Integrated dance and cheer team: where are they now?


Nicole Morsfield

Cheerleaders and dancers practice together and learn from each other as the new Grizzly Motion.

Katie LaDuke, Staff Reporter

About five months have passed since the combination of the cheer and dance teams. Within those five months, two new head coaches were named, tryouts were held, new routines were learned and a new name was appointed to the alternative team.

Head coaches Chelsea Estes and Kayla Peiffer held the first set of tryouts at the end of May and just finished the second set of tryouts on Sept. 11 and 13. As of right now, there is a total of 35 members on the squad.

On June. 21, Grizzly Motion was announced as the new name of the squad. The team worked collectively to brainstorm ideas, and both sides came together to vote on the final name.

“I think [picking a name] was the start of really bringing us together as a team,” Estes said.

When the team was first announced, there was a lot of confusion for the athletes as well as in the community. Oakland University Athletics has set out to make sure everyone is aware that neither sport is cut nor are the athletes being cross-trained in cheer and dance. Routines are being choreographed to showcase individual talents as well as having the athletes work together.

“Right now the dancers are working on a hip-hop routine,” Estes said. “We’re always thinking of ways to incorporate the cheerleaders. We’re also working on the fight song. Our fight song is really cool having the cheer and the dance combined.”

As Grizzly Motion grows, the main focus is learning. Cheerleaders are learning from dancers just as dancers are learning from cheerleaders. Both sides are choreographing routines and chants, and learning to verbally perform the chants to be a more cohesive unit. Going back to the basics has also been a concern for the team as a whole.

“At first I think [challenges were] just getting the girls used to each other,” Peiffer said. “After a few practices, it was easy for them to come together and understand what the division was.”

However, coming together as one team is not always as easy as it seems, especially with a slight rivalry between cheer and dance in the past. Now that both sides have adjusted, girls feel that more schools should have a team like this.

“I expected there to be a lot of differences that our two teams would have to overcome just because cheerleading and dancing are two different styles,” freshman dancer Josephine Cipriano said. “So far, there hasn’t been anything too difficult for us not to handle.”

At the end of last year, there was talk about starting a separate competition team since Grizzly Motion would not be eligible for national competitions. This year the team will not be forming a competition team. Instead, attention will be put on rebuilding, getting stronger and game day performance.

“This was the girl’s’ decision,” Peiffer said. “They realized that this was a good opportunity for them to take a step back and understanding what the game day side is involved with.”

Community involvement and engagement has also been stressed since the formation of the new squad. Over the last few months, Grizzly Motion took part in the Special Olympics, Oakland University Night at Jimmy John’s Field, OU Night at Comerica Park and various welcome week events.

There are plans in the works for the squad to take part in the breast cancer awareness walk and to collaborate with the basketball team.

As everyone gets settled into the new school year before the craziness of basketball season starts, many Golden Grizzlies are still unaware of what the new squad is. Grizzly Motion is excited to show off the hard work that has been put into the team and encourages the student body to go see what the new squad is all about.  

“It’s all been about challenge and change,” Estes said. “It’s been challenging and a change for us to rethink and rebuild this program. We both have great visions. We know it’s going to be a process. It’s been a journey, but a fun one.”