Norman North’s pom squads didn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic keep them from ending their season with at least a top five finish in all the categories they entered at a national competition earlier this month.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, Norman Public Schools has prohibited athletic teams from traveling out of state. After talks with students, parents and coaches, the Norman North pom squads collectively decide to travel to Orlando, Florida to compete as “North All Star Pom” at nationals.
North took six dances to the competition, placing top five in every category and winning a national championship in team performance-style dancing.
“Six is the most dances we’ve taken from Norman North, ever,” said Nancy Coggins, whose daughter Carsen competed on the 2020-2021 varsity pom squad.
After winning four state championships as Norman North pom squad this year, program coach Liz Smith said students were disappointed they couldn’t go to nationals as Norman North, but were eager to compete at the highest level.
“All year long our school had kind of warned us that they weren’t approving any out of state travel or overnight travel, so we understood and knew that decision was probably coming, so we had been brainstorming other options,” Smith said. “We knew the all star team route was an option, so we were disappointed, but we had a plan in place, and moms really stepped in to help us plan and pivot and make it work for us.”
Smith said it was important to let parents know participation in the All Star Squad was optional and ensure that only those who were comfortable would take the trip.
“Without hesitation, all of our families were on board and wanted to make it happen for their girls,” Smith said.
The varsity team performance, which encompassed jazz, pom, kick and hip-hop-style dancing, won first place, in addition to two third place finishes and a fourth place finish in other categories. The junior varsity squad came in second and fourth in their categories.
Smith said the girls were thrilled to see results from their hard work.
“We talked about how much they’ve been through just not only with COVID-19, but personally throughout their time on Norman North Pom, and they all have worked so hard for this,” Smith said.
As the squads awaited their results at nationals, Smith said everyone was nervous, sitting on the edge of their seats.
“When they called the other team in second place in the varsity category, we knew we had won and it was just like, tears, laughter, having just all the emotions — we were so excited,” Smith said.
Coggins said the squads accomplished many things in a year that presented adversity and at times seemed like an uphill battle.
“We’re all very proud of them,” Coggins said.