- Arts & Life
In the fall of 2000, Karen Nelson walked into a meeting for the Quinnipiac Kickline Team. Being a freshman, she was a bit apprehensive. Four years later, Nelson, now president of the team, sounds like a proud parent.
“We have an amazing group of girls,” Nelson said. “They are so determined and so focused.”
Three nights every week, two hours each night, 26 girls meet on the second floor of the Athletic Center to practice their Kick Line routine. The girls stretch for a half hour, work on their kicking technique, then fine tune their choreography.
Each practice begins with a designated teammate leading the group in stretching exercises. The same girl will lead the group in a cool-down at the end of the practice. Joni Reece and Ariane Nievera were designated as the team’s choreographers.
“Using moves from their past dancing experience, they come up with the moves we use in our routine,” Nelson said. “But the whole team contributes ideas as well.”
According to Nelson, the diversity of the team is one of its greatest attributes.
“We have ballerinas, gymnasts, modern, and lyric dancers,” Nelson said. “Each girl has a different background.”
According to Crystal Rodrigues, the team’s Vice President, the girls have a tremendous amount of respect for one another.
“We all care about each other,” Rodrigues said. “Everyone concentrates at practices, and we take it very seriously but at the same time, we joke around and have a lot of fun.”
Rodrigues has danced since she was five years old, participating in tap, jazz, ballet, and a Portugese Folk Lore Dance Group near her home in New York. Her time spent dancing as a youth helped prepare her for the Kick Line Team.
However, Rodrigues did not expect to find such strong connections with her teammates.
“After a tough try out, I was thrilled to make the team. Without it, I would never have made the friends that I’ve made,” Rodrigues said.
Auditions for the Quinnipiac Kick Line last two days and are quite rigorous.
The first day is Clinic – a workshop where the potential candidates learn pieces of the routine.
The second day the girls must perform the dance in front of the 11 Kick Line officers, a daunting task.
“It’s painful to turn people away,” Nelson said.
Last year, there was only one officer that candidates had to impress: Rachel Fass, a Quinnipiac alumni.
The team has adjusted Fass’s departure by electing nearly a dozen officers, creating a strong collective leadership.
Besides Fass’s graduation and the lack of a coach and supervisor, one hurtle the Kick Line Team has had to overcome is becoming a recognized organization by the University.
“We’re going through steps so we can get money for next year,” Nelson said. This being her senior year, Nelson is looking to the future.
In order to be recognized, the girls had to draft a constitution, agree on an official name, and begin negotiating with the appropriate parties (in this case, the Athletic Department and Clubs and Organizations).
“Right now we’re just a bunch of girls who get together and kick,” Nelson said. However, she is determined to become an official organization on campus.
Currently, the 26 girls on the team are forced to spend money out of their own pockets. This money goes towards costumes and entrance fees into competitions.
This past Spring, the team entered a competition in Springfield, Mass. at the Basketball Hall of Fame. They came in first place.
“We practiced every day,” Rodrigues said. “We put so much hard work into it and did the best we could.”
Nelson and the team have turned their unofficial status on campus into a powerful motivating factor.
“Because we’re not yet recognized, we feel we have something to prove to the school,” Nelson said.
The girls are gearing up for their first and biggest show of the year: Midnight Madness.
The Kick Line Team will also be dancing at many of the basketball games this coming season. In addition, they hope to enter more competitions.
“Right now we’re trying to find funding and trying to maintain the already high morale,” Nelson said.
Originally, Nelson was involved in various organizations at Quinnipiac, including the radio station, the theater company, and a community service group.
After being elected President, however, Nelson made the Kick Line her number one priority.
“I am trying to stay motivated and keep up with everyone’s aspirations.”