By Elysia Richards-Durham ’19
In the interest of full disclosure, Elysia Richards-Durham ’19 is a part of the STEP team.
The rush of adrenaline you feel pumping through your veins as you wait to hear the winning numbers for the Mega Millions or as you wait to open presents is what Midwood steppers experienced at Youth Step USA on January 13, 2018.
Hearts race, sweat drips, the crowd cheers, anxiety builds up, until the judges announce their rankings. Out of five high schools, winning second place, was Midwood’s Lady Phoenix.
“Lady Phoenix is not only a team, but a sisterhood in which we motivate and uplift those who are around us,” said Skyla Lowe ’19. “Being a part of the step team is a pleasure and no one will ever understand the amount of hard work we put into each and every routine we create. We tend to spend day after day preparing for a competition, striving for perfection and sharpness. In other words, practice can be a day filled with commands, being yelled at, and continuously repeating a routine. However, we are a team filled with numerous personalities and nothing but smiles despite the days we are all drained from long hours of school. We always remember that if you work hard, you get a good outcome which is why we received second place in competition and first for girls overall.”
Winning second place was a tremendous achievement, but the team wants to do even better.
Co-captain Alicia Jones ’19 stated, “The journey to our win was a tumultuous one with a lot of bumps in the road. There were arguments, there was confusion, but being a team means coming together for one common goal. I believed in my team from the start. I feel that we have have potential to be greater than we already are and maybe next competition we could pull first place.”
In order for the girls to accomplish the ranking they received, they had to practice hard.
Makeda Toney ’20 said, “To prepare for the competition, we put a lot of hard work and energy into every practice. There were a lot of attitudes but we pulled it off in the end. If there was not a boy team, we would have won first place. We were the best girl team! Our theme was Martin and our routine was filled with comedy and entertainment.”
The team had to really adjust their schedules. By doing this they had to sacrifice any type of free time and put their social life on hold.
Co-captain Jemelia Moore ’18 noted, “The process is really complicated. Instead of practicing two days a week, we practiced five days straight with extended practice time. We won second place against some of the best teams in Brooklyn. We practiced for less than two weeks and for only having a short amount of time to practice, we did really great. Preparing my team for this competition was overwhelming and frustrating because we work with a lot of challenges. I am very proud of my team.”
Captains put their all in making sure the team can be the best that they can be.
Tiffany Umstead ’19 said, “Each day our captains continued to push us further and further to get where we needed to be. It’s definitely a difficult and stressful process but it’s also fun. In a way, we grew closer with every laugh and disagreement leading up to competition day.”
Some of the teammates didn’t perform, but they came to give moral support and feedback.
Caitlyn Ellison ’21 commented, “They had a lot of energy and their hands were together. It made me so proud. When they had their solos, they spoke clearly, they were loud, and the first stomp grabbed the audience’s attention. There was a part where they messed up but they caught on.”
Another member, Shanaya Lafaille ’21, who didn’t perform but watched the show added, “It was different from the others, feel me.”
She said that the skit was funny, energetic and the uniforms were a good match for the characters they were portraying.
Competitions are nerve-wrecking, but the end result always wins the day.
Talaia Regist ’19 said, “STEP competition is a very fun thing to participate in however, the hard work never stops, especially the week prior to competition. We continuously practice to perfect each step. Although it is tiring, it is all worth it because we end up placing in the competition which is the greatest feeling ever.”
A section of Lady Phoenix’s steppers were photographed and put into the Daily News.
Ms.Volcy, the STEP team’s advisor, stated, “I’m always proud of my team. I know how hard they work and how complicated their steps are.”
Ms.Volcy said that in comparison to other teams, Lady Phoenix’s steps are more complex because the steppers get creative all the time.
“They don’t always have to win, but they get the accolade they deserve,” added Ms.Volcy.