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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Putting new spin on A&M Athletics

Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

For the first year ever, the Aggie Dance Team is operating as an athletics team.

With every turn, kick and move it makes, the Aggie Dance Team, or ADT, exhibits what it means to have Aggie Spirit and elevates the deep-rooted traditions of Texas A&M.
A normal weekly practice for the dance team begins at 5:30 a.m., walking into Reed Arena, fueled by caffeine and a passion for dance. After 5:50 a.m. bleacher running and stretching, repetitive eight counts consume the majority of practice. Jumping from dance to dance, the dancers’ memorization skills are on full display.
Founded in 1990, the Aggie Dance Team started as a student organization, but later shifted to a Texas A&M Athletics support group in 1995. As of 2021, the Aggie Dance Team is the official dance team under the Texas A&M Department of Athletics. The team now has access to a variety of trainers and specialists that keep the team members healthy and help them to perform injury-free.
Amy Liefer, four-year head coach, leads the 22 women on the team. Coach Liefer graduated from Auburn and was a five-year member of the Atlanta Falcon Cheerleaders. Her background in choreography and dance advances her team’s talent and has successfully achieved her goal of popularizing the dance team’s name across such a large university. The team is also led by captains kinesiology senior Hannah Broussard, kinesiology senior Callie Davenport and management senior Isabella Villanueva.
Broussard said she greatly admires the time Leifer has invested in advancing the squad.
“She wanted to have Aggie Dance Team bigger in the university,” Broussard said. “Since she has [coached us], we have taken [the] dance team a lot more seriously, and she has given us a lot more opportunities. It was her ultimate goal for us to go to Nationals, and she made that happen last year.”
In addition to supporting other A&M athletes, the team prepares year-round to compete in the National Dance Competition each spring in Orlando, Fla. At the 2021 competition in April, the team took home two national titles for their jazz and team routines and also won the battle for D1A. Davenport said she felt the team was well-supported in their return to competition.
“It really felt like all of our hard work paid off.” Davenport said. “We worked really hard as a team to pull that off with it being our first time competing in [20 years]. The university was behind us, and we really felt supported from home.”
The team’s season starts with an extensive tryout process, with the dancers displaying their talents in hopes of wearing maroon and white. After final selections, the team is comprised of 22 of the best dancers at A&M.
Communication sophomore Farris Dees said she never thought she would continue her dancing career in college.
“If my younger self saw that I was dancing for one of the biggest schools in Texas, I would be so proud of myself for going after something that I was passionate about,” Dees said. “Being a member of the Aggie Dance Team has given me so many opportunities that I never imagined I would have.”
Dating back to 1907, one of the most well-known traditions in Aggieland are the Yell Leaders, who are responsible for boosting the morale of all A&M games and embodying the spirit of the 12th Man. It often comes as a shock to outsiders when learning that A&M does not have sideline cheerleaders. Although the Aggie competitive cheer team has had great success in recent years, engineering sophomore Elizabeth McFarlane said ADT’s spirited role at the university has found its own way to stand out.
“I think as a group we just really love supporting the Aggies,” McFarlane said. “It is so great to be around all the people that I love and to be able to support A&M in any way that they allow us to.”
The team has come a long way from a support group as they now perform at all men’s and women’s home basketball games, select volleyball matches, on dugouts at home baseball games and help out at football games and soccer matches. The team also makes appearances at tailgates, local elementary schools and provides clinics taught by coach Liefer.
As men’s and women’s basketball seasons kick off, the dance team has perfected their sideline routines and court dances that they perform during timeouts. The team plays the heaviest role at basketball games and have even traveled to March Madness tournaments in the past. In addition, the team performs at select home volleyball games throughout the fall at Reed Arena. Adding to all their other athletic contributions, team members scan tickets at home soccer matches and greet spectators with a welcoming Aggie smile.
Outside of dance, the team also gets to represent A&M in many other ways. At football games, the dancers walk the flags onto Kyle Field right before the team runs out. With over 100,000 fans looking down at the field, the electric atmosphere is contagious, and economics sophomore Sara Thomas said it is a moment she will never forget.
“I was in tears the first time we did it,” Thomas said. “In the tunnel, everything is echoed and it is so loud. You can see the hundred thousand people, and it [is] such an insane feeling.”
Not only is this the ADT’s first year under the athletics department, but they are beginning to dance at sports that once seemed like a distant dream. New baseball head coach Jim Schlossnagle reached out to Liefer about the dance team performing like they did during his time at TCU. For the first time ever, the girls of Aggie Dance will perform on the dugouts at regular season home baseball games, continuing their support of all of A&M Athletics, and are excited for the new opportunity, Davenport said.
“We are very excited to dance at the baseball games just because that is something that was never something that was on any of our radars,” Davenport said. “We never really expected that to happen, so the fact that we get to do that this year is really exciting for us, and I think will open more doors at this university.”
A&M is rooted in rich history and tradition, and the Aggie Dance Team continues to represent all the Core Values of A&M while finding a way to make its own mark. Liefer said her favorite part about the dance team is hard to pinpoint.
“[My favorite part] changes every year,” Liefer said. “I really just love being their coach.”

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