Posted 7:30 a.m. Monday, April 18, 2022

The UWL dance team earned a second-place finish in jazz at the NCA & NDA Division III Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida, April 8. Coach Kyle Herberg called it a  rewarding finish to a challenging season.

UWL dance team earns second place at national competition

Building camaraderie. Blowing off steam. Harnessing creative energy. 

For the UWL dance team, dance is about all of that. But it’s also about competing and succeeding at the highest level. 

On April 8, the team showed it could do exactly that, earning a second-place finish in jazz at the NCA & NDA Division III Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Click here to view the performance.) 

“Placing second was truly a huge accomplishment for the team,” says Kyle Herberg, who’s in his first year as coach. “Our team goal in the beginning of the season was to place in the top five. Seeing them come together to achieve second in the nation was incredible.” 

The NCA & NDA Championships were the biggest event of the dance season, as well as a rewarding conclusion to a challenging two years for the team. 

After COVID-19 wiped out the 2020-21 season, Herberg and the rest of the team started from square one during last September’s tryouts. Only the team’s four captains had ever danced together. 

“This team has been very special to me because we were all strangers at the beginning of the year who just loved to dance,” explains Co-Captain Emily Ausloos, a senior psychology major. “We were able to come together and not only place very well at nationals but become lifelong friends.” 

According to Co-Captain Alyssa Johnson, a junior majoring in communication studies, the challenges of building the team from scratch made the finish in Daytona Beach even more meaningful.

The team celebrates after receiving their second-place trophy.

Dance has always been an activity through which Johnson can decompress and find clarity. Her experience in Florida was no exception. 

“The most challenging aspect for me was to always make sure that the team was having fun and still had a love for dance despite all the challenges with injury and sickness throughout the season,” she says. “When we were announced second place, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, and we finally could see all the hard work we had put in pay off.” 

Co-Captain Annie Thurs, a senior majoring in public administration, says the hardest part was overcoming her nerves before the performance. 

“Throughout my 18 years of dance, the moments before going on stage is when I overthink the most — it feels as if I have forgotten the entire dance,” she notes. “There is a great amount of fear beforehand, and when you finally start dancing, all of it goes away.” 

Nerves or not, the team’s performance left a strong impression on the judges, earning national recognition. 

“I was honestly in shock at first,” says Co-Captain Emily Mauch, a senior biochemistry major. “Having our hard work recognized at a national level is unlike anything I have ever experienced, and I will always remember that moment.” 

While the NCA & NDA Championships were the final competitive event for the UWL dance team this season, there is still one more chance to see them perform — at the women’s lacrosse game Thursday, April 28, at UWL. 

When the team convenes again in September, a handful of key seniors will have moved on. But after the success of this season, Herberg believes the team can achieve even more. 

“To see the team perform as well as they did this year was truly amazing,” he says. “As a personal goal, I would like to see the team bring home a national championship title within the next three years.”

The UWL dance team has one more performance this season — at the women’s lacrosse game Thursday, April 28, at UWL.