The Franklin High School Dance Team wrapped up their first year last Saturday as they performed alongside Western Carolina University's Dance Team during the home game against UNC-Greensboro. With the first season down in the FHS history books, the first-ever dance team went from idea to success in just one year.
According to FHS Dance Team Coach Jennifer Turner-Lynn, she reached out to WCU's Dance Team last spring to solicit their help in starting a team at Franklin High School. “The WCU coaching staff and athletes have been instrumental in assisting Franklin in starting this dance program and have been wonderful about helping us with choreography and technique,” said Turner-Lynn.
The girls were able to see a culmination of the past year's sweat as they took to the court during half time of the WCU men's basketball game against UNC-Greensboro.
“FHS actually did a camp with WCU and as a part of that camp were given the opportunity to perform at the WCU game,” said Turner-Lynn. “We have been working hard on that dance since October.”
All the hard work paid off last weekend, which Turner-Lynn defines as being her proudest moment as a coach. “The minute they took the floor at WCU,” she said. “I felt like we had finally arrived, and I was so thankful that I had undertaken this journey. I want to take a minute to brag on the kids. While coaching plays some role in success, it is wholeheartedly the kids that really make a successful program. The kids wanted to start this program, and they did the work in making that dream become a reality.”
Not knowing what to expect when it started nearly a year ago, Turner-Lynn believes that the team's first season was far greater than she could have ever imagined. “I would say that the dance program has far exceeded my expectations for its first year,” she said. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this new program, but administration, parents, athletes, coaches, and the community have been very supportive in seeing us get off the ground.”
Turner-Lynn worked with FHS' coaching staff and other teams such as the FHS band and cheerleading squad to integrate the dance team into sporting events. The dance program was intended to supplement the already existing programs and to boost morale for all team sports at Franklin High School. “As far as the implementation at athletic events, I think that the coaching staff has been welcoming and receptive to seeing how we can complement their programs,” said Turner-Lynn. “I am excited to see us add additional volleyball matches next year, as well as football and basketball.”
In addition to performing at athletic events, the Franklin High Dance Team was the highlight of the Downtown Merchants and Venture Local Franklin's September StreetFest. The Dance Team took to the streets to perform for downtown shoppers before heading back to the high school to perform during the Smoky Mountain vs. Franklin football game.
The greatest challenge facing the dance program when it first began was finances. The girls stayed busy throughout the season fundraising and working to earn their spot alongside Franklin High School athletics.
“As a club, we receive zero funds from the school system or athletics, so we set fundraising goals to help us obtain the necessary items including uniforms and poms. We were also very blessed to have an anonymous donation made to the program that offset some of our expenses by as much a third,” said Turner- Lynn.
With the first season wrapped up, Turner-Lynn is already planning for the future, which she hopes will bring out new faces and allow the program to grow. “I would expect that we would have tryouts in early spring, and I feel confident that we will have a much larger tryout than last year,” she said. “If possible, we would love to continue our relationship with WCU as they have been instrumental in helping get us to this point.”