlighters first performance will be at the St. Joseph Flyer's first home football game against the TMI Panthers.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26
WHERE: Patti Welder Stadium, 902 N. Lauren St.
Whoever said dancing isn't a sport was never a Starlighter.
Long after only a two-week summer break, the St. Joseph High School dance team was in full swing, or kick rather, at its Monday morning practice.
"I don't think people realize how much we work," sophomore Olivia Creager said.
"And how much we put into performing for everyone," Caitlin Jacob added.
Olivia flexed her exposed arm and joked that because of the dance team, she actually had some meat on her.
Again and again, Caitlin led the nine-member squad through the twirls, kicks, jumps and pompom shakes that are part of their soon-to-debut performance to the poppy tune "Hello" by Martin Solveig and Dragonette.
They'd learned the steps a few weeks before at full-day line camps. Over the summer and during the team's three to four practices a week during the school year, the girls condition, building up their muscles with weights, jogging and, of course, running through the routines countless times.
"Last year, the first time we did kick line, my legs felt like Jello," said Caitlin, 15, and this year's first lieutenant.
The Starlighter's coach, Anna Gonzalez Salas, said the commitment it takes to be a Starlighter is well known. Unlike other sports, the dance team's season never ends.
"It's a choice they make knowing they have a lot of hard work ahead of them," she said.
The prestige of being a Starlighter is also well-known among St. Joseph and its feeder school's dance teams, though.
Caitlin, who's been dancing since she could speak, said she remembers wearing her mom's old Victoriadores hat. When the sophomore put on her Starlighter uniform for the first time, she didn't want to take it off.
"I guess I've always wanted to be like her," she said of her mother.
Both Olivia and Caitlin said they attended the squad's kiddie line camp when they were younger and had dreams of one day entertaining the crowds at St. Joseph.
The Starlighters "just looked like role models, and we wanted to be like them when we grew up. Now we're the role models, so it's pretty neat," Olivia said.
Salas said she tries to stress the responsibility that comes with being a Starlighter.
"The girls are trying to be good role models and show them more than the dancing," she said. "They want to be ... good community leaders and just try to give back."
All of the exhausting kicks and hours of practice aren't just for the benefit of the crowd, though. Olivia and Caitlin, admitted opposites who bonded through Starlighters, said they do it for that moment they walk onto the field, under the lights of a stadium full of Flyers fans.
"It's just an incredible feeling. It's your time to dance your heart out," Olivia said.