Lionettes prepare for nationals

zombie lionettes

Members of the Lionettes dance team join the Spirit of the Southland Marching Band
for a Halloween-themed halftime show at the Homecoming football game versus
the Central Arkansas Bears.  The Lion’s Roar / Fernanda Chagas

At many sporting events, the atmosphere is fueled by the determination of the home team and the spirit of their fans. The Lionettes dance team helps increase Lion spirit by performing with the Spirit of the Southland Marching Band, firing up fans in the stands and representing the university in national dance competitions. 

According to Alumni Association Director Kathy Pittman, the Lionettes have been a part of Lion spirit on campus since at least 1939. Pittman was a member of the dance team during her time as a student in 1967-68. 

“It was a great time,” said Pittman. “It made me learn how to do teamwork and made me love my Alma Mater. Even today, I keep in touch with some of my teammates.” 

According to spirit coordinator Paige Lapeyrouse, this year the Lionettes are made up of 17 female students. They went through try-outs in the spring and are currently on scholarship with the program. 

“I love my team,” said Haley Porter, a freshman nursing major who joined the Lionettes this year. “I like making new friends, and I have 16 sisters that I’ve never had.”

Porter had been a member of the dance team when she attended Denham Springs High School, but being on a college dance team was always her dream.

“It was like a dream come true,” said Porter. “I’ve always wanted to be on a college dance team. This one’s way more advanced. We compete here. I didn’t compete in high school for my team.”

For senior marketing major Olivia Marceaux, coming back to the Lionettes for a fifth year was an easy decision. She said her favorite thing about being a Lionette is the special bond formed between the teammates. 

 “These girls are like my family,” said Marceaux. “I spend hours upon hours a week with them, so I guess it’s natural to have that close-knit relationship. We get along so well this year, and in a group of 17 plus girls, that’s rare. Normally with girls, there’s that cattiness, but we don’t have that, and I think it’s great.” 

According to Lapeyrouse, the Lionettes started off as a drill team, but have evolved over the years. The first priority of the Lionettes is to take care of anything involving athletics, campus and community involvement that the university needs. The dance team adds to the game day atmosphere, regardless of the sport being played.  

“I love basketball games,” said Marceaux. “I don’t know what it is. I think because it’s more fast-paced than football. And being on the court, being right next to the action, I really like basketball games.”

Aside from sports, the ladies also have the opportunity to compete in the national dance competition put on by the Universal Dance Association. Each year, the Southeastern spirit groups attend the College Cheerleaders and Dance Team National Championship competition at the Disney World Resort in Orlando. Porter and Marceaux expressed excitement over the upcoming competition, which will be held Jan. 31 through Feb. 1, 2015. 

In the past, the Lionettes have brought home national titles in both categories. The girls are currently working on their jazz and hip-hop routines for the competition during practice three days a week, and they will continue to work on their routines through the semester and winter break. Marceaux describes competing at Nationals the past four years as a rollercoaster. 

“We were in the top 10 my freshman year,” said Marceaux. “Then the next year, we broke top five, and then the next year top three, so it’s kind of been escalating toward that first place spot. We haven’t gotten there yet, but I feel like this is the year we’re going to do that. We’re all really excited, and we’re working toward that goal of first place.”

Last year the Lionettes’ Jazz number earned them third place in their division in addition to a second place position for their Hip Hop routine. 

“That’s what brought me back for a fifth year,” said Marceaux. “I want to go and have Southeastern’s name across my chest on my uniform and show the other dance teams across the nation that Louisiana has something to offer. [For the] majority of the time in our category, you have schools from New York and California, places where dance is prominent. No one expects us out of Louisiana.” 

In order to be selected for the Lionettes dance team, students must be enrolled full-time, maintain good academic standards and learn routines such as the Fight Song. Try outs will be held in the late spring.