Hoban Dance Team: Dancing like no one’s watching

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Hoban Dance Team: Dancing like no one’s watching

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Akron OH— The Hoban Dance Team (HDT) only has two minutes during football games to bust their moves and shock the crowd. Two minutes packed with adrenaline-rushing music, impressive dance moves and an intensity that leaves half of the crowd “oooh-ing and ahh-ing” while the rest join in the hip-lockin’ and poppin’.

Just as the Hoban football team rose out of the ashes four years ago, HDT has also created a name for itself. Without a band and a disappearing drum-line, HDT stepped up to the plate, and, consequently, stole the hearts of many and has never looked back.

“To be honest, I only come to the football games to watch HDT,” senior Emily Merle said. “That and, well, Nolan.”

Most students would agree with Merle, it was love at first sight.

But current students cannot recall a time without HDT— they have nothing to compare the rags-to-riches story to. Most are not even aware that HDT existed before Aug. 2015. Those who knew the pre-Golden Age dance team have graduated, closed the yearbook even.

So, to the surprise of many, they very well did exist— just not with the status they hold now. This begs the question: how exactly did HDT rise to fame? How did they become the dance team we all know and love?

One factor that ignited the fame is senior Brady Rowan.

“At first, it was scary being the only guy,” Rowan said. “But then they welcomed me with open arms and it’s history from there.”

Rowan started his HDT career as a freshman with the iconic “Whip and Nay-Nay” dance in Aug. 2015. Immediately, HDT shook the stands.

“Once I stepped onto the field for the first time, I knew I was part of something bigger,” Rowan said.

Senior Alaina Merlitti adds: “We hit the whip and then it skyrocketed from there.”

Both freshmen at the time, Rowan and Merlitti credit this trendy, hit song as the bait that drew people away from their concession stand excursions to the new hot-spot for halftime: the fence.

Yet, it was more than just the music that struck students.

“I see his [Rowan’s] passion on the field,” Nick Sack said. “I can tell that he really loves what he does, and this snowballs into the whole team—they are just all so good.”

Rowan’s energy affected each dancer; suddenly the moves became more intense and riveting. This second factor—new cohesive and engaging techniques—transferred the once quiet group to a much-anticipated team.

The third and final factor stems from the global phenomenon of “Dance Moms.” Strange as it may seem, the television series exploded the world of dance— and Hoban’s world, too.

“Dance became a more prominent way to express yourself,” Merlitti said. “As a freshman, I witnessed the whole dynamic of the team change. Seniors at the time noticed us freshmen bringing something new to the table and our coach drilled each techniques until it was perfect. Dance started being taken seriously.”

And serious it was. Practices were twice a week for two hours. No longer was HDT just a filler for halftime, it was now the Halftime Pepsi Super Bowl show.

“When the crowd chants ‘HDT,’ their energy floods into me and it fuels me to perform at my best,” Merlitti said.

“It’s quite surreal how much fun it is,” Rowan said. “HDT has shaped who I am today and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

With these three factors, HDT brought its spunk and tenacity to the field where it was finally appreciated— whipping their way to stardom.