National champions, dedicated performers, and active community members are just a few ways to describe the Sonoma State University Sapphires. Since their establishment in 1996 as a small dance club, the Sapphires have grown significantly as a team, not only in size but also in school spirit. On campus, they perform in numerous sporting events ranging from side-lining at basketball games to half time shows for soccer. They perform at “Midnight Madness,” the Petaluma veteran’s day parade, and produce their own Spring Showcase annually.
“Becoming part of the athletic department is a dream I have for the team in the future,” said coach Megan Bowcott.
The Sapphires have earned award-winning titles since becoming a competing team in 2009 by dancing for the United Dance Association, or UDA, and in United Spirit Association, or Nationals. In March of 2016, they took home first place, and their first title, for division 2/3 hip-hop and second place for lyrical at USA Nationals. Their path of winning continued in the following competition year after placing second in both hip hop and lyrical.
“It has been a goal of mine since joining the team and to see it come true was insane, ” said Bowcott.
Off campus, the national champions feel just as passionate for giving back to the community. One of the team’s favorite activities is volunteering at the animal shelter via Sonoma Serves. At the shelter, the Sapphires clean the grounds to maintain a safe environment for the animals. “Sonoma Serves not only helps the community but is great for team bonding,” said junior and three year team member Haley Leffin. “Getting to play with the puppies after is just a bonus!”
Besides serving as an outlet for dancers to creatively express themselves, the Sapphires are a close-knit team linked together by the passion for performance and hard work. Despite the team’s recent achievements at 2016 and 2017 USA Collegiate Nationals, they still face the challenge in not being recognized as an official sports team at SSU. This obstacle, however, does not dull the Sapphire’s shine and just shows how committed each dancer is to their craft and school spirit. “I am a more confident person because of the support and sense of community the Sapphires have given me,” said team captain Jen Novero.
If you have a love for dance, want to find your home away from home and a girl-squad that rivals all others, come to the Sapphires fall auditions on Sept. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Niagara Studio at the campus Recreation Center.