The student newspaper and broadcast of Cedar Park High School

The Wolfpack

The student newspaper and broadcast of Cedar Park High School

The Wolfpack

The student newspaper and broadcast of Cedar Park High School

The Wolfpack

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Do It With Confi-dance

Celebrities Drill Team Faces New Challenges As They Audition for Each Performance
Reciting their creed, the Celebrities drill team prepares to perform at Gupton stadium for the football team on a Friday night. The Celebrities’ creed is their tradition of spending a moment together before every performance. “It’s a tribute to our old director, and we [show our appreciation for her] by praying together that we all perform well for the crowd,” Woodard said. “It’s a way to bring up everyone’s spirits before a performance [so] I think it’s really important that we do it before every routine.” Photo courtesy of Mia Caldwell

As the loud buzz that marks the end of the second quarter is heard throughout the stadium, the Celebrities drill team gathers together right before half time. Anticipating their performance, the team forms a circle to recite their creed. With arms crossed and one leg in, the girls begin mentally preparing for the halftime show.

Throughout the years, the Celebs have danced at football games, pep rallies, competitions and more. In the past the Celebrities only had to audition for special routines, such as dances in their annual Spring Show, but now, these girls face the pressure of trying out for every performance they get to do—including the weekly Friday night football games. 

“The pressure is definitely higher than it was last year,” senior Social Officer Layla Woodard said. “Now having to audition [for] every single routine puts a lot of pressure on the girls and especially the underclassmen because this is the only thing they’ve ever known.”

This school year, the Celebrities team consists of 47 girls, being the biggest team that Cedar Park has ever seen. With a large incoming class, the Celebs decided to hold weekly auditions for the dances they would perform. Celebrities’ director Nikki Evans said that these auditions are not just to see who is best fit for each dance, but also to encourage the girls to continue doing the best they can.

“We were really excited that we did get a lot more [dancers],” Evans said. “This is the biggest team that I’ve ever directed so it requires a lot more attention. When you have more dancers you have to help each dancer grow individually as well as [the] group. We decided to hold auditions for all of our routines to keep them working toward their goals so [the rookies] are not getting stagnant, but also to hold [the] returners accountable so they know that their spot is not guaranteed just because they’re a senior. They still have to work just as hard as our new kids do.”

Sophomore rookie Claire Pribyla said that taking on the challenge of these tryouts is easier than she originally expected, but only because of the attitude and support that the returners brought to the table. 

“There’s a lot of pressure on everyone, but being a rookie is pretty hard because it’s your first year and you’re trying to make an impression,” Pribyla said. “[The upperclassmen] were so welcoming and just so nice [and] it’s all in good fun, even if you don’t make a dance.”

The Celebs are busy all throughout the year, having no off season. Practice starts at 7am everyday and lasts for about two and a half hours. Junior Lieutenant Mia Caldwell said that the pressure of trying out is helpful as it helps keep practice more focused and pushes each dancer to remember every move. 

“We all want to perform together, so it’s a lot of giving helpful corrections to each other and [constant] motivation,” Caldwell said. “People get frustrated when they don’t make it, but then they go in and get help and usually they see a lot of improvement.” 

On top of Celebrities being a double blocked class, officers also have an officer period, meaning that three of their total eight classes revolve around Celebs. Being together with the same people for hours creates indescribable bonds in between these girls. But, these bonds face tests during competition days. 

“Having to compete against the people that I spend every single morning with really puts a lot of unwanted [tension into the team’s atmosphere],” Woodard said. “I was one of the people last year, and last week, who did not make Wabash [which] is our kick routine that we do [annually] and it [made me really upset] because I still had to put my uniform on, put the glitter on my eyes, but then I had to watch my friends perform without me. [Although] I think that’s really motivating because you want to do better the next time you get to perform but it just kind of makes you sad, so it’s just hard to deal with that.”

Although not getting to perform a dance can be upsetting to many of the girls, they’re encouraged to keep their head up and continue to grow. Evans believes that these auditions will prepare her kids to be better in the future and teach them how to strive through difficult times.

“As a director you want all of your kids to be told yes,” Evans said. “But at the end of the day, even if it’s hard for them now, they’re going through something that’s going to make them stronger and better, not just in a school and dance team atmosphere, but also in their lives and in their future. Disappointment is part of life, and we are teaching them how to gracefully accept that and how to turn [rejection] around and make it better next time. It’s rewarding on the flip side when those dancers make the [next] routine [and] see their hard work pay off. They know genuinely [that] they earned this spot.”

After an audition, all the girls receive feedback on what they did well and what they can improve. They also have the option to conference with the directors if they want specifics on what they can do better. While it might seem like these auditions could create an overly competitive environment, the officers as well as the directors have worked diligently to make the girls see tryouts as a positive addition to the team rather than negative.

“I feel like we’re all just happy for each other,” Pribyla said. “If [for instance] my friend made it and I didn’t make it, I’m not going to make her console me, I’m going to be excited for her [because she] totally earned that.”

Sophomore rookie Camila Ecklund said she firmly believes that auditions hardly create tension within the team due to the optimistic outlook the Celebrities have. 

“[The directors] see who works hard and actually knows [the dance], and I don’t like it in the sense that I feel like I have to keep fighting for my spot on the team, [but] at the end of the day, I’m happy for them if they’re in a dance and I’m not,” Ecklund said. “[It shows that] they prepared a lot, [and] we’re all super proud of each other.”

According to Woodard, her and the other Social Officers have started off the year strong with squad parties. The goal is to keep the girls bonded and not let the competition override their chance to make once-in-a-lifetime friendships. By implementing more squad parties, the girls are able to connect on a deeper level than in daily practices. 

“It’s a time for your squad to get to be together outside of the dance environment,” Caldwell said. “These are the people that you get to spend your high school career with and when you realize how much the team means to you, [you become aware that] it’s a fleeting thing. And to see rookies get to come in and start to experience it and realize [that as well] is [a] really special [experience].”

Woodard and Caldwell said that on top of the squad parties they host, that gameday traditions boost the moral of the team. One of these traditions is a creed in which the girls stand in a circle crossing hands and share a moment of prayer together before the game. The Celebrities’ creed has a special place in many of the girls’ hearts, being a tribute to their old director Stacy Danielson. Danielson—or Mrs. D, as many of her students called her—passed in 2018 after a difficult fight with colon cancer. Her memory forever lives on in the program, and continues to elevate the Celebrities’ spirit through the tradition of the creed. 

“It’s a tribute to our old director, and we [show our appreciation for her] by praying together that we all perform well for the crowd,” Woodard said. “It’s a way to bring up everyone’s spirits before a performance [so] I think it’s really important that we do it before every routine.”

Through the meaningful traditions and squad parties that the Celebrities host, the team is closer than ever seen in previous years. Even with the difficulty of connecting while competing, these girls manage to maintain a positive attitude and encourage one another to do the best they can, according to Caldwell. 

“[Our team dynamic] is inclusive,” Caldwell said. “We have so many different ages, so I think it’s interesting to see how we all coexist [with] each other. We want to be around each other and we want to dance together [so] that means we build each other up a lot to better ourselves with the support of each other.”

While the girls are still getting used to the new system of auditioning for each performance, Woodward said they have grasped the concept of how to become best friends with each other and also using the competition to better themselves. The officer team this year has put in a lot of effort toward ensuring that the Celebrities organization as a whole improves, while also keeping the friendship that everyone is so fond of. 

“[If] you made the team, your dreams [came] true and you get to perform with people that you grow so close to,” Woodard said. “But finding out that you have to audition for every single routine you might perform puts a lot of pressure on the girls [which] is why I think it’s so important that there’s a good balance between the bonding of the team and the competition on the team.”

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About the Contributor
Caroline Howard, Reporter
Caroline is a senior and a first year reporter. In addition to being a staff member for the Wolfpack, she is involved in many clubs around CPHS, with her main focus being Timberwolves for the Environment and Spanish Honor Society in which she holds officer positions. She enjoys learning and writing all about people's different perspectives. She hopes to attend the University of Washington next fall to major in Nursing. Some fun facts about Caroline include: her goldendoodle named Luna, her Dr. Pepper addiction, and her love for all music, her favorites being Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar. 

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