Honors keep coming to the Clayton Ridge Drill Team

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From left are drill team moms and dancers Kari Harbaugh, Calista Harbaugh, Nicole Schaefers, Noelle Hines, Taylar Wiedner, Hailey Peterson, and Candi Peterson at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. (Photo submitted)

By Molly Moser

At 3 a.m. on Dec. 27, five Clayton Ridge Drill Team members and two of their mothers climbed aboard a Suburban to trek over 1,300 miles from Guttenberg to Orlando, Fla., to perform with hundreds of others from around the country during halftime at the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1.

Last summer, drill team members junior Calista Harbaugh, sophomore Nicole Schaefers, senior Noelle Hines, junior Taylar Wiedner, and senior Hailey Peterson earned white ribbons at the Marching Auxiliaries (MA) Dance Camp in Des Moines, qualifying them to dance in the All American Half-Time Performance at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.  

“After a day and a half of travel the girls arrived at the Rosen Center for registration, check-in, and orientation. The first day of the weeklong program was a trip to the Disney park of the girls’ choice,” said Coach Julie Rastetter, who met the girls in Florida before traveling to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. “We elected to attend Disney's Hollywood studios, where they spent the day riding rides, shopping and meeting Disney characters like Star Wars’ Chewbacca and Darth Vader.” The dancers also visited Universal Studios for more rides, shows, shopping and fun.  

Performers were expected to arrive to the first rehearsal with the choreography already learned. “The CRDT girls came well prepared, earning them spots toward the front of the performance field,” said the coach. Hours of practice with the whole group of dancers focused on perfecting the routine, the transitions, spacing and how they were to enter and exit the field for the performance.

“My favorite part of our trip to Florida would have to be the thrill of performing in front of 65,000+ people. It was an experience unlike any other. The build up of anticipation that led to that moment was exhausting, but so worth the wait,” said senior Noelle Hines. “Along with the fantastic performance, it was also rewarding to go perform with my team and hundreds of other girls in something that so few people could even dream of. We were each given the opportunity to return for another show next year, and I hope that I will be able to.”

On game day, the five drill team members and their parents were seated in the stadium to watch the Florida Gators versus the Michigan Wolverines. After the first quarter, the girls were dismissed for line up in the tunnels under the stadium.  

“All eyes were on these young performers, who ranged in ages from 12-21, as they took the field and gave a spectacular performance,” said Coach Rastetter. The theme for the halftime was cartoon classics, featuring appearances by Bugs Bunny, Fred Flintstone, Scooby Doo and George Jetson. 

After the game, performers were shuttled to a celebratory dance party where they watched a preview of the performance from one of the 14 cameras that filmed it. 

“I was excited to perform in front of so many people and work with the amazing staff and performers. I enjoyed going to Universal Studios and Disney's Hollywood Studios, but my favorite part of the week was performing. The experience was invigorating and I hope I can partake in performing as a member of the Halftime cast again next year,” said senior Hailey Peterson.

Sophomore drill team member Nicole Schaefers also felt that performing in front of such a large audience was an adrenaline rush that will help her cope with nerves in the future. “I can bring back discipline to future drill team practices,” she said. “Overall this has been one of the best opportunities to extend my knowledge with dance.”

The Clayton Ridge Drill Team as a whole was selected by the Iowa Girls Athletic Union to perform their prize-winning state prop routine at the halftime of the 5A Girls Championship basketball game on Saturday, March 5.

“Officials from the Girls Athletic Union were present at the Iowa State Dance/Drill Team Association’s State Dance Competition last December and viewed over 590 routines looking for just two routines to be highlighted,” said coach Rastetter. “They were impressed with our prop routine performance and want it to be showcased  at the game along with being on IPTV that night at the tournaments.  We could easily be performing for an in-house audience of over 6000 people, along with the TV viewers.”

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