Quinnipiac club dance team receives a national title at first ever national competition

Katie Coen, Executive Producer: Q30 Newscast

The Quinnipiac University club dance team traveled to Orlando, Fla. during the winter break to compete and win at their Universal Dance Association (UDA) national competition.

With low expectations and a chance to compete for the first time in over two years due to the pandemic, the team was ecstatic to place sixth in the Game Day category and eleventh in the Division I Jazz category.

Captain Amanda Rossi is a senior graduating in the spring, but is happy she got the chance to compete with this team before leaving Quinnipiac.

“It was honestly unlike anything I expected, it was just the energy and being around other dancers that share the same passion, it was just inspiring and it was amazing to dance on such an iconic stage,” Rossi said.

The club dance team was established in 2019 when club sports made a return to the university. Since then, the team has established itself on campus and grown to a larger group.

“It is absolutely amazing to see how the team has evolved since we first started,” Rossi said. “Going from a team of 14 and then 22 to a team of 20 this year and the increase in talent and drive and passion has been absolutely insane.”

Head Coach Kelley Zaleta was born in Hamden and danced her whole life. Zaleta is currently coaching at Hamden High School as well as club dance. She jumped at the opportunity to coach this team when it began and is proud of the work the team put in to win these national titles.

“When our scores did advance us to finals in both rounds I was screaming with pride, so excited and then for us to just go out there and have fun at that point and just sell everything and think about everything we have gone through in practices just do our best,” Zaleta said.

The new club dance team captain Maeve Higgins hopes to continue their success by traveling to the same national competition next year.

“I’m definitely looking forward to going back to nationals,” Higgins said. “That’s our number one goal and I think now that we have the foundation of knowing what it’s like, we are going to go back with even more fire and more excitement to do better and exceed our expectations again.”