Stepping to Nationals

By Xia Headley

After another year of practice, hard work, late nights, and competitions, Tech’s nationally ranked step teams, Lady Dragons and Organized C.H.A.O.S., are preparing for two National competitions this year. The teams are returning to the Nationals in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania this weekend and are going to the Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia next month, a competition they couldn’t attend last year due to a lack of funds.

The captains of both of our steps teams are seniors this year, making these shows the last time they will be representing Tech.

“I don’t think it’s sinking in that I just did my last performance in Tech or that the Nationals coming up will be my last. Right now, I’m not feeling sad or reminiscent about any of the accomplishments and great moments we’ve obtained thus far. But I’m absolutely, positively sure that when this year is over and I’m gone, I’ll miss this so much. Pennsylvania Nationals to me is almost like been there, done that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a challenge, but it’s one that we’ve already taken on so it’s not as exciting. But the pressure and the stakes are high, no one wants to be the team that did worse than the time before. The Lady Dragons have reached so far during past years and I’d hate for this to be the year that slips back. I want to keep pushing and moving forward. Then there’s the Georgia Nationals. We’re all so excited like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t remember the last time the team went to Georgia or if we ever did. To be honest, I’m feeling nervous about the competition in Georgia. I’ve seen a few southern step teams and They. Go. Hard. And with the rare opportunity, it’s like we have to focus less on enjoying the experience and more on trying to leave our mark. We have to work so much harder because this is our last chance. We haven’t really seen any of the step teams and the fashion they step, and we don’t know what the judges are looking for so it’s going to be difficult to work around that. But for Georgia winning or not, I’m just happy we made it,” said Oneila Elias ’16, one of the captains of Lady Dragons.

Aaliyah Thomas ’16, one of the other LD captains shared similar feelings, saying “I feel so accomplished as a senior. In my “memory” posts, most of my statuses were about staying up late and being too overwhelmed with homework. I’m personally feeling eager to get out into the world, balancing classes with work, and having bills to pay, I’m ready for it all. Not everyone gets to attend a specialized school, and I’m getting to graduate from one. As far as nationals, Pennsylvania doesn’t really have me as excited as Georgia does. All the stress and tiredness and hard work we put in through the year makes me feel accomplished that we’re getting to go to Georgia. To be honest, winning nationals would be great and I hope we do, however, whether we win or lose, I’m most proud of the fact that we made it this far.”

Both teams are working pasts the accompanying excitement and stress to meet the challenges of these competitions.

“I’m really excited that we get to go to both of the Nationals this year, but it’s also really stressful because it may be a long time until we get to go to nationals in Georgia again. It feels like we have to place against people we’ve never seen in person before. Going to Harrisburg this year is a whole different set of stresses because we placed 2nd last year so we have to do amazing this year. And even though I’m excited to go to nationals, it feels like this is it; all of this year’s work culminates on Saturday,” said CherryAnn Samuels ’16, another one of the LD captains.

Despite the excitement, the stress, and the challenges, both teams are proud of their accomplishments this year, as they should be. Bryan Belmont ’16, one of the captains of Organized C.H.A.O.S., expressed this sense of accomplishment when he said, “This year has proven far better than my expectations. We’ve taken first place at 5 competitions, getting better with each one and it’s been fun watching this team progress throughout the past year. I’m a little bummed that these last two national competitions are going to be my last times stepping on a stage, but I take solace in the fact that in my last year on this team, I was able to make something special happen and that I leave this team in capable hands for the years to come. Now the only thing left to do is to finish the job. From last year, I know that the National Championship is a daunting experience, but that’s my job as captain, to lead the way without showing signs of doubt. I honestly think we have a shot at winning this Saturday. There are gonna be some top tier teams there, like Ab-Salute, Gentlemen of Vision, and Dem Raider Boyz, but at the end of the day, it boils down to who wants it the most and who’s willing to work for it. I really hope that that’s us.”

Tech’s step teams Organized C.H.A.O.S. and Lady Dragons have shown throughout the year that they have not only the talent but the dedication to succeed, and Nationals is the time to show that winning combination to everyone else.


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