LSU dance team wins first place for hip hop routine at national competition
BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The LSU Tiger Girls Dance Team secured a first-place title at the 2024 UCA and UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship.
The competition took place from Jan. 12-14 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at The Walt Disney World Resort. College cheerleading and dance teams from all over the country competed to win a national title.
The LSU Tiger Girls was named the winner of Division IA – Hip Hop. Brielle Poche, a fourth-year senior on the team, said she remembered every second of being on stage.
“On our team, we preach not ‘blacking out’ but staying truly present when performing. This allows you to perform at your best and remember the details that we focus on all season. Waiting in anticipation backstage is the only part where I ever feel a nervous energy,” Poche said. “The second LSU gets called and we start walking onto the mat, I feel those nerves go away, and I feel complete confidence and joy. There is no need to be nervous because we are so heavily prepared and well-rehearsed. The fun part is performing, so I really try to push the nervous energy down and use it to my advantage.”
“When we were announced as national champions, I could not even be shocked because it was a true testament of the hard work and dedication that we have put into this routine this year,” Poche said.
Head Coach Kandace Hale said it felt like a dream when they won.
“Dance is hard because results can be based off a matter of opinion. Waiting for the results is extremely nerve-wracking but also exciting. One thing that I love about this competition is that most teams are super supportive of one another,” Hale said. “When we won, we got many congrats and chants even from our competitors. As a coach and mom it makes me happy to see athletes supporting each other because, at the end of the day, we all share the same passion for dance. I’m very much about life lessons and this is super important to our team character and standard.”
Hale said the team usually learns their routine for nationals months before performing them, but choreographers this year taught the routine over a few days before coming back to make changes.
“Our routine was created by Carsen Rowe and Samantha McFadden,” Hale said. “We did have a locking section in the routine choreographed by Nathan Cherry and Giovanni Bortoleto.”
Poche’s favorite part of the routine was the locking section, she said. Cherry and Bortoleto not only taught them how to do it, but why it’s important.
“It was really cool to not only be challenged to step out of my box and learn a new style of dance, but to learn the history of it. It made this section and this routine mean something much more,” Poche said.
Hale said the dance team’s season isn’t over just yet. They still have the basketball and gymnastics seasons. Baseball will also be starting soon.
“What most people may forget is that even though we compete ourselves, we are still dancing and cheering for other sports on campus,” Hale said. “The athletes at LSU are well established and successful so it makes it fun to be part of.”
Winning was never their goal, Poche said. They were just happy to perform.
“We are happy with putting on a show, challenging the category, and inspiring fans around the world,” Poche said. “Hearing we had won our second national championship in three years was something I cannot even explain. I felt so proud. Proud to be on this team. Proud to represent LSU. Proud to fulfill the legacy, and leave one of my own.”