Competitive dance team formerly known as the ‘Flamettes’ joining Club Sports this fall
Liberty University’s Club Sports department announced this week the addition of the Liberty Flamettes, founded in 2017 as a student-run club, as its 44th program starting this fall semester, when the spirit team that performs at Liberty’s men’s and women’s basketball and football games will debut as a competitive dance team.
“They already have a very strong culture, and organizationally, they had a lot in place, so it won’t be a huge transition,” Club Sports Associate Athletic Director Kyle McQuillan said. “They don’t have a head coach, but have had students serving as club officers who have come up with their own choreography and done all the administrative tasks themselves. As a Club Sport, we will be giving them a chance to be competitive, making their culture as a team even stronger. It is a big step for them, and they’re excited about it.”
The 21 current team members, including three captains who were selected after tryouts in April, will benefit from becoming affiliated with the university as they will have the opportunity to travel to represent Liberty at competitions, culminating in the Jan. 13-15, 2023 Universal Dance Association (UDA) College Nationals, aired on ESPN from the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., or the NCA Cheer and NDA Dance College Nationals, set for April 5-9 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
As a competitive dance program, the Flamettes’ name and uniforms will have to change to reflect the official affiliation with Liberty and be branded with its Athletics and Club Sports logo.
The team, which will likely continue to practice in the dance studio located in the LaHaye Recreation & Fitness Center, must host a four-day dance summer training camp offered by either the UDA or NDA, likely by mid-September, in order to be eligible to compete at those organizations’ national championships in the spring semester.
Emma Freeze, a rising senior captain who is a niece of Flames Football Head Coach Hugh Freeze, expressed her enthusiasm over the program joining Club Sports. She said that opportunity to compete nationally will inject added spirit and fresh fire into the program.
“For all of our girls, this has been the dream and motivation these past three years to get to this point,” Freeze said. “Everyone will be super excited and motivated, and our training as a whole will intensify. Being a spirit team is what we love, and what we are here to do, but it will be super exciting to train for a national competition and competing against other college dance teams around the country.”
Besides continuing to appear at Athletics events, the squad may perform during intermissions at select ACHA Division I men’s hockey home games in the LaHaye Ice Center and men’s indoor volleyball games played at the Liberty Arena.
“We don’t want to take away what they present to the football and basketball programs, but we are hoping to create more opportunities throughout the year, and to find ways for them to compete against other colleges,” McQuillan said. “We will be able to help maximize their efforts and opportunities with assistance from an administrative standpoint, allowing the girls to focus on their sport.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Club Sports Athletic Director Kirk Handy joined McQuillan and Associate Athletic Director and Senior Women’s Administrator Tatiana Payne in a meeting with team representatives, including Freeze and fellow captains Madison Cruzan and Karson Harrell, to establish direction moving forward. McQuillan said finding a head coach, one who is not a current student or team member, will be the first order of business. Freeze and the other captains appreciated having the opportunity to offer their input into the search process.
“Last year was our first year performing at football games, which was a great opportunity that Athletics allowed us to have,” Freeze said. “Moving to Club Sports this year … we have absolutely been blessed by the Lord and Athletics and Club Sports and it is really amazing for the program. Getting a coach and being funded by our university and having an opportunity to prepare all year to compete in Florida, wearing Liberty’s logo, is super exciting as we have never been able to travel to perform at any Liberty games before.”
Freeze wouldn’t be surprised if the team holds another tryout to build up the roster with newcomers eager to perform in competitive dance events. If so, she said team members would be selected based not only on how gifted they are as dancers, but how well they represent the university as ambassadors for Christ.
“Some people don’t really understand that you can dance for the glory of the Lord and still point back to Him,” Freeze said. “Dance is a great platform to represent Liberty and Christ, and that is something we’re really looking forward to doing, specifically at nationals, where we will hopefully look different, because that’s what we’re called to do.”
The Flamettes, who infuse hip-hop, poms, and dance into their routines, have tried to model their program after D-Trex, Liberty’s hip-hop dance ministry team that has participated in evangelistic outreaches.
“With dance, just being able to move in a way that is glorifying to God — in the way that D-Trex does, instead of what hip-hop can be — that has been our main motivation and we really admire them for that,” Freeze said.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer