Wildcats Invite donations near and far

With the end of football season, the Wildcat dance squad has finally turned its attention to the competition campaign. With this focus they hosted the Oshkosh West Dance Invitational, which was held just a few weeks ago during the first weekend of January. With over 30 teams invading the halls of West, some setup and leadership became necessary for the Wildcats. Junior Sarah Lairson understands the importance of the invitational for the hosts.

“We’re responsible for everyone that’s here and we’re responsible to keep up the reputation of West and make our school look good,” she said.

Required to set up the event and direct other teams, Alex Ballwanz, senior varsity dancer, took leadership throughout the day of the competition to be sure West’s reputation was kept at a high standard.

“I spent the day checking to make sure all of the teams were able to find their way around the hallways and checking to make sure the hallways were clean to make a good impression on other teams,” she said.

With the long hours that accompany dance competitions, each team was designated a classroom to spend time in before their competitions which the girls had to prepare and clean up.

“Most rooms in the school are set up for teams to have throughout the day to stretch, hang out, and get ready for competition in because there’s a lot of down time throughout the day,” Christina Rabe, senior varsity dancer, said.

The team not only put work into the competition, but also greatly benefitted from it as well.

“We made $15,289 from the competition after other expenses were taken out, which is the most we have ever made from the competition,” Rabe said.

This main fundraiser for the Wildcats proved extremely successful and will assist them not only throughout the rest of this year, but next year as well. Tatum Malnory, senior varsity dancer, understands the importance of this fundraiser.

“This money will go towards new costumes and poms which are needed for this season, and towards new dance shoes and shirts for the team,” she said. “We also use some of that money to help put on the competition next year.”

With the many expenses that come with being on a high school sports team, especially for the dance team families, this fundraiser helps pay for the high cost of competition.

“We get new costumes and we need to pay for bus fares because we go to a lot of competitions,” Lairson said. “We have to pay for all the food for this weekend and all of the other things that we have to buy for this competition.”

The annual competition has proved the most successful sports fundraiser at West since its first year. Dance competitions require many expenses that teams at other sporting competitions do not need to pay, making it more successful than other teams’ fundraisers.

“We have the biggest fundraiser of any sport at West because dance competitions  require an entrance fee and we bring in over 30 teams for this weekend,” Malnory said. “Along with this, concessions is supplied with things we made ourselves.”

Besides fundraising for the team, however, the girls also focused on generating revenue for those in the community. The girls were able to hold two fundraising events throughout the day, one being Pennies for Pirouettes organized by Rabe for her Global Academy capstone project.

“I put on a penny war between the 33 teams in attendance and I kept the competition going throughout the day at the dance competition,” Rabe said.

With generous teams, parents, and team members, Rabe managed to raise a vast amount of money for those in need, while also teaching others about the situation of those abroad.

“I was able to raise $365 for a school called El Centro Juan Pablo II,” Rabe said. “That money will more specifically be going to their dance program and circulated into their money for the school, which is for kids who can’t afford an education or after school activities.”

By teaching others about this community abroad, Rabe was able to widen the views and cultural understandings of the teams at the competition, educating them along with helping others. The Wildcats also hosted a “Spread the Warmth” campaign to collect winter clothing for students in the Oshkosh community.

“We collected enough winter clothing to have big paper grocery bags full of warm stuff for every elementary and middle school in the district,” Ballwanz said. “They send out an email to all elementary schools and see who is in need, and we provide them with the clothing these kids really need.”

With volunteer work setting the precedent for the competition, the teams were not only able to compete in their athletics, but also competed to see who could raise the most money and collect the most clothing for others in the community, receiving an award for their generosity. Malnory thinks this is the most important part of the competition in the end, especially when the community gives so much to them and students around the area.

“We thought it would be nice to have the teams compete in another way than just through dancing and really give back to those who need it,” she said.

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