New era begins for Franklin-Simpson Wildcats' Dance Team

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The 16 girls selected for the 2019-2020 F-S Wildcats' Dance Team consists of :Front Row (left to right): FaSharra Payne, Mackenzie Fleming, Natalie McAbee, Caroline Yates, Katie Bunch and Jillian Sevilla. Middle Row: Eliza Cook, Jacee Cummings, Annie Massey, Bretton Flynn and Taylor Harvey. Back Row: Brea Farmer, Julianna Whitney, Emma Peden, Makenna Delk and

Grayson Groves

The Franklin-Simpson Wildcats' Dance Team is preparing for the upcoming 2019-20 season.

Franklin-Simpson High School alumni Lauren Hall, formerly Ottersbach, and Grace Johnson, formerly Kirby, are the new coaches for the team replacing coaches Lori Bean and Tammy Strain, who coached the team for six years.

Hall, a 2012 graduate of Franklin-Simpson High School and graduated from Western Kentucky University with an education and mathematics degree. She didn't dance for the team in its inaugural season her freshman year in 2008-09 but did dance on the team her other three years. She was a member of the WKU Topperettes Dance Team her junior and senior years. She is currently teaching eighth grade math at Franklin-Simpson Middle School.

Johnson, a 2014 graduate of Franklin-Simpson High School and danced for the dance team all four years. She graduated with an elementary education degree from Western Kentucky University and taught dance at SKYDC.

Both coaches found out through girls that dance at the All-Starz and SKYDC Dance Studios that the coaches were needed for the Wildcats' Dance Team.

"When I found out, I applied for the opening immediately," Johnson said. "I didn't hesitate and it is something that once I found out, I wanted to do this and I thought Lauren and I can work with these girls, who we all know very well and bring a new dynamic to bring out the best in the team."

"Grace messaged me immediately," Lauren Hall said. "I worked at All-Starz Dance Academy for a long time and I knew that if I decide to do this, I would have to quit there. I didn't decide for a while because this is a big commitment from the practices to being at every football and basketball games but I thought that I needed to try this because if I don't, I would look back and wished that I had."

Both coaches feel like their unmatchable experience from dancing and teaching at both dance academies will serve the team well and take the dance team to an even higher level of success. They feel like they can bring interesting new dynamics and styles with girls that can do team tricks like headsprings, techniques and other things that will make them even more successful.

The team held their tryouts a few weeks ago and both coaches were pleased with number of girls that tried out and were selected for this year's team.

"It may have been a little stressful because all the girls were so good," Hall said. "Even the returning dances from last season felt like that they may not be selected to the team. Plus it was a good bonding experience for Grace and myself as we had a tough decision on who made the team."

"Tryouts were a lot of fun, "Johnson said. "I was intrigued to see who was trying out and how they reacted to us as new coaches. It looked like they had fun performing. I like the 18 girls team we selected for the team. We have girls that sre strong in technique but also some that can tumble, some that can do some aerial moves and some hood turners."

The girls selected for this year's team include FaSharra Payne, Mackenzie Fleming, Natalie McAbee, Caroline Yates, Katie Bunch, Jillian Sevilla, Eliza Cook, Jacee Cummings, Annie Massey, Bretton Flynn, Taylor Harvey, Brea Farmer, Julianna Whitney, Emma Peden, Makenna Delk and Grayson Groves.

The team is scheduled to have their first practice sometime in July after both All-Starz and SKYDC finish their summer recitals and the once dead period is over but both coaches are putting together routines to prepare the team for their first actual performance at halftime of the 2019 Franklin-Simpson Wildcats' football home opener against the Greenwood Gators on Aug. 17.

The goal is obviously to be able to qualify for KHSAA and KDCO (Kentucky Dance Coaches Organization) State Competitions to perform against the vest from across the state but the coaches have personal goals of their own they want to achieve.

"I want them to get together and I think that having them get together often and spending as much time together outside of the studio will help," Hall said. "We have eight girls from each studio and I want them to dance to the best of their ability and have fun together."

"I want this team to feel like a family," Johnson said. "They are not just your teammates but they are like your sisters. No barrier between them because they dance for a certain studio but we want them to bring the best out of each other and perform together."

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