As the Blair poms team danced through their routine, a million thoughts were flying through their heads. "I was thinking about how much I really love being on the team and how important all these people are to me,” freshman Nikita Patel said. Senior Captain Fiona Lachman agreed. "I was just really happy... I felt confident and alive,” she added. Midway through their dance, the team stopped what they were doing to move to the middle of the dance floor. They picked up their poms, squished themselves together, and lifted them into the air to spell out an ‘M,' then a ‘B,' ‘H,' and ‘S.' The energized crowd shouted along with each letter and clapped to show their support. The team's routine also included different styles of dance including an opening lyrical sequence and a kicks line. Although they put an extreme amount of work into their performance, it was not enough to place in the Montgomery County Pompon Competition Saturday at Richard Montgomery.
The Blair Pom squad competed in Division three against eight other schools. Walter Johnson (WJ) swept the competition, taking home both first place overall and first place Captain's award. Bethesda Chevy-Chase came in second and Wheaton came in third, despite only having nine girls perform. WJ's performance was extremely clean and impressive.
Fans clad in red and white packed the designated Blazer section of the bleachers and avidly cheered not only for the Blair squad but for each of the other teams as well. Blair is known for winning the Spirit Award at the annual cheerleading county competition, but this year was the first since 2011 that Blair was able to win it at the poms competition as well.
The dance was choreographed and led by the three captains: seniors Maya Habash and Fiona Lachman, and junior Mary Lindsay. It included different dance sequences and movements, of which the girls had different favorite parts. "I really enjoyed the sassy energy we have during jazz,” Lachman said. Although the team did not achieve their desired results, Lindsay was proud of her team and their performance. "It was the best we have performed all season and I could not be more pleased with how we did,” she stated.
Though it was not evident from their performance, the Blair poms team has had coaching struggles and had switched coaches just a few weeks before the performance. Lindsay said she thought the team was able to perform well in spite of the coaching problem due to the support of other Blair staff. "We had the best support system later in the season. Ms. Boule was a huge help as well as Ms. Newman, and Mr. Cauley's daughter Erin. Our captains Maya and Fiona were amazing this season and the entire team works so well together so it ended up working out perfectly,” she said.
The team was also almost completely new this season with only five returning dancers. Despite the low number of returners, the team practiced hard during the first two sports seasons, performing their routine countless times at basketball games throughout the winter season. "We've worked so hard this season and we've had a lot of bumps along the road, but I'm so proud of us,” Patel said.
Blair's performance was impressive, as were the other schools in their division. Springbrook's team only had eight girls, but they still managed to convey enthusiasm and excitement in their dance. Wheaton, whose squad was also small, was memorable because of their song choice. The team's music was a mash up of TV show theme songs which had the audience laughing and singing along. Their routine was enough to get them third place. Gaithersburg and Northwood brought their school bands to provide a beat for their dance, which was a unique approach.
Blair managed to make their performance individualized and memorable by incorporating moves that no other teams did. One move, for example, called the rainbow, involved five of the girls moving to the front of the gym and holding hands. The two on the ends lay down and supported themselves on one arm to make a fan shape. This, and the multiple times when the entire team fell into the splits, made the performance a notable and attention-grabbing one for the Blazers.
The competition is over, but the team still thinks of each other as family. They are proud of their performance and excited to see what the future will bring. "Hopefully we just continue to improve as individual dancers but also as a team. I can't wait to see who is added to our team, and I know we will come back strong next year,” Lindsay said.
Emily Daly. More »