Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are all living in uncertain times.
When will school return? When will sports return? When will our typical day-to-day lives return?
One local high school step team has met the challenge head on and plans to be fully prepared for the eventual return of school and sports.
The St. Joseph H.S., Downtown Brooklyn, varsity step team has continued practicing despite not being able to meet in-person. Instead the team conducts its routine workouts using the video conferencing platform Zoom.
The team had been gearing up for its main competition right before school went on hiatus. The competition is the culminating event of the GCHSAA step season, so there’s been no letdown in the intensity the steppers have shown through the online workouts.
“We usually have practice Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so we try to keep the same schedule,” said head coach Nichole Prime, who founded the team in 2007 while she was a sophomore at the school. “I like Zoom because I’m able to see all of them at the same time. I tell them you have to be dressed and ready as if you’re at practice.
“I want 100 percent because that’s what builds character. No matter what’s happening, you’re not just a stepper when you perform; you’re a stepper 24/7.”
The 12-member team has embraced how this form of technology allows them to stay sharp. They appreciate that it creates a sense of normalcy, since their whole world has been shifted upside down during this time.
The team’s routine portrays the message of having the faith to be a conqueror no matter what happens. That message carries a two-fold meaning for St. Joe’s, since not only is the team dealing with coronavirus uncertainty, but the school is also slated to permanently close at the end of the year. Part of each Zoom practice involves the team members talking about what this message means to them.
Prime also makes use of what she calls a “spotlight,” in which she calls out a stepper’s name on the Zoom call to perform a specific move. She’s able to provide feedback in the moment, and then it’s the next stepper’s turn. At the end of the meeting, the team performs the full five-minute routine and syncs up as best as possible given the circumstances.
The team also makes use of the social media platform TikTok. Prime sends out challenges for each stepper to send back, and she then compiles the clips into one master video so it looks like the team is stepping in unison together.
“They come on, and they’re full energy and ready to work,” said Prime, also the dean of students at St. Joseph. “Even though we have a setback, we’re going to make it work for us.”
The team members realize that staying ready will ensure they can give one final showstopping performance when the moment comes. Challenging themselves during this time will prove essential when things are up and running once again.
“It’s extremely important because we could go back tomorrow for all we know, so we have to keep up with the routine,” said senior team captain Zoie Guity. “It shows that everyone is still dedicated even going through this misfortune. We are still one despite all that’s going on.”
“The workouts that coach has us doing…they’re not easy,” said senior team captain Cameron Young. “If we do have competition, competitions aren’t easy, so we do have to make sure we’re prepared. If we’re sitting on the couch and doing nothing, how are we supposed to be prepared for competition?”
Jumping on a Zoom call and engaging in a team workout is just one way a diocesan sports team is keeping alive hope during the pandemic. In fact, the step team considers themselves carriers of hope in the face of adversity.
“A lot of us have the idea that we’ll still be able to come back and do what we’ve been working on,” Prime said. “Even if it’s in July, we’re going to get together, and we’re going to do this routine the way it’s supposed to be.”
Despite what’s going on, somehow and someway high school sports are continuing in this diocese as we all patiently await a true return to normalcy.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.