Simply golden

The Golden Girls have been a part of MU since 1957, when they were added to the band as a twirling line. Since then the group has evolved into an independent dance team of high renown.

The girls have had a terrific year and won the national championship at the United Spirit Association Collegiate Nationals Feb. 9 and 10 in Las Vegas. It was the third such championship for the team, which won its previous two in 1991 and 1992.

Coach Shannon Fry was a member of both previous championship squads as a dancer, but said this victory was her favorite.

"It's always great to win, but this one was a little bit better getting to actually see them accomplish their goals," she said. "It was a completely different feeling. It was awesome, they worked so hard."

The team began working on its routine for nationals early this year, getting started in November. Fry added that the early start, along with the involvement of Los Angeles-based choreographer Eric Little were the main reasons for the team's success.

"I contacted a guy who had been successful the last couple years with other teams and I just did my best to get him in here," Fry said. "We were lucky enough to get him to come and get great music. He's super-creative, and he just worked really well with the girls and catered to their talent. That makes a big difference."

Team members said they hope the championship will bring more respect to their sport and to everything they do at MU.

Co-captain Julie Yoakum, a junior communications major, said it is frustrating that many students don't understand how hard the team works.

"We do a lot more than just dance at games," she said. "They think we just do the fight song. We do promotions on Saturdays, we help recruit for the football team, we go home and sell tickets for all the games, and we have practices four times a week trying to win national championships. You know, there's a lot more than basketball games, and people don't see that" therefore they don't respect all the time and effort we put into Golden Girls."

As much as they contribute, the Golden Girls are not offered scholarships. In fact, each girl on the team must pay a $300 fee to cover expenses. Because there are no scholarships, Fry is relatively unable to recruit and has to wait for girls to come to her.

Fry said she wouldn't have it any other way.

"Girls who come to school at Mizzou need to come here because they want to go to school at Mizzou," she said. "I don't just want them coming here so they can be a Golden Girl. I want them to make the choice."

Junior Kim Still said her ability to contribute and the social rewards she has gotten for being a part of the group keep her involved.

"I feel like I've contributed to Mizzou," she said "I feel like I've done something as a part of the university instead of just going here and not really participating. It'll be nice to be able to say in 20 years or so that I traveled to Big 12 tournaments and NCAA tournaments and made this group of friends, and won nationals. It's an awesome experience."

Still, a journalism major from Colorado, is one of only two Golden Girls from out of state.

Fry explained that because the Golden Girls participate in activities almost year-round, it is difficult for out-of-state members to see their families, and that may be the reason why most of the girls hail from Missouri.

Meanwhile, with their competitive season over and the basketball season drawing to a close, the girls have begun tryouts for next year. Fry said having such a successful and young team ' including six juniors and six freshmen ' makes her optimistic about the future.

"We'll probably have a high return number at tryouts," she said. "But everyone still has to try out like everyone else. No one's spot is secure."

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