Area dance team: Continuity leads to successWhen the Lake City dance team takes the Target Center floor Saturday it will mark its fourth consecutive appearance at the Class A state tournament. If the Tigers finish in the top six of the 12-team event, it will be their third straight appearance in the state finals.
By: Eric Lear, The Republican Eagle
When the Lake City dance team takes the Target Center floor Saturday it will mark its fourth consecutive appearance at the Class A state tournament. If the Tigers finish in the top six of the 12-team event, it will be their third straight appearance in the state finals.
Part of the reason for Lake City's sustained success is continuity.
Heather Sell has coached in the Lake City dance program for the past six years. She spent two years coaching the junior varsity and one year as a varsity assistant. Sell is now in her third year as the varsity coach. Four of the five seniors on this year's team -- -- Katie Hamilton, Annalise Wallerich, Emily Spano and Gabrielle Prebe -- were on Sell's first JV team as seventh-graders.
Sell said she doesn't want the end of the year to come because she has such a tight relationship with the seniors.
"She really is just like a mom or like a sister to us," Hamilton said of her coach. "We connect on a more personal level not just coach to dancer. She can be straight up with you and you can be straight up with her. Constructive criticism is much easier and much more straight forward."
Hamilton added that Sell's dedication to Lake City dance has helped the team develop into a top-tier program.
"She puts her heart and soul into the program and that's why we're so good," Hamilton said. "We wouldn't be where we are without her."
In spite of the team's success -- Lake City won the Rochester Mayo and Winona invitationals and finished in second place in four other events this year -- the Tigers entered the Section 1A tournament without expecting to return to state.
"We don't ever go into the section meet with a (mindset) like, 'We have this,'" Wallerich said.
The Tigers took second at the section meet.
With the seniors in the twilight of their careers, the opportunity to return to the finals is looming.
"It's not necessarily an expectation to go to finals but it is something that the girls on the team this year have had a chance to experience and it's definitely a goal they want to achieve," Sell said.
However, Hamilton and the Tigers are preparing for the state meet just as they did for every other meet this year.
"Our main goal is to put our best performance on the year out there and we get what we get," she said.
Added Sell: "We're not leaving disappointed that day. We are just going to go and do our best. That's all we can control."