Knightingales dance to victory

Print Article

Members of Beloit Memorial High School’s pom pons squad, the Knightingales, started the school year with no money and little support but ended the year by earning two trophies at a competition in Illinois.

Photo provided by Michelle Hendrix-Nora

With no money, no uniforms and little support, two Beloit Memorial High alumnae began the 2008-09 year with the hope of forming a pom pons squad that would restore the spirit they once felt at the school.

After a season of performing at boys basketball games, the Knightingales traveled to Waukegan, Ill., about a week ago for their first competition. They walked away with two trophies and a chance to compete for a national title.

“For the first year to accomplish that,” coach Michelle Hendrix-Nora said, “we're proud of them.”

Hendrix-Nora, a second-year special education teacher at BMHS, and her sister Regina Hendrix, a substitute teacher working toward a master's degree, decided about a year ago to form the squad because the school had a similar program when they were students in the mid 1990s.

“It seemed like the spirit was lost, and we wanted to help bring it back,” Hendrix-Nora said.

The sisters agreed to work together because they feed off each other's talents and abilities.

“We said we wouldn't take on this task without each other,” Hendrix-Nora said.

They wanted to create something more than athletes, though.

They wanted to mold the girls into good citizens since they will need talents other than dancing once they leave high school.

So, throughout the year, the squad participated in community service projects, such as a Toys for Tots drive and painting knight heads on the school's sidewalks for homecoming.

Because the group had no funding, the girls raised money through bake sales and donations, but some of the costs - about $300 per girl - came from their own pockets. Those on the squad's related step team had to pay extra.

Practices were held for about two hours after school Mondays through Fridays in addition to some weekends.

Of the dozens of girls initially interested in the squad, nine remain.

“It's been fun, complicating and tiring,” 16-year-old freshman Amirra Hughes said, noting the dedication has been worth it. “It's not something I didn't want to do.”

While dealing with each other's attitudes gets hectic at times, junior Domonique Gullens, 16, said she stayed with the squad because the girls always work through tough patches.

“And I love to dance, and I'm not going to let anyone take that away from me,” she said.

With uniforms purchased at Wal-Mart, the squad cheered during boys basketball games and performed during half time.

But, Athletic Director Mark Smullen said, it wasn't until a pep assembly for African American History Month that the squad first became distinguished as a group here to stay.

“They just blew the roof off the place,” he said.

The Knightingales entered the Applause Talent Competition this month as rookies and faced off against girls from dance academies.

“They were kind of shocked to see a high school there,” Hendrix-Nora said.

Furthermore, she said, about 99 percent of the other teams were Caucasian - a stark contrast to Beloit's black squad.

“That in itself was different,” she said.

The squad received High Gold - the second best recognition - in two categories: small group and hip hop/other.

Because of funding and the girls' summer plans, the coaches are unsure whether the group will compete at the national competition, also in Waukegan, in June.

Print Article

Read More Local News

Harlem-Roscoe firefighters plan annual spring dinner fundraiser

April 18, 2019 at 9:17 am | ROSCOE - Everyone's invited to the Harlem-Roscoe Firefighter's 61st Annual Spring Dinner to reconnect with neighbors, support firefighters and contribute to a good cause. "It's a fun neighborhood g...

Comments

Read More

Hospice center asks for volunteers

April 18, 2019 at 9:17 am | BELOIT - Volunteers looking to provide quality of life care for patients and their caregivers will have their chance. Beloit Regional Hospice is planning its volunteer training program from 9 a.m. ...

Comments

Read More

County celebrates 911 call takers

April 18, 2019 at 9:17 am | JANESVILLE - A small group of Rock County employees work day in and day out to be the calming voice on the other end of the phone during emergencies, and an effort is underway to recognize their cont...

Comments

Read More

Police: Incident left man with gunshot wound

April 18, 2019 at 9:17 am | JANESVILLE - Janesville police are investigating an incident where a man suffered a gunshot wound to his hand. Police were called to a residence in the 400 block of North Terrace at about 1:03 a.m. ...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(608) 365-8811
149 State Street
Beloit, WI 53511

©2019 Beloit Daily News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X