With a brand new team this year, the Sapphires are ambitious to win this upcoming competition season.
The Sonoma State Sapphires is a dance team ranging in different styles of dance, from jazz to pom to hip hop. They participate in on-campus rallies at the Sports Activities Fair and the Involvement Fair, perform at basketball halftimes and occasionally fraternity and sorority events. They compete in two competitions every year.
This year’s auditioned team is 14 women with seven of them new to the team. Their diverse range of backgrounds and dance styles has led their Coach Megan Bowcott to focus on them “learning how to dance together and dance the same”.
Auditions are held in spring usually sending out Youtube videos of the audition routine for girls to learn at home and then perform to the coaches along with across-the-floor technique combinations.
Three standouts this year are Haley Leffin, Colette Ufholtz and Haley Mattos. Leffin is the team captain and a senior at Sonoma State. Ufholtz, a sophomore, is the co-captain and treasurer. Mattos is a senior and their coach, Megan Bowcott, has been a part of the Sonoma State Sapphires for ten years now including the four she did as a team member.
The Sapphires practice at 6 a.m. twice a week. Leffin jokingly said “what a better way to wake up and get to do something that you love with people that you love,” but in reality they all admitted the hardest part is getting out of bed.
“It’s hard, but by the time I get here I’m fine,” said Coach Bowcott.
This is the second year they are doing morning practice and Ufholtz mentioned they “definitely keep each other accountable for getting to practice.”
All four women started dancing by the age of four and continued through college. However, all of them came from different dance styles and backgrounds such as ballet, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical and pretty much everything in between.
When asked why she chose to stick to dance, Mattos laughingly said, “because I was bad at everything else.” Similarly, Coach Bowcott admitted that during the first five minutes of her first soccer practice she was hit in the face by the ball playing goalkeeper and decided that would be the last of it with soccer.
In 2016, the Sapphires got first place and second in 2017. Last semester they were fourth and all four of the women I spoke to admitted that this semester they were very eager to better themselves and get back up to first this year.
“Getting back up there is a huge driving force for us this year,” said Coach Bowcott.
Although they do not need to focus much on team bonding as they are very much a family already, technique and uniformity is something Coach Bowcott intends to improve within the team. This will be a fun challenge with such a range of backgrounds on the team and so many new girls to mold together.
The girls I spoke with were all very excited for the basketball game performances and especially their competitions. They have two national competitions this year, one in Anaheim and one in Las Vegas. They are “nervous-excited,” said Coach Bowcott, for the Las Vegas nationals because it is the first time the Sapphires will be competing in that competition.
Competitions are self-funded and can tend to be pricey with travelling costs. They have created a gofundme page titled “Help the Sapphires Go To Nationals” for anyone willing to donate to a team that is “honored to represent Sonoma,” said Leffin.
For more information on the team visit sonomastatesapphires.weebly.com.