Earlier this year the Southern Oregon University Athletic Department announced the return of a team to campus: the Raiderettes, the school’s dance team. Led by Sarah Fultz, a prior cheerleader for the NFL Houston Texans and dancer for the NBA San Antonio Spurs. “I wanted to bring the excitement you see at a Division I sports game to this school,” Fultz explained. “Our goal is to become an NAIA varsity dance team.”
There are big plans set in place for the return of the Raiderettes this year. “We’re starting low, but have the intention of only going up,” said Shayla Mackenize, a freshman and one of two captains for the team. Mackenize continued, “We want to go to nationals.”
Mackenize explained that even though the dancers only have two or three official practices each week, being a Raiderette is a larger time commitment than most would think. Each dancer practices around six hours a week on their own time to perfect the dances.
“They don’t do just what’s required,” Fultz explained. “They go above and beyond.”
According to Coach Fultz, 75 percent of the team members have prior dance experience. Brianna Forsyth, another freshman, and Gianna Cammarota, a senior, both have years of dance experience. Forsyth has been a dancer for 12 years now and specializes in ballet; Cammarota attends ballet camps every summer.
One of the dance team’s upcoming plans includes a collaborative performance with the cheerleaders during halftime at the Homecoming game on Oct. 21. “We’re happy that the cheer team is willing to work with us, and we’re happy to rep SOU with them on the track during games,” Flutz said.
The last time SOU had a dance team was during the years of 2012-2014, though that team was referred to as the “SOU Dance Crew,” said Cammarota, who had been a member of the Dance Crew.
“The Dance Crew felt more like a club,” she explained, “[The Raiderettes] are a little more school spirited this year.” Cammarota described the Raiderettes as “All geared out,” with their uniforms, shoes, backpacks, and more. “Wait until you see our leather pants,” the dancer exclaimed. When the SOU Dance Crew disbanded, Cammarota said having no dance team made her lose her school spirit. “I might even stay here for graduate school, I love this team that much,” she said.
The Raiderettes are holding a second audition on Oct. 29 to bring in new dancers for this year’s basketball season. Any new dancers who land a spot on the team during this second wave can expect to start performing by Dec.