By Andrea Huls
Disappointment. Frustration. Sadness. These words express how members of the college’s dance team felt when they were told they were not going to nationals.
The team, which had qualified, did not get to compete in to the 2007 College Dance Team National Championship because of budgetary reasons surrounding the high cost of the trip.
In a letter written to one of the dancer’s parents, President William Abare Jr. said “approval to participate in the competition was given to the Dance Team sponsors by the Athletic Director on condition that the trip could be accomplished within the team’s annual budget. The team’s budget for the year was $2,500.”
The amount needed to go to the competition was $10,000.
According to Holly Hill, assistant director of College Relations, a report was presented to the President’s Cabinet allowing them to see what the full cost of participating in the competition would be.
However, Ramoutar said the dance team wasn’t requesting the college pay for all of it. In an e-mail to The Gargoyle, Ramoutar explains that the team was able to raise the entrance fee money, and that they just needed money for travel and costumes for the occasion. They did not need $10,000 from the college.
According to Ramoutar, there was a miscommunication. “When there is change and new things going on, sometimes the communication is not clear,” she said. “Some people in decision making positions thought we were asking more than what we were asking for.”
Ramoutar says that it was a very awkward situation for her as she was not the one who presented the information to the cabinet and did not have the opportunity to clarify things.
Timing was another issue. “The time frame was too short and the college probably felt uncomfortable with that. Change creates uncertainty for people,” she said.
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics David Barnett wrote in an e-mail that there wasn’t a miscommunication.
“Their outside competition is not part of our support as far as the budget is concerned,” Barnett said. “We established a budget for this program and the cheerleaders to act as support for our athletic programs.”
According to Barnett it is a great thing that the team qualified for nationals, however, it is not the college’s obligation to fund it.
In the 2006-2007 college catalog the role of the dance team is established as, “an organization that provides students an opportunity to expand their interests and talents in dance. Members perform individually and as a group at college functions, community events and other occasions.” However, according to Ramoutar as well as captains Meghan Daly and Caroline Martin, the dance team has a lot more to offer. They feel they proved this by qualifying in a national competition in their first attempt.
According to Daly and Martin even though it was a difficult situation and they were upset about not going, the team has learned a lot and they have become stronger.
The experience has taught them how to prepare for future years. According to Martin, they plan on doing auditions in March so they can prepare for nationals ahead of time.
“It is discouraging, but you have to try again,” Daly said. According to Martin practices have never stopped. “It is something we love to do, and that betters ourselves,” she said. “I view basketball and soccer as entertainment. However, for them it is not entertainment because they do what they love to do. It is the same for us.”
“There is so much more to the dance team than just entertaining,” Daly said. “We want to have a dance show at the end of the semester so all the dancers can show what they can do.”
As it competes in its first year in the NCAA Div. II, the Flagler College Athletic Department is also going through some changes. According to Abare’s letter, in order to comply with Title IX regulations and fulfill NCAA regulations, the college needs to establish a women’s pitch softball team. The start-up cost of the program will exceed $100,000 and is the department’s main priority.
Barnett points out in his e-mail that if the dance team aspires to go to future competitions they must do fund-raising. “Their experience this year should serve as motivation to prepare for these opportunities in the future,” he said.
Ramoutar remains optimistic. “This is a success story because they won the right to go,” she said.