The Charger Blog

Dance Team Charges to Victory in First Collegiate Dance Competition

The Chargers are regional champions following their performance in the Dance Team Union competition, and their pom and jazz routines earned them first place in their divisions. They’re looking forward to competing in more events during the Spring semester, including in their first national competition.

January 26, 2023

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

The Chargers after completing their jazz dance at the Dance Team Union event
The Chargers after completing their jazz dance at the Dance Team Union event. (All photos courtesy of Jennifer Lowe Photography)

For Kelly Mirando ’23 A.S., ’24, dance has always been her outlet. It’s been a favorite hobby since she was just two years old and a way for her to express herself in a safe place. After starting off dancing at a studio, she went on to dance on her high school team. She’s now continuing to enjoy dancing as a member of the Chargers dance team.

Mirando and her teammates recently returned from New Jersey, where they competed and excelled in the Dance Team Union regional dance competition – the team’s first collegiate dance competition. Charger dancers participated in two collegiate categories – jazz and pom – performing dances that were choreographed by professional dancers and choreographers. The jazz and pom routines earned the Chargers first-place finishes in each category, as the Chargers danced their way to finish as regional champions. The jazz dance performance earned the third highest score of the entire competition.

“These two wins meant a lot to me,” said Mirando, a dental hygiene major. “As one of the captains of the team, I felt proud of all my team members for coming together and working hard to make these dances be the best they could be and for coming out on top.”

‘The girls on this team have also become my family’

Irene Pfeffer ’25 says the team’s success at the competition is a testament to how hard they have all worked to perfect their routines. In addition to their regular game-day practices, the team came together for additional practices to prepare for the competition.

Pfeffer points out that competing as part of a dance team is very different from dancing on the sideline at a basketball or football game. She has enjoyed the competition and the team’s opportunities to “showcase their maximum potential as athletes.

“I am so proud of this team for going out on the stage and giving it our all,” continued Pfeffer, a graphic design major. “The girls on this team have also become my family. All of our long, hard, strenuous practices have definitely brought us closer as a team and have made us want to do better for each other. I could not have done this without the girls, and I’m so grateful to be competing with them.”

The team performing their pom routine.
The team performing their pom routine.
‘This is only the beginning’

A national high school and collegiate dance competition, Dance Team Union enables student-athletes to showcase athleticism and artistry. It was also an exciting opportunity for the 15 members of the University’s team to showcase their Charger Pride.

The Chargers pose with their regional championship banners.
The Chargers with their regional championship banners.

Before the competition was over, several of the athletes and their head coach, Ashley McClain, sat in the locker room discussing their personal and team goals. It was a discussion that, McClain says, left them feeling “fired up” and “inspired.” She was excited to watch the team take charge and enjoy a wonderful experience – and outcome – at its first collegiate competition.

“I am filled with so much pride,” said McClain. “We are so used to cheering on everyone else so it is nice to be on the other side of that. I see these athletes work extremely hard day in and day out, all while maintaining great grades, jobs, and everything that comes in between. They are committed to the University and to supporting our community and athletic teams.”

“I watch them push themselves and challenge themselves,” McClain continued. “I know the potential this team has, and this is only the beginning. They are some of the hardest-working individuals I know, and I am thrilled to see them be rewarded for their continued dedication to each other and the University of New Haven community.”

‘I have confidence in our team’

For Alyssa Mazza ’23, a nutrition sciences major, competing at the collegiate level had always been one of her goals. She’s enjoyed seeing how her teammates have continued to improve and work together. She and her fellow Chargers are grateful for the support of the University community and for the opportunity to be a part of the competition.

“The girls on the team currently, as well as previous alumni, have been working for this day for many years,” she said. “We put in an extreme amount of time practicing. The work is so worth it, and we wouldn’t be able to be where we are today without Coach Ashley. I’m so honored to be a part of this team with these amazing girls and coach. We’re so excited for what’s in store!”

There’s another upcoming first in the team’s future: They’ll be competing in the College Classic National event in Orlando, Florida, in April – the team’s first national competition. They’re also preparing for a collegiate virtual championship in March.

“I am looking forward to having many more achievements as a team,” said Courtney Dias ’26, an interior design major. “I have confidence in our team, and together we will work hard toward our goals and make history for this team. It's just up from here.”

The team celebrates during an awards ceremony.
The team celebrates during an awards ceremony.