UDA Nationals: An Experience 12 February 2015 Grace Barbic
On Friday, January 30 the JCA dance team was off to Orlando, Florida to be competing in the UDA National Dance Team Championship for the second year in a row. As a junior, I knew what to except and I was very excited to see the competition that my team and I would be up against. Having such a successful season, I was confident that we would give our best and make everyone back at home very proud. The first night in Disney was my favorite night of the weekend. As a team we got to bond before we competed the next day. We spent the evening at Magic Kingdom Park going on rides, watching fireworks and enjoying each other's company. When we returned from the park, we exchanged letters of motivation and reminisced about our season and how far we had come since day one at tryouts.
The following morning I was overwhelmed with excitement and nerves, it was our first day of competing. As we stepped off the bus at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, the feeling in the air was something that is indescribable. We would be competing against teams from all over the world in less than two hours. We warmed up, stretched and then it was off to the practice round. We ran the dance three times to prepare and I was more than ready to get out on stage and show the judges how badly we wanted to be there and how hard we had worked over the year. Before going on stage, my teammates and I did our traditional prayer and that's when the butterflies really started. Walking off the floor and heading backstage, we were all confident in our performance and felt that it was our personal best. After watching the competition that we were up against we all became a little nervous seeing as though only eight teams would advance to the semi-finals out of the sixteen that were in our category.
Awards were beginning and we sat hand in hand waiting anxiously to hear the results. As "Joliet Catholic Academy" rang throughout the room, we jumped up and screamed with excitement and relief. We were advancing to the semi-final round. Saturday night we had the evening to ourselves to relax and prepare for tomorrow's big day. On Sunday morning, we were the first team to be competing. Being an early morning we were up and ready to go by 7:00am. It was a new day, new competition and there was so much more in store for us. Again we stretched and were off to the practice round. We went out on stage and gave it everything we had, leaving it all on the floor with no regrets. Considering we were the first team competing that day, we had no idea what we were up against. The talent was unbelievable. Each new team better than the last. We became speechless and a little worried, but knew that no matter what happened that day we would come home proud for even making it this far.
That afternoon at awards it was to our dismay that we did not advance on to the final round. Regardless, we left knowing that we did our best and that our competition was very tough. I have never been so proud to call myself a member of the JCA dance team and I wouldn't trade my time spent with my girls for anything. We had a very successful season and there is nothing that we love more than performing for our school. I don't think we could have represented Joliet Catholic Academy any better than we did that weekend. It is sad knowing that we are losing two of our teammates, our senior captains Taylor Shetina and Nataly Cardenas, who will graduate this spring. They have taught our team so much and I know that we are going to work very hard to make them just as proud next fall. I could not have asked for a better, more supportive team than the one that we became this year.