In April, the Carolina Girls dance team placed first in the 2021 National Dance Alliance National Team Division I-A Finals. Three of these national champions, Abigail Delnoce (Computer Science), Conner Johnson (Biomedical Engineering) and Morgan Paschal (Chemical Engineering) are students in the College of Engineering and Computing.
We sat down with them to learn more about their experiences, both in the CEC and this season with the Carolina Girls.
What has your time in the CEC been like?
Conner: Engineering is obviously very challenging, and I love being in a major that does challenge me intellectually. There are also many opportunities that are available to me, including research and internships.
Morgan: The college has been amazing. I really enjoyed the professors; they really like to reach out and help, especially because sometimes I get busy, and I might not know what's happening in class. They're always there to help me. I also do research on computational optimization with Dr. Gatzke and that was one of the biggest opportunities I've gotten out of the CEC because that's opened a lot of doors for me to get internships.
How do you strike a balance between a difficult major and on-campus activities like Carolina Girls?
Morgan: Time management has been something I have learned over my many years of dancing, even back in high school. But college is a totally different ball game because you have so much more free time, so it’s easy to get distracted. Between my classes, I really try to spend the time at the library so I can sit down and really zone in and focus so I can do stuff at night, like practice.
What’s it like to dance with the Carolina Girls?
Conner: It has been the best experience of my life, hands down. I wouldn't trade it for the world. From dancing in front of 80,000 people at football games to getting the dance on the court at basketball games and doing it all alongside my best friends. I couldn't have asked for a better group of girls to go through these four years of college with.
What was this season like? What obstacles did the pandemic pose?
Abigail: This year was like no other. We had weekly testing that we had to do. We had a chunk of time where we couldn't practice but we overcame those obstacles. Our seniors took a big leadership role and our coaches were really great leaders as well because we just had to go with the flow. I will say this year we had a very cohesive team and we just were really a tight-knit group and I think that's what helped lead us to our national championship.
Looking back on this season, what did your team focus on going into nationals?
Conner: Because of the limitations that we had because of COVID, the main priority of our team was to have a positive family dynamic and that is exactly what we had. We love each other, and that positive attitude that we had throughout the entire season and that bond that we created was definitely carried through nationals and it definitely spoke to our success.
How did the team feel going into Nationals and what was that experience like?
Abigail: We had a fire for sure. We always started practice with our championship mentality. Did we know were going to win? I guess you never know, but we were preparing ourselves and we were doing everything in our power to win. This year we just did everything in our power to make sure that we had the best routine that we possibly could.
Morgan: Nationals is always my favorite part because I love competing and I love showing people what we love to do. Obviously, you see our sideline part of our dance team, but this competition side is what we have all grown up doing and what really drives us. Personally, it drives me - the feeling of winning. I just can't even describe it.