The ETSU dance team features the talents of 13 students who are dedicated to each other and to dance.

Junior Ali Jo Gibson and sophomore Rachel Crabtree both contribute their skills, artistry and friendship to the team.

Gibson grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and has been dancing for 17 years.

Crabtree is from Clinton, Tennessee, and has been dancing for 15 years.

Both dance members are happy to continue their careers on a collegiate level.

“Dance has always been a part of my life, and being able to continue that in college has been one of the biggest blessings,” Gibson said. “Since freshman year, my best friends and even my roommates have all been the girls I dance with. We have a team that is consistently encouraging, loving and supportive on and off the dance floor.”

One of the reasons they love being on the team is because they are involved with the ETSU athletics in many ways.

“I love being a part of the dance team because we get to be so involved with other students and ETSU athletics,” Crabtree said. “We dance for football games and basketball games, on the sidelines, during time outs and have performances during halftime.”

The dance team isn’t only a part of the atmosphere of other sports on campus; it is independent and competitive with other dancers and universities.

“We go to the Universal Dance Association college national championship in Orlando in January and compete with college dance teams across the nation,” Crabtree said.

Gibson and Crabtree are also both students in the Fine and Performing Arts Honors College. They are as dedicated to dance on the stage as they are on the court.

Being on the dance team is no easy feat; the dancers have been training in technique their entire lives and continue to put in a lot of time and effort to be performance-ready.

“During the semester, we practice three days a week and have games mixed in all through the semester,” Gibson said.

However, dance never has an off season; they work hard year round.

“On the contrary, during the summer and over Christmas break, we practice almost every day getting ready for camp or nationals,” Gibson said, “and those are some of the most memorable times of my life.”

Like any team, the dance team forms friendships through all of the time and hard work that they spend together.

“These girls are my family,” Gibson said. “They’ve seen me cry, get mad, be over-joyous and just weird, and I know no matter what they will always be there for me.”

Being on the ETSU dance team, or on any other team, is hard work. The dancers put in a lot of effort behind the scenes to be ready for performance, but at the end of the day, all of their efforts pay off.

“Being on the dance team has given me something to be a part of, and I always look forward to practicing or dancing at games with my teammates.” Crabtree said. “It’s a great feeling to be on a team with girls who love to dance as much as I do. I encourage everyone to find an organization that they love and be as involved as possible.”