University of Minnesota: Dance Dynasty

Minnesota is a great state. We’re known for our 10,000+ lakes, hearty winters, Paul Bunyan, and the healthy reputation of the Twin Cities. Arguably, we are not known for having national champion sports teams. Between the Vikings, Twins, North Stars, Wild, Timberwolves, and Lynx, we can boast three World Series titles and two WNBA titles (we have the Lynx to thank for winning anything in the current century). The University of Minnesota fares slightly better when it comes to national bragging rights, but only just. Women’s hockey triumphed in 2012 and 2013, but the Gophers’ national championship record is spotty, particularly in recent years.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a team that consistently won national titles? Wouldn’t it be worth celebrating if we had a team that won, say, five national titles in a row?

Just for a moment, imagine the fanfare of a fifth consecutive national title for the football team, or men’s basketball team. Imagine the headlines proclaiming the dominance and prowess of the athletes, the leadership of the captains, the strategic genius of the coaches, and the swell of Gopher pride all over the state. Imagine, if you can, the ridiculous impossibility of failing to find a single article written about our five time national champion baseball or hockey team.

Yes, it would be so wonderful to be able to claim a team of our very own as national champions for the fifth time in five years.

Which is why it’s so disappointing to know that we can, yet choose not to celebrate it.

This past weekend, the University of Minnesota Dance Team clinched their fifth consecutive national title, bringing their total to fourteen since 2003. Can you guess how many news articles were written to celebrate, or even mention this fact?

Source: Gopher Athletics

Source: Gopher Athletics

If you guessed one, you’re right…ish. CBS posted a story while I was writing this post that fails to mention anything about consecutive titles or recognize any of the team members, and devotes an entire paragraph to other winners of additional championships that took place over the same weekend. Still no mention from the Star Tribune or Pioneer Press. By comparison, there were six articles about Sunday’s men’s basketball game in view on the sport page of the Star Tribune website, and they lost by 21 points.

Now hang on, I can hear a deafening wave of impending comments: DANCE ISN’T A REAL SPORT!!!

To all of you, two points.

  1. If you are obtuse enough not to recognize that dancers are first and foremost athletes, please educate yourself, or better yet, try to survive a week of dance team practices.
  2. You’re missing the bigger picture that Minnesota has an athletic team (see above) with five consecutive national titles. Do you know when the last time that happened was?

Moving on.

The University of Minnesota Dance Team won their fifth consecutive dual national titles this past Sunday, January 19th, in Orlando, FL (yes, technically they’ve won ten national titles in five years).

Led by captians Rachel Fellows, Kim Saunders, and Rachel Saunders, the 18 woman team competed for and won the 1A Jazz and 1A Pom divisions.

In Pom, a style known for its high energy routines and military-like precision, UMDT performed to a mix featuring All I Do is Win and was a clear favorite with their signature turns and jumps, and outstanding synchronization.

Source: UDA

Source: UDA

For Jazz, the team flawlessly executed Uninvited, which brilliantly showcased their extraordinary technique and choreography, as well as a number of stunning turn combinations, and highly difficult and crowd-pleasing tricks.

Source: UDA

Source: UDA

Reactions from the team’s fan base and ardent admirers hit the Twittersphere throughout the weekend, including a tweet from Flip Saunders, President of the Minnesota Timberwolves, whose twin daughters help co-captain the team.


A message from the team was posted on their Facebook page early Monday morning following their victories: “We are so excited to have won the Division 1A Jazz and Pom National Champions for the fifth year in a row! Thank you to everyone for all of the support over the season and this weekend!”

As one fan put it, “You know that word dynasty people like to throw around? This is what one of those looks like.”

Hear that Minnesota? We have a dynasty.

It’s time to start recognizing that fact.

UDA 1A Pom Final Rankings:

1. University of Minnesota
2. Ohio State University
3. University of Nevada Las Vegas
4. University of Colorado
5. University of Memphis

UDA 1A Jazz Final Rankings:

1. University of Minnesota
2. University of Tennessee
3. Ohio State University
4. Arizona State University
5. University of Colorado


14 responses to “University of Minnesota: Dance Dynasty

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Have heard the “dance is not a sport” argument, too. Just try to keep up with these girls 🙂 Congrats on your 5th consecutive National Title, ladies. A-MAZ-ING!!

  2. Great article! It’s about time someone considered the amazing dancers in this state. However, you should definitely consider mentioning the other great dance teams in this state, like UMD’s and St. Thomas’s. Mankato placed, too. These ladies are also winners who don’t get the recognition they deserve.

    • Thanks! For this particular article I was making a point about recognizing D1 athletes, but I completely agree that all of our Minnesota dancers deserve recognition they deserve for all of their hard work and amazing performances.

  3. Love your article! My daughter is on the team and these girls are the hardest working individuals I know, not to mention kind hearted and humble as well. I would love to see them get the recognition they deserve. Thank you!

  4. Fantastic article ! My daughter is a freshman on the team and has worked so hard to be apart of a amazing team!!!! I really wish they would get recognition for there hard work, like any of the boys teams would! Thanks again!

  5. Thank you for posting. It’s like all the thoughts in my head exposed! 🙂 I was on dance team for 6 years and I haven’t been in that good of shape in my life… I also had a lot of injuries, probably from having to practice in the cafeteria or on carpet, because first priority was given to other sports. Going to state dance every year is like my superbowl. Doesn’t get enough recognition at ALL.

  6. Reblogged this on Adventures & Thoughts and commented:
    I wanted to share this for all of you who don’t think dance is a sport. My team practiced 3 1/2 (sometimes 4) hours a day, with competitions on weekends. We spent 12 hours a day on choreography during fall and winter break. I suffered through three different injuries. I know what it’s like to word hard and not get recognition deserved. UMDT is incredible — along with all the other Minnesota teams! We deserve recognition. Minnesota is the state of dance.

  7. The Dance Dynasty in Minnesota actually started when I moved here in 07′. No articles about THAT either. Harumph.

  8. Thank you for recognizing the amazing feat this team has done. They train as hard as all athletes and are very disaplended with no compensation for their investment, just pure love for their sport. They deserve to be recognized for their achievements. Great job ladies!!!

  9. Pingback: Follow Friday: Laptop Ginger | University of Minnesota Women's Center Blog

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