Rock Canyon High School poms bring home the state title
By Celeste McNeil; photos courtesy of Christina Leone
Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) poms dance team recently won the 5A State Championship, bringing the first poms state title to RCHS since 2009. It is the first schoolwide state title since 2016.
Poms, a school spirit squad focused on dance, serves an important role within the athletic department, as well as functioning as a team in their own right. They perform on the sideline and at halftime, generating school spirit at sporting events like football, basketball, volleyball and soccer games. They also support other school and community events throughout the year, including homecoming and hosting dance camps, in addition to state, regional, and national poms competitions.
RCHS varsity poms has 15 girls on the roster and another 21 members between JV and C-team. The official poms season runs August through March, but with training and summer camps, the girls essentially practice all year. Tryouts usually last for a week each spring. Evaluations focus on “dance technique, performance, stamina, strength and the ability to learn choreography,” stated head coach Christina Leone.
There are several categories each dance team can compete in. The RCHS program focuses on Pom, Jazz and Game-Day and participates in those categories in regionals and nationals. State competition is limited to one category; RCHS competed in 5A Pom this year.
Competition is tough for our lady Jags. Coach Leone explained, “5A Pom in our state is fiercely competitive and it’s such an amazing opportunity to compete against not only the best in the state, but some of the best in the nation right here at home!”
Leone is no stranger to coaching or competition. She has coached poms in Douglas County for nearly two decades, most of that time at RCHS. “After years of coaching, I have a very clear image of how the state championship typically looks and feels,” said Leone. But state competitions were a little different this year. Due to computer malfunctions, no team knew their ranking between the preliminary and final rounds. “When it was time to announce the final results, it was such an element of surprise and suspense.”
When the final results were announced, the RCHS team and coaches were understandably ecstatic. Even weeks later, the state victory is still sinking in. “It still feels very surreal,” said Bella Wheeler, RCHS junior. Wheeler was not able to dance during the state competition due to an injury earlier in the season, but she was on the sidelines cheering her teammates on. The entire team pulled together and worked hard despite injuries, quarantines, and continual changes throughout the season. Many of the upperclassmen were part of the team who took second last year. They fought harder for the title this year.
“All of us worked hard for this title. We’ve really pushed and fought for the title and can’t be happier to bring it back for Canyon,” said Wheeler.