Four former Lionettes coached high school dance teams to positions of national rank this past weekend. The National Dance Team Championship was held in Orlando, Florida on Feb. 5 and 6. Three of Louisiana’s teams found themselves with a trophy thanks to their coaches, all former SLU Lionettes.
Lafayette High School, coached by Caitlin Carona, won 22nd place in small varsity jazz. Destrehan High School won 10th place in small varsity hip hop and were coached by Josie Serigne and Hailee Weber. The St. Thomas Aquinas Starlettes placed 8th, also in small varsity hip hop, and were coached by Olivia Marceaux Graziano.
Weber said, “It was definitely a different experience going from college nationals to high school nationals, and being on the coaching side instead of the dancing side. I was a lot more calm being on the coaching side of things. I tried to keep the girls focused on their goal and motivated to keep pushing. The team surpassed my expectations and represented Destrehan High School to the fullest. Louisiana put their name on the map this year with all the teams that did so awesome.”
All of the women credit their coaching styles, leadership skills and knowledge of the inner-workings of the dance team world to their time as a Lionette, as well as to coach Paige Hall.
Graziano said, “I model STA’s program very closely to Southeastern’s. Our goal at St. Thomas is to create great leaders in the Hammond
community and ensure that these girls feel comfortable and secure in their ability to achieve greatness before leaving high school. I truly believe that the Starlette experience is a more of a college prep program than a typical high school dance team experience. I encourage and expect the majority of my dancers to use their training to help them obtain scholarships to the universities of their choice.”
Seringe also agreed that leading the Desty Darlings comes from examples set by Hall and others in her term on the dance team. She said, “Paige has undoubtedly influenced that. What I’ve taken away from her mostly is the art of making “competition” a motivational force, as opposed to the sole focus. Competition, used in the right way, can be used in very positive ways such as improving quality of performance, developing character, etc.”
To view videos of the dances of Lafayette, Destrehan and St. Thomas Aquinas, click here.