BOUNTIFUL – It’s not easy being the best of the best.
The Bountiful High Drill Team, which has won more state titles than any other drill team in Utah, will defend their title this Friday at Utah Valley University. The team, which took region and will fight for their 17th state win, knows that the battle won’t be easy.
“People in other states always talk about how high the talent is in Utah and how amazing the teams are,” said Bountiful High coach Jan Whittaker. “The talent just keeps raising the bar. Every year, you have to come up with something new and different.”
One advantage Bountiful has in that area is the ability of their team members to dance on point. This year, the technique will come up in the team’s character routine, and Whittaker expects it to give them an edge over their competitors.
“We’re the only team in the state who dances on point,” she said.
Winning a drill team competition is far more complicated than just one technique, however. Teams are judged in three categories Р military, dance and a third category that rotates between kick and this year’s character routine.
“The military category is all about precision and timing,” said Whittaker. “It has its start in military maneuvering, and everything has to be perfectly in unison.”
The dance category is more jazz-focused, with more leaps and lifts, while the character category requires dancers to bring certain characters to life. This year, teams will dramatize the lives of insects.
“We have butterflies, spiders and grasshoppers,” she said.
At the recent Region 6 championships, Bountiful took first place in both military and character and second place in dance. If they win state, it will be their sixth state title in a row. The team’s longest streak, attained years ago when Whittaker also served as the team’s coach, is 10 wins.
“We’re trying to get another run going,” Whittaker said.
This year, she is technically serving as the team’s co-coach, splitting duties with former assistant and drill team member Malorie Allred. Assistant coach Angie Bohn also helps the team members through the work it takes to participate in high school’s only year-round sport.
“We’re preparing all year,” Whittaker said. “We work really hard, like they do in other sports. It’s just a lot longer.”
With that level of effort, keeping team members healthy can be a challenge all on its own.
“We had a girl who broke her wrist the day before region,” she said. “She performed with a broken wrist, but we don’t want that to happen again.”
Currently, the team is working on polishing up their routines in preparation to wow audiences on Friday.
“Drill team performances are really exciting and athletic,” said Whittaker. “It’s really fun to watch, and nothing like you’ll see anywhere else.”