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Kodiak High School Dance Team returns from performing at college football game

(Courtesy of Sarah Nugent)
(Courtesy of Sarah Nugent)

The Kodiak High School Dance Team recently got back from a performance in front of tens of thousands of people. The dancers were part of a pregame and halftime show at a college football bowl game between the University of Wisconsin Badgers and the Louisiana State University Tigers in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Sarah Nugent is the head coach of the Kodiak Dance Team and has worked with the students for about a decade. About five years ago, she said she made contact with a group that organizes performances at college football games.

“In 2019, we decided to bring a camp to us because it was cheaper than trying to fly everybody out of state to attend summer camp,” she said.

The dance team decided to find someone from out of state and contacted Just For Kix, a company that helps plan dance camps and sells dance attire. Nugent said after they got in contact, the owner, Cindy Clough, decided to visit Kodiak herself.

“When she heard that we wanted to do a home camp here in Alaska, rather than send employees, she decided to come herself because she had never been to Alaska,” Nugent said. “So she came and brought one of her current dancers on her team and her daughter.”

Nugent said Clough and her team were so impressed, they invited the dancers to perform at a collegiate pregame and halftime show in the winter of 2019. But flights are expensive, so they pushed it back to 2020 to give themselves more time to fundraise.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and delayed travel once again.

Reagan Deemer is a high school senior, and the captain of the Kodiak Dance Team. She said they were supposed to travel to perform at a college football game last winter.

“We’re like ‘Alright guys this is a new record. We did it – we’re actually at the airport,’” Deemer said.

But then a blizzard in Seattle canceled several flights in the lower-48 that would have prevented them from getting to a performance, so they didn’t make it out of Kodiak.

“Last year they canceled it [the flight] the day before,” she said. “They gave us another chance to go, like we were able to leave, (but) we were all either unpacked or we were all in the middle of doing things like showering and things like that, that we were not able to just get up and run.”

Kodiak’s dance team tried again in December over the students’ winter break, and made it to Florida in time to do eight days of training and explore the city.

Deemer said they got to perform with hundreds of other high schoolers from around the country.

“It was definitely inspiring because I was able to match skill level with some people,” she said. “And you’re also never going to see these people again so our confidence was like, definitely boosted.”

They performed a pre-game show and the halftime show in front of an audience of over 30,000 people.

The kids attended a dinner cruise, visited several theme parks, and spent New Year’s Eve together. Nugent said they tried to strike a balance between preparing for a huge production with the other students as well as enjoying their trip.

“It was definitely a work hard/play hard kind of trip,” Nugent said. “And so we would go and do our rehearsal, and then we’d have the afternoon at Clearwater Beach to explore, or we’d go and do our rehearsal and we got the afternoon at Busch Gardens.”

The Kodiak Dance Team is now celebrating its 40th year of working with the island’s students. Nugent said she’s grateful for the community’s support over the years and that she’s hoping to plan more big trips soon.

Videos of the Pregame and Halftime shows are available on Facebook.

Nugent noted this trip was some of the students’ first time at a major theme park. (Courtesy of Sarah Nugent)
Nugent noted this trip was some of the students’ first time at a major theme park. (Courtesy of Sarah Nugent)
(Courtesy of Sarah Nugent)
(Courtesy of Sarah Nugent)