• 70°

Commodore dance to compete in UDA Nationals after winning first state title

Lafayette hasn’t always had a dance program – in fact, many of the girls on this year’s squad were on the inaugural Commodores team a few years ago when it started back up.

Now, this unit that recently experienced a rebirth is headed to nationals.

“Making it to the UDA Nationals is every high school dancer’s dream,” said Lafayette High School junior Sydney Pace. “At the start of the season, we had a dream of winning state, but none of us really thought it was going to happen. We worked really hard, we had our ups and downs during practice, but that hard work finally paid off.”

After winning the MHSAA Junior Varsity Game Day competition in December, the team will be competing this weekend in the Universal Dance Association national competition in Orlando, Fla. at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World.

For a young team that hasn’t danced together all that long – there’s just one senior on roster – it’s a literal dream come true.

“We haven’t all been together through the last few years, but when we finally went to state, I had the mindset that we could do it,” senior Katlyn Hannaford said. “Now, we’re the first in Lafayette dance history to come home with a state title. For me, being the senior on the team, that brings so much joy and relief.”

The team is coached by Stephanie Neely, who also teaches first grade at Lafayette Elementary School.

The team will hit the road on Thursday to travel down to Orlando and get ready to compete. Competition is this Saturday, Feb. 1. For this group of girls, however, they’re not just satisfied with winning their first state title; the trip to Orlando is a business trip.

“I was on the dance team since the first year it was back at Lafayette. Seeing where the team is now, it brings me tears of joy,” junior Ally Withrow said. “I really think we can win nationals.”