Wins are becoming routine for Raiders dance team


February 26, 2002|By Debra Taylor Young | Debra Taylor Young,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE SYKESVILLE Raiders Competition Squad All-Star Dance Team earns its title of "all-stars" each time the group competes.

The team, consisting of four squads, competed in the American Cheer and Dance Academy's fifth annual Reach the Beach competition at the Ocean City Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday. The event attracted competitors from across Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region.

After competing in many national and local competitions, and performing at last year's Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, the dance team has built a solid reputation in the world of competitive dance. It consistently places in every category it competes in, according to Laura Lindberg, whose daughter Marie, 12, is a member of the junior squad.

In Clinton this month, the junior and senior squads competed against high school dance teams, and won three first-place and three second-place awards. The squads were highly praised in written remarks from judges.

The dance team began in 1995 as a competitive cheerleading team, the Sykesville Raiders Cheerleaders, under the direction of Sarah Mandella. Mandella started with 15 girls. They did well in competitions, but liked dance more than conventional cheerleading.

Emily Rife joined Mandella as a coach two years later with her daughter Amanda participating on the squad. Rife, who has a background in dance and choreography, added dance to the performances, then reorganized the group with Mandella as director, and formed the SRCS All-Star Dance Team.

The group includes all ages, with a pee-wee squad, grade four and younger; youth squad, grade six and younger; junior squad, grade nine and younger; and senior squad, grade 12 and younger.

"We will soon be graduating our first group of girls," Mandella said.

Her daughter Kristin, Amanda Eakle, Amanda Blustein, Ashley Jones, all 16, Jessy Powell, 17, and Hayley Cain, 15, attend Liberty High School. All but Hayley will make up the first group to "graduate" from the team.

According to Rife, the graduates of the dance team will have opportunities in many colleges where dance teams are part of the athletic offering. She is looking into colleges and scholarship opportunities for them.

The group's results in the Reach the Beach competition were impressive: The pee-wee squad took home two first-place awards, the youth squad also won two first-place awards, the junior squad earned first- and second-place awards, and the senior squad earned first-, second- and third-place awards.

In individual competitions, Amanda Rife, in the junior squad, placed second, and Amanda Johnson, in the youth squad, placed third.

In addition to the team's awards, coach Rife received the American Spirit Award, Coach of the Year, for her "outstanding contribution to dance."

Rife credited the success of the SRCS Dance Team to the hard work and talent of the girls, but also to her coaching staff: Jamie Powell, Carol Kavoukas, Laurie Wendler, Debbie Roskovendky, Krista Alexander and Pam Beghtol.

"A dedicated and united coaching staff makes all the difference in the world," she said.

The dance team is making plans to participate in this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

Tree-growing seminar

Piney Run Nature Center at Piney Run Park will serve as host for a seminar, "Growing Native Trees and Shrubs," from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. tomorrow at the center off Martz Road.

The seminar, to be led by Steven Allgeier from the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, will help participants learn which trees require minimal care and attract many bird species.

New homeowners are encouraged to attend the free program.

Information: 410-795-6043.

Debra Taylor Young's neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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