Juan Diego drill team finishes second at state championship
The Juan Diego drill team took won their region championship for the first time in the history of the school. (Meaghan Williams/Juan Diego Drill)
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The Juan Diego Catholic High School drill team finished its most successful year in the school’s history by capturing first place at region and second place at the state championship in the 3A region. The team took second place to Dixie High School but took first place in their kick routine.
The drill team has overcome several challenges over the past years, including losing their coach after he was fired in November 2015, just two weeks before their first competition. The new head coach, Meaghan Williams, was brought in after being brought in by her dance studio boss, the coach for Copper Hills High School.
“She came to me during class and asked if I wanted to coach a drill team. They need someone. I said I’d come check them out. Instantly, I saw potential,” Williams said. “They’re so talented and I fell in love with them in one practice. I knew this is where I was meant to be.”
This was the first time a Juan Diego Catholic High School drill team has ever won the region title in the history of the school. Williams said at the beginning of the season, both she and the girls on the team go in skeptical.
“You never know what other teams are going to be doing in the weeks to prepare for it. We got there and they did the best I’ve ever seen them do,” Williams said. “(At region,) we got first in military, first in dance and third in kick. With all of those added, we ended up taking first.”
Williams said the strength of the team is in their dance routine, saying they are a very technical team.
“They come from studios all over the valley and each studio brings something new to the team and their dance routine has been unbeatable the whole season because of how technical they are,” Williams said.
Where the team still struggles is in their showmanship and how they present themselves. Williams said teams have to look like they have confidence.
“For some reason, this team has struggled with confidence,” Williams said. “That’s been our biggest thing, just pulling that out of them and telling them how amazing they are.”
In order to bring out that confidence, Williams brought in outside eyes to watch the different routines. She said every time someone new watched them, they would tell the girls how amazing they are. Williams also said winning competitions has also boosted the girls’ confidence.
Eighteen-year-old senior Brenna Connely has been on the drill team for the past four years. She joined the team when she was a freshman because her older sister was also on the team. In preparation for state, Connely said the team has been practicing like no other.
“We practice all the time, every day. This week is crunch time,” Connely said. “We’ve been stretching a lot more than we usually do.”
Winning state was a personal goal of Connely’s, who said it would be awesome since the team has never been this good.
Eighteen-year-old senior Hailey Smith has also been on the team for the past four years. She said her favorite part of being on drill team is how the team becomes a family.
At the beginning of the season, Smith said the first goal is to always figure out what the team wants to do.
“We always have new people, especially this year, it’s always laying down the playing field for us,” Smith said. “Throughout the year, it’s reaching those goal points and we keep reaching to the top. I think it’s been really good.”
Seventeen-year-old Maddy Gough, who has been on the team for the past two years, said she hoped to give it her all at the state competition.
“Going out there and giving it our all and really thinking about what we’ve been doing for the last 10 months and really put it out there in that six minutes,” Gough said.
As a senior, Gough said she hopes she leaves the team with the confidence they deserve.
“I want to leave with confidence because this is a really good team and I know they can get better as the years go on,” Gough said. “I hope they do get better.”