Despite an illness that kept the Lake Washington High School Dance Team’s head coach leading them from a hospital bed part of the season, the team kicked high and took first place in the 4A State Championship dance competition in Yakima March 28.
The team had put in well over 400 hours of practice since the team was formed last April, enduring a grueling early morning practice schedule and the sudden serious illness of their head coach, Lindsey Beck, 30 days prior to the state competition. Yet the poise, dedication and talent of this team paid off as they were awarded the title of State Champion in two categories, Drill and Pom, and second place in their third category, Kick.
In addition, Beck was awarded Coach of the Year by the WIAA, an honor bestowed by the other coaches in the state.
Competitive high school dance teams perform in six different categories with each team permitted to compete in up to three categories at any one competition. Lake Washington competes in the Drill, Pom and Kick categories. Drill is a precision oriented dance routine with a balanced mixture of dynamic moves, creativity, difficulty, and maximum visual effect. Pom is a dance routine designed to emphasize the utilization of poms, presenting synchronized formations performed with many dimensions. And Kick is a dance routine that presents a variety of kicks and effective floor patterning while demonstrating good upper body control and uniformity of kick height, with at least 50 percent of the routine being kicks. All of these disciplines require incredible endurance, dance skill, and athleticism. At the state competition, the 4A schools from all over the state fielded 73 different routines in the various categories.
Lindsey Beck has been building the competitive dance program at Lake Washington over the last four years and it has quickly become one of the most consistent and prestigious groups of its kind in Washington. The 2008-2009 team has won virtually all of the competitions it participated in over the past several months, to add to other awards from previous events earlier in the season.
But their year was not without serious challenges.
Nothing could prepare the girls to hear the devastating news that their 25-year-old coach had a tumor in her neck needing immediate spinal cord surgery. The doctors anticipated that she would be hospitalized for many weeks or months and in rehabilitation for a year or more, with no guarantees. However, Beck’s recovery goal was to walk into Yakima’s Sun Dome on March 28, 30 days after surgery, to watch her team compete in the State Championships.
During her weeks at Harborview Hospital, Beck lead the team from her hospital bed. Directly after surgery, she made a video of encouragement for her team. Assistant Coach Carrie Robeson took the coaching reins but kept Beck at the helm, reviewing videos of the girls with Beck as she lay in her hospital bed giving pep talks on a speaker phone from the hospital for each practice and watching competitions from a webcam hookup. Lindsey was an inspirational leader and her team worked hard to honor her personal efforts. After four weeks at Harbor View Hospital, Beck was discharged and two days later walked into the Sun Dome, leading her team to victory as State Champions.
With her dad on one side and Coach Robeson on the other, Beck walked the length of the Sun Dome to accept the Coach of the Year Award to a standing ovation.