As the GBS Titan Poms say goodbye to Friday Night Lights, they are saying hello to a completely different game: competition season. Unlike their performances at football games, Poms competition season requires more work and intensity. That said, team members say it is a lot of fun.
“There is a lot of anxiety in the air,” Liv Schwallie said, a senior on varsity Poms. “We hire a choreographer, that we all pay for, to come in and make a national routine. We do a lot more training to get us ready and in shape.”
Competition season, which started December 8, consists of six competitions that take place at South and in locations including Chicago, Deerfield, Bloomington, Illinois, and Orlando, Florida. And if that’s not enough, Poms also perform at halftime during the South’s varsity boys basketball home games.
“Competition season is very important to us, but it is equally important to support our sports teams at home,” Julie Smith said, who has been the varsity poms coach at South for 17 years. “Both are essential to our role as spirit leaders in our high school.’
Smith said as competitive as it is, she has faith in her girls. She said this year’s team is incredibly hard working, focused, and hungry, and that they really want to do well. Caroline Szafranski, a junior on the varsity Poms team, who said Coach Smith cares about everyone in the program.
“She does an excellent job of giving every girl a chance to dance and show what they have to offer, “ Szafranski said. “I love how honest she is as a coach, and she fills the team with happiness with her smile and motivation.”
Every year, Poms compete at Nationals in Orlando, Florida for 5 days. This year, it will take place from January 31, to February 4th. The whole team spends their fall and winter season preparing for nationals and their local competitions on the weekends, but nationals is unique.
“Nationals is such a cool experience,” Szafranski said. “ We get to see the most amazing teams in the country, and being with the team away from school is really fun.”
But Poms is more than just dance, team members say they feel like they are all sisters. With team practices, team bonding, and competitions, they are brought closer to a sisterly bond.
“I love the environment with all of the girls,” Szafranski said. “Everyone is so close with everyone, and if you are having a bad day, it is just a great way to go to practice and not think about anything.”
This bond between the girls benefits them later in the season and leading up to the last few practices before they head off to Orlando.
“By Nationals, we are all extremely close, and dance is so much better because we are all comfortable with each other,” Schwallie said.