Dancing for a cause


credit: https://www.tigertv.tv/sports/lsu-tiger-girls-national-championship-ignites-tiktok-phenomena/article_f11d2234-82c5-11ec-9624-5ff89da3f89d.html

Though they were denied their chance at the Univeral Dance Association (UDA) College Nationals in 2021, supposedly due to COVID-19 regulations, the Louisiana State University (LSU) dance team dedicated their days and nights to improving their skills to return and seize an inspiring win at the 2022 competition.  

‘Like a Boy’ was curated and choreographed specifically for this team and all other female athletes who have been neglected in relation to their male counterparts (…) Our choreographers, Carsen Rowe and Sammy McFadden, were passionate about creating this routine for the positive message behind the empowerment of the female athletes in the dance industry, as well as for the recognition of dance as a collegiate sport with deserving student athletes,’” Payton Ibos, assistant head coach for the LSU Tiger Girls, said. 

The UDA College Nationals is one of the biggest competitions for dancers across America. While participating in Nationals is impressive on its own, achieving a title is a major accomplishment, and the LSU Tiger Girls did just that with their ‘Like a Boy’ routine on Jan. 16, 2022. This win was especially big for the team after the college originally told them they could not go to the 2021 competition because of COVID-19, though the coach and many of the team members claim these regulations were not the only reason. A lack of trainers, a limited budget, and the college’s idea of dance not being a sport was said to be the biggest influencers when they decided not to let the team attend. The Tiger Girls still had to fulfill their duties dancing on the sidelines, supporting other sports at LSU, and upholding their expectations as collegiate athletes. 

“[Head coach Kandace] Hale said she was told the team would not be able to attend the competition, which is usually held in Orlando, Florida, during a meeting in January 2021 (…) the reason for the refusal changed constantly during several meetings: first COVID-19, then funding, then because no athletic trainers could be spared for their season. Hale said she was told the NCAA-recognized sports ‘came first,’” a CBS article said. 

The team wanted their ‘Like a Boy’ hip-hop dance to represent the importance of acknowledging women in sports and how difficult the world of dance is. Using the routine as a statement, the Tiger Girls wanted to prove they were more than just pretty faces shaking their poms on the sidelines and were actually strong, heavily devoted athletes, just like others at LSU. 

“Women’s sports are important due to everyone deserving the opportunity to compete in an activity they feel passionate about (…) discrimination between sports or sexes shouldn’t be tolerated, for everyone deserves the same equal chance to compete,” Josh Faile, junior, said.  

Though this win was one of their most important to them, it was not their only one. Established in 1999, the Tiger Girls have been showing their talent since they were created, even winning the UDA Nationals in their first year. Along with their now three national titles, they have also won two at the World University Championships. Those who have followed the Tiger Girls through their many years of accomplishments have been able to see the intense dedication, strength, and time that goes into being a successful dancer.  

“Supporting women in different sports, like dance, makes it a better environment at a college and promotes unity throughout all athletics. When the LSU Tiger Girls were not allowed to compete in 2021, it was very hurtful for the dance community. Their message through this year’s dance was very powerful and got the point across about equality in female sports,” Hadley Duplantis, sophomore, said.  

While women-dominated sports have slowly gained more recognition for being equally as difficult as men’s athletics, females, especially those in dance, still often lack the opportunities that men and categorized “strong sports,” like baseball and football, receive. To watch and support the LSU Tiger Girl’s achievement, click here to see their routine “Like a boy.”