Increase in younger Bruin Girls creates new squad mentality

Nadav Gov-Ari

In 2010 the Bruin Girls’ nationally acclaimed dancing season featured a team consisting of six seniors. This year, however, the Bruin Girls are in a transition to youth — only one senior, captain Kathleen Oglesby, remains on the squad.
However, Oglesby believes having only one senior on the team doesn’t mean it is inexperienced.
“I kind of forget that I’m the only senior on the team,” Oglesby said. “I’ve known all the girls since we were really little since we did [Columbia Performing Arts Center] together.”
Their years of dancing together make the team a more unified squad. Even with the range of ages and abilities, the girls have formed a cohesive group. Coach Shannon McDaniel said the girls’ familiarity with each other and with dancing removed many of the obstacles that typify an underclassmen-dominated team.
“A lot of these girls have known each other for a long time,” McDaniel said. “They’ve all grown up dancing together in studio, so I guess that initial bond is already there. They’ve kind of just formed different friendships.”
Sophomore Kylie Smith has danced since she was in elementary school. She said the ‘youth’ of an underclassmen-led team was a bit exaggerated, as the girls on the squad are at comparative levels skill-wise.
“Having only one senior doesn’t really [adversely affect] the team,” Smith said. “Kathleen just adds to the team greatly by having experience with [the] Bruin Girls.”
In addition, McDaniel said since the girls are no more than a year or two apart, there is little difference in ability. But the transition still has been a change from that of years past.
“It’s definitely a different transition from last year,” McDaniel said. “Last year was my first year, and we had six seniors, so it’s interesting going from them being the main leaders of the team to just one [senior]. It’s been a little bit difficult adjusting, but we’ve had great leadership step up from the juniors to fill that void, and Kathleen has done a great job leading and instructing the team so far.”
Team chemistry, however, is the squad’s strength. The girls have known and danced with each other since their elementary school days. After years of classes at the CPAC the girls have grown more comfortable with each other.
“I am good friends with all the Bruin Girls, and a lot of us have been dancing together for quite a while at  CPAC,” Smith said. “The girls on the team are fun and easy to get along with, which makes being on the team that much better.”