By Lisa Coffey
Two years ago, the Laker Dance team had a new coach and a first-time-ever, full, paid bid to represent Russell County at a national competition.
Three days before they were to leave, COVID slammed the door on an awesome opportunity.
“Everything was shut down,” Coach Amanda Turner said. “This meant no competition, no Nationals, and it meant heartbreak for the Laker Dance team.”
The “up and down roller coaster” of the 2020-2021 season made it impossible for the dance team to compete and practice safely, so they sat the season out.
But the door has opened again…
The Laker Dance team recently competed at the regional level in Corbin, and again in Jeffersonville, IN.
The talented team of athletes scored big at both events – landing them in first place numerous times, and crowned Grand Champions twice at two different events.
The team, made up of student athletes from Russell County Middle and High Schools, features the talented roster of: Morgan Taylor, Olivia Thomas, Mia Keen, Lilly Williams, Abby Fox, Alexis Fox, Audrey Popplewell, Nikita Walker, Brooklyn Walker, and Madison Caldwell, and is led by head coach Amanda Turner – with assistance from Alissa Thomas.
In December, Laker Dance competed at the Crown Dance Championship in Corbin.
The team earned top honors including first place in both routines, Best Choreography, and Grand Champions.
Their amazing performances and high scores also earned them a “bid” to compete on the national level in Florida this Spring.
“National competitions are not something you can buy your way into,” Coach Turner said.”Teams must earn bids or invitations to attend”.
At Nationals, athletes have the opportunity to compete against other teams from across the southeast.
Receiving a bid to compete nationally is very special for the Laker Dance team, Turner said.
The eventful but unrealized year of 2020 was the first time in the team’s history they received a full, paid bid to compete at the national level.
After winning Ultimate Grand Champions at a regional competition in Corbin, the team immediately went to work improving and tweaking their routine – only to have their dreams thwarted by COVID.
“This left them hungry for a new season, and a new shot at competing,” Turner said. “So, to say the chance to compete Nationally means a lot to the team would be quite the understatement.”
The Laker Dance team is asking the community for their support to get the team to the upcoming national competition in Louisville.
“The team will be spending the night, and we are all so excited for this opportunity for them,” Coach Turner said. “We are so grateful to live in a community where sports and the opportunity that sports provide are valued.”
“From the start of our season, this community has rallied behind us,” she said, “from visiting our booth at the Russell County Fair to buying items we sold. We are asking for that support to come in big one more time for this group of kids.”
“They have worked so hard, and deserve this shot,” Turner said. “The team has a goal to raise $300 for each dancer to cover travel, competition, and food expenses.”
Anyone wishing to donate to help the Laker Dance team reach their goals can contact head coach Amanda Turner at (606) 448-1638, or email email@example.com.
The public can also send donations directly to Russell County High School – in care of the Dance Team Nationals Donation.
“There is no way we could be successful without our amazing community,” Coach Turner said. “From each of us on the Laker Dance team, we say THANK YOU for your continued faith and support!”