Hawkettes Compete in Disney

There is arguably no opportunity that brings a team more excitement than competing in the place where magic happens every day. Over winter break, the Hawkettes Travel Team brought out their Mickey ears and traveled to Walt Disney World in Florida to compete in the 2018 UCA and UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship. The team enjoyed a three day stay from Jan. 12-15, competing on the Jan. 13.

Competing in Disney is a huge milestone for RWU’s Hawkettes considering that this is the first time the travel team has attended and participated in this event. Senior Alicia Hoxsie, president of the Hawkettes Dance Team, said that her and the other officers “immediately discussed what [they] wanted to accomplish for this year and one of [their] main priorities was trying to compete on a national level.” The team has been in local competitions before, but members really wanted to represent the school nationally.

Being able to physically travel to Florida to compete did not come without its obstacles. The school could only fund so many team members to go on the trip, leaving the officers with the challenge of finding the most dedicated students on the team who were visibly excited to compete. Additionally, the Hawkettes do not have a coach, so officers again took on the heavy responsibilities of choreographing the routine, planning, and booking the trip.

The team did not let these issues stop them from achieving their goals, however, as they took the initiative to raise money on their own. In December, the Hawkettes held a raffle at their benefit show, and the proceeds from those sales helped partially with the fundraising for their trip. The girls were determined to reach their dreams no matter what drawbacks got in the way.

After all of these hurdles were overcome, plane tickets were booked and the team finally made it to Disney World. Since the Hawkettes are a Division III team and this was their first time competing, they entered into the Open Pom category. Hoxsie said that the team performed excellently, adding “The crowd really pumped us up and we had our best performance yet.”

Support was in no way limited on the team’s journey, as they definitely did not go it alone. Members were accompanied by the team’s two advisors, Theresa Capelo, the associate director of Housing, and Carol Sacchetti, the director of Student Programs and Leadership on campus. Hoxsie also noted that even family members, who are likely some of the most energetic fans, made the trek to Disney to cheer them on in the crowd.

The trip was definitely not all work and no fun. During their brief stay, the team made it to all of the Disney Parks, even attending Magic Kingdom twice, as one visit was only for its renowned fireworks display. Natalia Villareal, a freshman on the team majoring in Criminal Justice, said that she had an amazing time with her teammates: “We got to relax after working so hard everyday for the competition, and enjoy the rides and thrills of Animal Kingdom and my favorite park, Hollywood Studios.” The team also enjoyed preferential treatment, as this park was open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. just for those competing.

Team members stayed on Disney property in the All-Stars Movie Resort, which is known for its enormous statues of classic Disney movie characters such as Woody from “Toy Story” and Perdita and Pongo from “101 Dalmations.” Villareal noted that she had a blast staying there with her teammates.

“The resort maintains its theme so well with of characters everywhere, and it really made me feel like I was part of the Disney magic,” she said.

Other than bringing pride to the RWU community as its travel dance team competed for the first time ever at Nationals, the team members acknowledge that the trip was very rewarding overall.

We were able to make great memories and meet new people from all around the world, which is something we will never forget,” Hoxsie said. “As for the four seniors, myself included, we were incredibly blown away that we were able to make our dreams of competing on the Disney stage come true.”