Dance team finishes among nation’s best

Quinnipiac’s 20-member dance team finished among the top teams in the country this past weekend.

The team finished sixth in the Division I gameday category and 7th in the Division I pom category — in their first time competing in that category.

“Nationals competition prep began the day we finished competing last season — one year in advance,” said Coach Kelley Zaleta. “I knew I wanted to challenge our team to new heights this year. We practice hard, continuously study ourselves and our competition to be as prepared as we possibly can be.”

She said adding competition pom was exactly what the team needed to drive its other categories forward as well.

“Walking away from a championship as rich in athletic talent as this, finishing as finalists in our second year ever attending, is a huge success,” Zaleta said. “It is an honor to be among incredible teams that have a long standing history of dance team tradition. As a team, we always talk about earning others’ respect, earning acknowledgement of how difficult this sport truly is and likewise earning awards and titles, too. We are grateful to have finished in the top 7 of two categories.”

She attributes Quinnipiac to helping the team earn national recognition.

“Quinnipiac’s backing of our team has propelled our team forward in this short amount of time as a program,” said Zaleta. “Creating a new space for us to practice that is the same size as our competition floor is incredible and an opportunity that few — if any — other DI dance teams get the opportunity to take advantage of.”

Club sports and the Student Government Association have backed the dance program by helping its athletes reach their goals, she added.

“We compete with our traditional university fight song, chants and sidelines that we use at games and with a timeout performance,” Zaleta said. “What’s special about this category is that I am able to get every member out on to the floor. The energy is amazing!”

Zaleta has danced her entire life — and has also coached the Hamden High School dance team for more than a decade. She owns the dance studio, Dance Athletics, in Hamden.

“I am a Hamden native with a passion for keeping strong, solid programs in town for our students and kids,” she said. “Becoming the Bobcat dance team coach has been a dream of mine for many, many years.”

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