Last week, the Clearfield High Falcettes impressed the judges at the Miss Dance and Drill Team USA competition in California, walking away with category wins in the military and kick categories, as well as second place in the open category. Not only did they beat six other teams in the large team military category, they danced to a sweepstakes military win, beating all teams in all categories for the high military score.
All year, the Falcettes have been working on changing perceptions of the drill program at Clearfield. With a new coach, new ideas and new costuming, they've been impressing the halftime crowds at Clearfield and they said it was nice to gain recognition outside the school as well.
"It means the world to us," said Lindsey Bonney, one of three captains. "We had been feeling like we're not good enough and when we won those awards at nationals, you could see it in all the girls' faces; they were just so excited."
The Falcettes took seven routines to the competition and competed against schools from California, Texas, Nevada and Minnesota.
Shannon Sellers, another captain, said that after a disappointing placing at region earlier this year, going to California allowed them to be judged without prior bias.
"Well I think the region judges know us as Clearfield, and as soon as they hear Clearfield they judge us differently. In California they don't know anything about us, so they judge us regularly."
The judges were so impressed with Clearfield's military routine that one is nominating it as a top-25 choreographed routine in the nation.
Coach Tracey Crimin said that their wins at the competition and the special nomination were the highlight of the year.
"Clearfield has been on the down slope for the last couple years," said Crimin. "I'm a first-time coach this year, and our goal was to change our image and come back strong. Utah's competitions are very, very tough because Utah's teams are so strong. Going out of state, nobody had seen us in the past and they judged us on that moment. We beat out some really strong teams from California and that was just a huge accomplishment for us this year."
As they announced the awards, Sellers said she got more and more nervous.
"Normally they go backwards from fourth, so when they got to third I was thinking we didn't get anything," she said. "When they said first, they said Utah, and we were the only Utah team there, so we all started screaming and jumping up and down."
Bonney said their military routine was unique and elicited amazement from the crowd.
"The California version of military is very happy and ours is very intense, and I think that everyone could feel that we had pride in our dance. We also have a lot of tricks. The whole crowd just went 'whooo' when we did head stands," she said.
The Falcettes include Kallyn Austin (historian), Sarah Bargar, Hadlee Barlow, Octavia Barlow, Kami Bate (secretary), Bonney, Carley Davis, Morgan Davis, Bailey Gilbert, Kaydee Jensen, Shalee Jones, Jaide Kuhlmann, Jaimee Lake, Jordan Nalder, Stacie Nance (costume manager), Amber Newman, Sellers, Samantha Stratton (co-captain), Tayler Swensen (PR rep), and Carli Wetenkamp. Their assistant coach is Carli Hoffman.
While the competitive season is over, the Falcettes will perform a showcase night on May 6 at the Clearfield High Auditorium, where they will perform the dances that won as well as others.