A dazzling team
The UB Dazzlers, the dance team at UB, preform at sporting events along with the Thunder of the East marching band to energize and excite the crowd. Nick Fischetti /// The Spectrum
Halftime at the football game is their time to shine. The music is set, the crowd is ready and the team is in formation. The only worry left is whether they can pull it off.
The UB Dazzlers get ready to put on a 12-minute performance during halftime at UB's football stadium.
The Dazzlers, a dance team, is part of UB's Spirit Team. With approximately 14-20 girls, the team performs routines during football and basketball games with pom, jazz and hip-hop-style dances. In addition to the team's performances, the Dazzlers also participate in charity events and pep rallies outside of the stadium.
Marissa Bee, a junior occupational therapy major and UB Dazzler, said although some believe athleticism isn't required to be a Dazzler, being physically fit is an important aspect of being a part of the team.
The Dazzlers have three practices a week, honing their routines and putting them together while improving the chemistry of the dancers at the same time, according to Melanie Warren, assistant coach of the UB Dazzlers.
The team's funding for the past couple of years has not been substantial, and they had a hard time finding a place to practice, according to Warren. She said there have been multiple times in the past academic year when the team has trouble finding places to hold practice. Last year they were forced to practice in a hallway.
"Sometimes we get overlooked," Warren said.
They eventually were able to practice in Clark Hall on South Campus in a small dance studio in the basement.
Because of the practice location, it takes commitment from each girl to get to South Campus to practice and clear their schedules to get to and from practice without being late while getting their other work done, said Samantha Kelly, a freshman exercise science major.
Warren said the simple essentials such as new uniforms have been a constant struggle to obtain because of the lack of funding, and the team can sometimes be forgotten about.
Through all these trials and tribulations, the team finds ways to come closer together. They don't let the hardships that are out of their control affect the team's chemistry and spirit, according to Kelly. The team shares a particular closeness and emotional connection.
"I feel like we're a family," Kelly said. "When I came to UB, I was overwhelmed and it was so big. Now, being with the girls, I feel so much more comfortable and I feel like I gained a bunch of friends."
Anastasia Harisis, a freshman biomedical sciences major, agrees the team is like a second family.
"Being a freshman, it was weird coming to a university with 20,000 people and not knowing anybody," Harisis said. "But now being on the team I feel like I belong and being with all the girls it really does feel like a family."
The Dazzlers, although overlooked at some points by the university and the student body, feel with every sporting event they participate in, they are being recognized for their contributions. Jessica Glauber, a freshman biomedical engineering major, believes the team is growing in reputation.
"My first seasons on the team, we would show up to football games when they started and perform sidelines," Warren said. "For basketball season we would do maybe one or two different timeout routines for the entire season. Now, we are incorporated with the entire game day experience for both seasons."
The team arrives three hours before the football game's kickoff and then performs a pregame show with the Thunder of the East - UB's marching band - and performs during the game on the sidelines and at halftime.
"We feel like more and more fans at the games are aware of who we are and so I think we are growing in popularity as far as the students go," Glauber said. "We had an event where fans at the game had to know the name of a UB dazzler to win a prize and a surprising amount of people knew one."
The team works directly with the UB Marching Band to provide entertainment at sporting events (such as football and basketball games) at the university. These affiliations give the Dazzlers many new fans that don't just support them; they also motivate them, Marissa Heilig, a freshman exercise science major, said.
Many students who attend UB sporting events mistake the Dazzlers for the UB cheerleaders, according to Joelle Turek, sophomore nursing major.
"The UB cheerleaders work just as hard as we do and deserve just as much credit," said Audrey Enzian, a sophomore psychology major. "We just do something just as exciting but a little bit different. Sometimes it stinks when people are like, 'we have a dance team? What do they do?' But we feel like if we put the time in that people will start to know who were are and what we do."
The UB Dazzlers have to balance practices and performances all while being full-time college students. However, with the team's perseverance, they feel like it is well worth it to be a part of it. The team looks forward to the bright future ahead of them.
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