Newtown High School’s dance team, only four years ago, had club sport status. Interest in the squad grew, and strong support from school officials, including Athletic Director Gregg Simon and Coach Cheryl Stenz, led to varsity status for the program. Commitment on the part of the athletes and coaches, and lots of hard work, has made it all pay off.
Now, the girls are state champions.
The dancers, fresh off South-West Conference Hip Hop and Jazz titles, captured the large school Jazz title in the February 22 competition at Hamden High School. The routine the 20 girls did beat out the efforts of eight other large schools. There were 32 dance teams representing various class sizes across the state, and the Nighthawks enjoyed being one of the few to be crowned the best and to stand alone in their grouping.
“It was amazing just hearing our name being called,” said captain Lindsay Brestovansky, whose mom Liz and sister Emily help coach the team.
“I thought we had a chance, but it was still really exciting,” captain Olivia Hoffmann said of the team winning the state title a year after it placed fourth.
Stenz credits much of the team’s success to the work of her assistants, noting that Emily Brestovansky was responsible for providing great choreography for the girls.
The dance season barely begins or ends. It’s pretty much year-round. The girls perform at halftime of football games in the fall and basketball contests throughout the winter months. The summer “offseason” includes practice time as the participants get into sync with each other in order to put their best feet forward once the school year rolls back around.
“They’ve worked really hard,” Stenz said of her dancers. “We’ve been together working as a team since July — putting in a lot of time, a lot of effort.”
Lindsay Brestovansky said she likes jazz and hip hop equally since the different styles allow the Hawks to showcase different strengths and styles.
The camaraderie element of the team — “working together, as a unit” — is what captain Haley Cobb likes best about dancing.
Members of the championship team, in addition to the captains, are: Jenna Siroky, Victoria Madden, Nicole Connolly, Emma Burns, Emily Sippin, Meghan Powers, Lauren Tripodi, Charlotte Stenz, Meera Gupta, Michaela Hall, Kaitlyn Pierce, Catie Ingersoll, Lauren Villamana, Emma Short, Riley Smith, Kamdynn Moroney, and Allie Indelicato.