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The Drill: For Madison Shaffer, dance is an exhilarating challenge

Worthington High School dance team member Madison Shaffer loves everything about dance -- even the tough practices.

Madison Shaffer Worthington Trojettes Jazz dance competitor
Madison Shaffer Worthington Trojettes Jazz dance competitor<br/>
Tim Middagh / The Globe<br/>
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WORTHINGTON -- To many, dance team doesn’t appear to be like any other high school sports activity.

There are many reasons for that. Many fans don’t see dance teams perform on their own, but instead as entertainment at the halftimes of football and basketball games. Or at pep rallies.

But the honest truth is that dance team isn’t a sideshow, or a brief diversion, or anything of the kind. It’s practitioners partake in a sport that requires a kind of endurance, athleticism and coordination that football players might require years to master. Practices can be grueling, the repetitions exhausting, and the competitions are tense.

The Worthington Trojettes dance squad competes in competitions every year in jazz and high kick, but mostly they go quite a distance from Worthington for their meets -- to Olivia, Clara City and Montevideo, for instance. They had one meet scheduled this year in Worthington, on Jan. 10, which was blown away because of a snowstorm. Just one more time local fans weren’t able to stay close to home to see their Trojettes demonstrate the rigors of competitive dance.

Worthington dancers deserve some special attention this winter, especially. And that is why we chose high school senior Madison Shaffer to represent the squad in a Drill feature. Shaffer, who also participates in tennis and FFA, started dancing early, as she testifies.

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“I’ve been in dance for 14 years. I started when I was 3 years old. It was difficult for me to pick up choreography in the beginning, but the more years I did it, it got easier to pick it up faster,” she said.

Madison is the twin sister of another Worthington High School dancer, Morgan Shaffer. Ironically, there is another set of twins on the team -- Calah and Ashley Riley.

When it comes to dance team, the Shaffer twins are huge supporters of each other. And they need to be. The better either of them perform, the better the team looks. And when any dancer twirls and jumps and poses in sync with teammates, dance is a thing of beauty.

To see the video of Madison Shaffer, go online at www.dglobe.com . Here’s a sample of the interview:

QUESTION: How much work and sacrifice does it take to be competitive in dance?

ANSWER: “It takes a lot of work to be in dance, because you spend a lot of time in the studios and practice. I miss a lot of holidays and birthdays and stuff, to be at practice or to be at the studio. I spend about 14 hours practicing. I also dance at a studio three nights a week, about four hours a week at the studio. To spend that much time practicing, you really have to enjoy what you’re doing.”

QUESTION: What would you say to people who think dance isn’t like a real sport?

ANSWER: “I definitely disagree with that. Other sports just don’t understand how much work we really do put in. You have to have a lot of stamina. Because if you don’t have the stamina, you are not going to make it through that dance.”

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QUESTION: Do you have a memorable story to tell? Something that you’ll never forget, something that will stay with you?

ANSWER: “I’d say the most memorable part for me, something that will stick with me for dance team, was making the varsity jazz team. Because I worked really hard to be on that team. I had wanted to be on that team since I was in the seventh grade, and I got on it when I was a freshman. I worked really hard those two years. And then, the feeling I got when I got it, I was so happy. I went home and I told my parents and they were so proud.”

FIND MORE OF THE DRILL:
Minnesota West Lady Jays basketball player Tia Murray helped her team place fourth in the NJCAA Division III national tournament
Luverne High School boys basketball player Gannon Ahrendt is the player the Cardinals look to for putting points on the scoreboard
Worthington Stingrays swimmer Luke Gordon is a regular competitor in state meet competition, and he's a big fan of scuba diving
Southwest Minnesota Christian basketball player Carter Van Hulzen says he's having a "blast" as a member of the Eagles
Micah Schaap has had a lot of success in track and field and boys basketball at Southwest Minnesota Christian, and he's grateful to be an Eagle.
An outstanding wrestler, Kie Anderson is a key member of an outstanding Jackson County Central team
Dannyn Peterson, a small-town girl, enjoys spending time in Worthington and helping her Minnesota West women's basketball team win games
Homecoming king. Soccer player. Smooth-swinging baseball player. Worthington High School senior Isaiah Noble is a multi-talented athlete and obviously popular in his school. But what really sets him apart, one might argue, is the way he uses his head.
Henry Erickson, a basketball player with the Windom Area Eagles, can both score and dish it out with the best of 'em.
Senior Peyton Lewis is 6-6 and can do a variety of things for the Adrian/Ellsworth boys basketball team, including being a leader.
Gymnastics has brought out the best in Mekyla Nystrom, and not just at the gym. Nystrom, a senior and an outstanding gymnast on the Worthington High School team, has used the sport to come out of her shell a bit. It’s quite a contrast to see the bright, buoyant and sometimes-sassy dynamo today and compare her to her quiet demeanor of many years ago.
Worthington is a lot different than Wichita. But Kansas' Amos Alford Jr. is adjusting pretty well to small-town life in southwest Minnesota as he performs in basketball for the Minnesota West Bluejays.
Wrestling has been a part of Cole Hennings' life for most of his life. It’s a family sport, too. He and Tanner are twin brothers competing for the Trojans (Tanner wrestles mostly at 220 pounds). They have an older brother, Jaden, who is a WHS graduate, and Levi is a freshman.
It’s not at all difficult visualizing Marah Darling performing at a high level in swimming events.
Andrew Benson, a co-captain on the Worthington High School boys hockey team, learned to skate when he was young. Now he brings his football talents to hockey, combining toughness with finesse.
Damon Ashworth, a former Missouri high school state champion, has high goals as a freshman wrestler at Minnesota West Community and Technical College.
Edgerton Public senior Reece Wassink is an exceptional volleyball and girls basketball player performing in a small school.
Taylor Lupton knows that he’ll have to do things just a little differently this year with his basketball team. The former Minnesota West men’s basketball coach has stepped down from that position to become the Worthington High School C squad boys basketball mentor, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that a coach can’t always handle high school freshmen the same as he handles college freshmen and sophomores.
Tenley Nelson is no late-bloomer when it comes to excellence at the varsity level of sports. She was a state performer as early as her eighth-grade year, and now as a senior she continues making lasting memories.
It’s an eye-opening experience to watch a team “get it” during a high school volleyball season, and that’s what happened to the Worthington Trojans in the fall of 2021.

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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