Photos by Anna Schmader / The Loquitur
Story by Pryce Jamison
The arena darkened, and the 76ers cleared the court. When screeching of sneakers stopped and the lights dimmed, a spotlight drew the fans’ attention to a different performance – Cabrini University’s Dance Team.
The Cabrini Dance Team took the stage performing during halftime at the 76ers game against the Chicago Bulls on Monday, March 7, at the Wells Fargo Center. Not only did the night result in a Sixers win, but it also highlighted a victorious accomplishment for Cabrini’s Dance team members who made their mark at a professional sporting event.
The night that had been heavily anticipated for months finally arrived as coach Nadya Gibson, Cabrini and dance team alumni, led her girls into action after much preparation.
After the highflying, floor-sliding performance, dance captains, Gabby Fernicola and Taylor Barker, spoke about their long journey and chemistry with the team that has shaped them the entire way.
“It’s good to see that all of our hard work and preparation has paid off, and can shine on a stage like this. Me and Taylor have strived to create a positive environment where we always hype each other up,” junior captain, Fernicola, said. “We steer away from being OK with saying ‘I can’t.’”
The team hopes the big night creates more opportunities and awareness of the work that goes into participating in these events, including the many practices and the constant risks to their bodies.
Fernicola emphasized this when sharing thoughts weeks prior to the game.
“When I hurt my knee one day during a routine, it was bothering me to the point where I needed someone to look at it so I went to the trainer, in which I was denied treatment and was told that the dance team isn’t considered a NCAA sport or a part of Cabrini athletics,” Fernicola said. “Therefore getting looked at by a trainer in the Dixon center isn’t allowed.”
This spills over into a larger debate about how the team doesn’t get funded like other sports, even though they are heavily involved in Cabrini sporting events and off campus endeavors.
The dance team has gone from just an involvement fair club, which was started by students from the ground up several years ago, to a big part of Cabrini’s athletics who participates heavily on and off campus. Their presence, and the way they are connecting with the community, seems to be about much more than just being like any other club at Cabrini.
One can easily side with the argument of the NCAA and say that rules are rules and that it doesn’t make sense for the dance team to get funding and treatment from athletic trainers. The passion they put in, long hours of going over routines and heavy presence at this institution says otherwise.
Even with the cheerleaders who don’t have access to such services either, both clubs are integral to the sports and culture at any college, especially when basketball season comes around on this campus as well as other external opportunities that we see both clubs take part in.
This halftime performance is just another monumental example of how more room can potentially be made for granting such privileges to the clubs. In the eyes of many, they should both be considered a collegiate sport.
Reevaluating this could potentially help clubs like the dance team and cheerleaders perform at its highest level and be the best they can be, while having support from the athletic department financially.
One can start to see the importance in this topic when keeping in mind that the team is far from done and will continue to think outside the box.
“In terms of near future work, we’re planning on doing an end of the year showcase, Lacrosse games, more campus ran events and participating in competitions such as the Ms. Philadelphia competition that’s coming up,” senior captain, Barker, said.
“It’s truly something special when a group of people share a passion when committing to a specific activity and goal.”