Lincoln dance struggles to have practice time in the gym


Isabella Hartman

Lincoln Dance Team practices in the wrestling room, dressed in full regalia.

Hazel Thomas and Isabel Bruce

Despite new, larger gyms, dance team members say they struggle to access practice space this year. The team feels they are not being prioritized in the way they deserve. 

“We’ve only had one full practice in the Lincoln gym this entire year,” said Eloise Hook, junior and dance team member. 

Instead of using the Lincoln gyms, the dance team has practiced in a classroom, the hallway or the gyms of other schools.

“We’re supposed to have Mondays in the Lincoln gym, but now we’re pretty much always either at West Sylvan or Forest Park Elementary,” said Sophie Wendt, senior and dance team captain.

Though they planned a practice schedule with the Lincoln athletic director, Jessica Russell in July, coach Karissa Dean says that schedule has been changed. 

“I’m usually spending the majority of my Mondays scrambling and calling the athletic director and calling the other coaches and trying to create a solution,” said Dean. 

Some members of the team feel this lack of access may be connected to a lack of recognition by the school. 

“Very rarely is [the dance team] in the emails from the school out to parents,” said Wendt.

She finds that there is more coverage of other sports in school affiliated media but that dance team competitions are often left out. 

The pandemic affected the size of the dance team, going from about 30 dancers to about 20, which Dean believes may be why it isn’t as recognized. 

“I think that we used to have a value at Lincoln and I don’t know if that value exists anymore,” said Dean. “Covid really changed the dance team world. We were a very large team previously.”

Dean previously coached the dance team at Benson. She acknowledged the culture of sports teams fosters friendly relationships between the coaches of the different teams. 

“I don’t think that that culture exists and I think there’s a culture issue at Lincoln where it’s “‘me first,’” said Dean.

While coaching at Benson, Dean did not encounter the practice scheduling issues that she has at Lincoln.

“[At Benson] I never had to fight for that right and now I feel like I spend a lot of my energy just reminding people that we exist and that we deserve space,” said Dean. 

The Cardinal Times sent multiple requests to Lincoln’s athletic director Jessica Russell for an interview. All attempts to schedule an interview fell through.