COAL CITY HIGH School’s nine-member pom squad will compete this weekend in the state’s TEAMDance Championship at the Peoria Civic Center. This is the first time the group has qualified for the state competition. Team members are Abbie Norris, Alyssa Erickson, Amber Petracek, Sidney Platt, Celine Johnson, Stephany Santellano, Sarah Jerz, Carly Murphy and Danielle Crawley.
Coal City High School has its share of state tournament appearances, but this weekend the school's pom squad will go down in the history books as the first group to compete in the state's TEAMDance Championship.
The nine-member squad got the call on Feb. 18 that it had received one of six wild card bids to compete in the pom championships on Sunday, March 3.
Teams qualify for state though regional competition, but the Coal City squad came up one point short of receiving an automatic bid into the state finals.
So when the call came in that the squad had received one of the few wild card bids, the team was naturally excited for the opportunity, according to Michelle Sobieck, the school's winter pom coach.
Wild card bids are handed out to teams that don't receive a placement or automatic bid into the competition, but display a specific, defined level of accomplishment.
The squad is set to appear in front of the judges at 11:25 a.m. Sunday at the Peoria Civic Center's Carver Arena. The group will have just 2:32 to wow the four judges-two scoring on artistic ability and two for technique.
Wearing bright yellow rain coats and boots, the squad members will present the group's weather themed pom dance that is choreographed to a compilation of Let it Snow, It's Raining Men, Umbrella, Chasing the Sun and Walking on the Sun.
In the pom division, poms are used throughout the program and the team has some colorful ones for their state debut.
The group will compete against other Division 1A schools and the judges will be focused on the squad's use of poms including exchanges, effects, tosses and passes. Competitors will also be judged on the musical composition of the performance.
Squad members are: Abbie Norris, Alyssa Erickson, Amber Petracek, Sidney Platt, Celine Johnson, Stephany Santellano, Sarah Jerz, Carly Murphy and Danielle Crawley.
Sobieck said the team practices three times a week throughout the season, more when they get closer to competitions. Leading up to this weekend's competition, squad members are working hard on the technical aspects of their routine, pushing facial expressions and bringing forth a high level of energy.
This is the third consecutive year the squad has competed. So far the group has participated in two TEAMDance competitions and one Illinois High School Association (IHSA) sponsored event. TEAM Dance, a not-for-profit, is recognized by the IHSA and conducts its competitions and programs according to IHSA rules.
Sobieck said the squad has improved with each performance and at one recent competition it beat the second place team by a nine points.
"We have our personal goals to go in and do our best and improve every time and they're doing that by increasing their scores," the coach said.
The TEAMDance championships are open to the public. Admission is $13 for individuals 13 and older and $10 for ages 6 to 12. In addition to pom/dance groups, flag corps will also compete.