Silver Starz prepare for drill season with new leadership amid pandemic

Valeria Silva, Special Sections Editor

As the new school year was coming in quick, Franklin High School Silver Starz got a dramatic change in leadership.

The 2020-2021 coach took on another dream of hers and left Silver Starz under the direction of co-director Rebekah Munoz, captain Jessica Nidadhal, and co-captain Damara Baustert until the school was able to find a new director.

“It was a little bit of a shock, since it was so close to school, so it was a bit hectic but so far everything has been going good,” co-director Rebekah Munoz said.

Before the school year starts, the team would usually start two weeks of practice but this year they had to postpone it because of the lack of coach.

The team would use these two weeks to condition and teach the new team members correct technique for kick or pom routines.

Not only are these two weeks beneficial for the team members but also for leadership so that they can evaluate the team and make sure to work on what needs to be fixed before the football season begins.

As the first week of school began, the team was informed that they found the new director for Silver Starz, Alyssa Donnelly.

Ms. Donnelly was a former student at Franklin and was captain of Fusion Dance Company during her time at Franklin.

When she heard that the spot was open to be director of Silver Starz, she decided that it was the perfect opportunity to mix both of her passions—dancing and teaching kids about dances.

“Having the best of both worlds was something incredible and something that I was interested in doing as a job,” Donnelly said.

Since the change of leadership was so sudden, the whole process wasn’t as smooth. Captains had to start choreographing for the first couple of performances including pep rally, but at the same time they had to make sure the team was fully ready to learn the complicated pieces.

All of that stress falls under the captains. The stress was also distributed to the co-director, since she had to supervise every single practice as well as lead Donnelly in the right direction to be a successful drill coach.

“Officers and captains have had to take on more work than we would of last year, since we had to deal with the change of director,” Co-Captain Jessica Nidadhal said.

Before Donnelly started teaching at Franklin, she used to be a dancer and teacher at breaking beats dance studio.

Donnelly has great technique that can be passed down to the dancers and is currently learning from the captains and co-director on how to lead a drill team.

A drill team and a studio team can be two completely different things.

A drill team has to make sure that arms are strong, and every beat is hit, as to where a studio dance team has more styles of dance and many styles include that arms are flowy, which makes both teams the complete opposite.

Donnelly made sure to go to workshops to help her learn the necessities for choreographing strong drill routines.

“It was a huge jump from teaching a small group of girls at studio to teaching over 50 girls on the drill team,” Donnelly said. “But I was able to quickly adjust to.”

Leadership not only has changed because of the directors but also on the closeness of the team.

This year’s team includes of two captains and five officers. The two captains teach choreography and makes sure that the team knows everything that is necessary for an upcoming performance.

Since the team has around 50 girls, officers are each assigned a line of about 10 girls each. An officer’s job is to go over dances that captains taught and answer any questions that the girls have about the dances.

Officer and Junior Kayden Bang mentioned that this year officers were more involved with their lines than they were last year.

“Leaders are more involved this year with their lines than they were last year, so they are having to put more work in,” Co-Captain Damara Baustert said.

A change in leadership comes with a change in team.

According to Munoz, Donnelly will be able help the team with community exposure as well as bringing in more performances opportunities and she would love to make travel in the future.

Donnelly likes to focus on the team bonding because she believes that once the team knows more about each other they will be able to work and dance better together.

Some of the girls on the team have known Donnelly since she was a dance teacher at her studio, so they knew that her personality could really help her with this transition.

“I knew that Ms. Donnelly was a very bubbly and kind-spirited and I was very excited to get to work with her,” Officer and Junior Braelinn Anderson said.

The team has accepted their new coach with open arms, and for a coach that could make the transition easier.

Donnelly heard that Silver Starz had an opening for head coach, and she did her best to get that position. She took workshops and researched all over the internet to make sure that once she got the job, she could fully understand the idea of being a drill team coach.

Being the new kid in town can really make you nervous and Donnelly mentioned that she is a worrier when it comes to being in a new environment where nobody knows you.

She mentioned that the team made her feel welcome as soon as she walked through the doors of Franklin High school.

“Coming in here I instantly felt welcome, not only by the team but from the support of admin,” Donnelly said. “It quickly relinquished my anxiety and made me more excited to be here than I was.” Silver Starz has come a long way from the beginning of the school year to now.

They have performed at a couple events and succeeded in every single one of them. With the help of their new head director, Silver Starz will continue growing in ways that many won’t expect.

Every single leader on the team handled the change of leadership in the most professional way.

They were able to take charge by scheduling meetings with Ms. Mena, organizing uniforms, and talking with the band director about new cadences this year. Leaders really showed the team that with or without a head coach, they can accomplish big things.