SPORTS: Pitbull unites dance team, strengthening bonds and trust


Mia Graske

The Plainfield East dance team puts on a perfomance at the Sep. 8th football game against Oswego East High School.

Dressing up as famous people like Pitbull for themed practices, is one way that the Plainfield East dance team builds a sense of community and reliability.

These factors are essential to the Plainfield East dance team, and are built upon during traditions like team dinners, decorating lockers, and of course themed practices over the summer.

“We do themed practices, ones where we dress up like Adam Sandler, and we had one where we dressed up like Pitbull,” Dancer and sophomore, Lily Hall Risor said.

Traditions like this allow the team to feel comfortable around each other and support one another.

“It’s definitely a community, like if anything happens to anyone on the team I’d be heartbroken. Personally, I know we always have each other’s backs. We don’t judge each other for what we came from or what we’ve done in the past,” said Team captain and senior Samantha Paguia.

The sense of belonging that the dance team has, allows them to learn and draw inspiration from each other.

Risor said, “I’m inspired by the people that are around me, and I feel like if the people around me are working hard, then I feel inspired to work hard too. I feel inspired by my team to do better.”

Not only are the current dancers inspired by each other, but they are also inspired by previous members of the dance team.

Paguia said, “There’ve been people in the past on the team who’ve inspired me, like my sister. She didn’t get to compete her senior year, but she stayed on the team, and I feel like that really showed her dedication. She just was always there for me.”

To commence the friendships between the dancers, the team has traditions each year. These traditions include team dinners, themed practices, and spirit sticks.

Especially pushing the idea of kindness, dancers on the team receive these spirit sticks as a reward for being kind.

Compassion is important for the team, Risor said “I’ve learned that it’s really good to realize that other people have different strengths and opportunities than me, and it’s really eye-opening.” 

The dance team is a chance to learn about leadership as well, Paguia said:

“I think I really grew up to be really frank, like freshman year, I was just a kid. I was deciding if I even wanted to continue with being on the team, but it taught me what leadership is, how to be a good leader, how to challenge those around me,” said Paguia.

The team can also prepare the dancers for the future, when looking to college and beyond.

“I definitely do want to be on a college dance team, and I feel like this really prepares us for that, and for the work ethic we need,” said Risor.

Still, there are more options than just the dance team: “I want to be on a college dance team, and then minor or incorporate dance in my major somehow, like dance kinesiology,” Paguia said.

For the 2022-2023 dance season, there will be two homecoming routines and two competition routines to look forward to.

The dancers also give thanks to their coach. Paguia said, “She does a lot behind the scenes, and she’s very hard-working and organized. The team would not be the same without her.”