Oh my goodness! Our team did a phenomenal job and claimed first place out of 18 teams at the Regional Competition! I was so proud of these kids, and so thankful for all the parents who volunteered to assist that day. It was a crazy whirlwind of a day, but they had such a great time.
Here are some glimpses of the day:
This picture was taken immediately after their performance. The blue ribbons in this picture are not official DI ribbons since the award ceremony had not occurred yet. I like to give my team blue ribbons during a morning pep talk the day of competition, and just let them know how I think they are already winners no matter what the judges decide. They've grown SO much this year and I wanted them to feel proud of their accomplishments. They learned so much and overcame so many obstacles this year, and I like giving them a ribbon to wear under their costume- it gives them a mental/emotional high that carries over to their performance. They LOVED wearing these around all day. (Many thanks to the Peek family for generously purchasing the medals this year!)
I didn't really get many pictures of the day, since I was often away from the team either registering, collecting scores, or observing other teams perform. When we were together, I was usually either training them for their event or taking them to watch other performances and discuss strategy.
The morning was spent making final adjustments to their sets and props. They decided to fold dozens of origami bugs and frogs to add to their backdrop, and add details to their set pieces. They spent the morning glueing, folding, and taping together in the cafeteria while we waited for our performance time.
But here's one shot of the team getting ready for their performance. Sarah was so excited to paint Eliza's face as a cat!
This is the dance party in the evening. While we wait for final scores to be compiled in the score room, there is always a DJ playing fun music in the gym. The kids had a wonderful time dancing and being silly together. And I totally joined the fun on the gym floor.
In truth, we didn't hope to win first place, we just hoped to be good enough to advance to the state level. We were determined to give it our best shot and at least get a medal.
We had observed a couple of great performances from other teams and were very impressed with some of their creations. None of the other teams really took us seriously before our performance, since our team isn't funded by a school or business. The conversations I had with other coaches earlier were all painted with slightly patronizing voices and pity. When they heard that we meet only once each week instead of 3-4 days, they brushed us off as amateurs not worth worrying about. They didn't know how dedicated these kids are!
Usually in DI competitions, coaches make it a point to observe the performances of teams they think will win. They want to glean little tips from what other teams do well, and scope out the competition. Many teams had over 100 spectators to worry about. When we went onstage, there was only one observer that wasn't an immediate family member. At first I was disappointed that I wasn't being considered a threat to the other coaches, but then I was relieved because my students wouldn't have to feel distracted with a large audience.
Our story is the classic story of an unknown, underfunded underdog team claiming victory over sponsored, experienced winners.
This is the view I had when they were announced as the winners. Just look at their excited faces! They couldn't stop jumping and squealing, and they all rushed back to me for a team hug. Our co-coach, Rebekka, was with a date that night. She was sitting in the bleachers with him, but she ran down to join us and share the moment of excitement.
Our team picture afterwards, with the official blue ribbons and plaque.
Now we are headed to the State Competition! Our team meetings have doubled, and they are busy improving their creations for the competition. I wish I could share more details about their performance, but we are keeping things under wraps until after the competition. I will say that the team is learning a host of new skills to prepare. And my kids have started taking a weekly Electronics course so they can learn to build their own motors. They had some great ideas to put in place before the next competition and -boy!- are they eager to build it all.
We really love this program, and I'm so thankful to be their coach! It's been such a great family adventure!