The Pink Panthers make school history at the national competition

Competition is nothing new for the Pink Panthers, but this year they were able to take it to a whole new level.

At the recent National Dance Team Championship in Florida, the Pink Panthers finished in 10th place with their hip-hop routine and 13th place with their pom routine.

“It was the most nerve-wracking moment I could imagine,” said Pink Panthers head coach Kaitlyn Merchant. “… Hearing the announcer say, ‘Norfolk High School’ was the most amazing feeling in the world.

“We have a video that shows the faces of the team as our name was called, and it brings tears to your eyes because you can see the pride and excitement on everyone’s faces. That moment was history for our show.

While competing in Florida, the Pink Panthers made it to the semifinals for both divisions. After the semifinals, only about half of the teams progress to the finals. Previously, Norfolk had never made it past the first round in program history.

The first step to competing at the National Dance Team Championship was to qualify. In July, the team scored top marks for its home routine. This initially qualified the Panthers for the National Dance Team Competition. The team decided to bring two routines (a pom routine and a hip-hop routine) to the Nationals, something that had never been done before in the history of the Pink Panther program.

At the National Championship, not only did the team have to compete in the hip-hop semifinals last Saturday, but the Pink Panthers also had to turn around and perform their pom in the finals an hour and a half later. That meant nightly rehearsals, last-minute changes, and a lot of costume planning. The team got ready to compete in hip-hop on Saturday. So it’s time to shift gears and focus on the pom.

After their performance in the pom finals, the team had to shift gears again to hear the announcement of the hip-hop finalists.

“I never thought the excitement and pride of Friday night could be recreated, but it was the exact same feeling when the announcer named Norfolk High School as a major varsity hip-hop finalist. Again, school history was being made at the time,” Merchant said.

Even the pom awards were surreal for many team members, especially being on stage with the best teams in the nation.

“To hear our name called for 13th place was incredible, absolutely indescribable. There was a lot of excitement and so many happy and proud tears,” Elder Maryn Mead said.

That enthusiasm would not end there. After the hip-hop finals performance, the team nervously awaited the results, which would not disappoint. In the end, not only was this the first time the Pink Panthers had brought a hip-hop dance to Nationals, they also placed 10th in the nation among so many amazing dance teams.

“They were determined to succeed, and that paid off with two trophies and lifelong NDTC memories,” said Merchant. “We are so grateful to our families and community who have supported us on our journey to Nationals. We would not have had this success without them.

“This team is incredibly special because they have big aspirations and are willing to work for them.”

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