Desiree Davis (front row, third from left) is pictured with the Midland University dance team, who last weekend won a national championship title in the NAIA Small Dance Division. The title is the first for the Midland program, who has qualified for nationals in all three years Davis has been part of the team. They placed fifth in 2011 and third last year.
Desiree Davis (front row, third from left) is pictured with the Midland University dance team, who last weekend won a national championship title in the NAIA Small Dance Division. The title is the first for the Midland program, who has qualified for nationals in all three years Davis has been part of the team. They placed fifth in 2011 and third last year.
April 18, 2013



Desiree Davis, a Carroll High School graduate, is a member of the Midland University dance team, who recently captured a national championship title in this year's NAIA Small Dance Division.

The Warriors earned an 8.790 for their performance in the finals and received the Innovative Choreography Award. Midland Dance, located in Freemont, Nebraska, earned the national championship victory in just the third season since the program's inception.

For the junior Davis, the win was one she said she never even dreamed about.

"When they announced us as national champions, there were cameras going off and everyone burst into tears," Davis said. "I still can't believe it."

With just under 300 teams in contention annually, the College Nationals is the largest collegiate competition in the nation. The Warriors reached the national stage at The Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida after receiving a Gold Qualifying Bid at the regional competition - a result of Midland's second regional championship in three years.

In her three years as a member of the Midland Dance team, Davis has qualified for nationals in every year of competition, improving from fifth place in 2011 to third place last season and National Champion in 2013.

The win is especially rewarding for Davis, who for years trained as a gymnast at Renee's Dance and Tumbling in Carroll. The daughter of Monty and Sheri Davis, Desiree didn't take her first dance class until her senior year of high school.

"I was always a little gymnast," said a spirited 5-foot-4 Davis. "When I came in as a freshmen on the team here I wasn't as experienced as the rest of them, but they spent extra time with me after practice and got me caught up to their level."

Each year the team begins practicing in June and competes through the month of April. They perform sideline routines for football games and basketball games, including halftime performances at both.

"We sometimes perform at volleyball games and we do performances throughout the year at different community events," Davis said.

Midland's routine at the national championships, which the team began working on in October, lasted a little over two minutes and showcased many different forms of dance.

"It had to have 30 seconds of Jazz, 30 seconds of Pom and 30 seconds of Hip-Hop," Davis explained.

Midland advanced out of the preliminaries in first place and was the team to beat out of 11 others from all across the country who made it to the finals.

"Going in first place after prelims, all that night we were practicing, making sure everyone had every last detail down," Davis said. "It was stressful, but we felt pretty comfortable with our routine."

The day of the finals, Midland performed their routine in front of a new set of judges. The team was not given a score, but rather brought to the stage with all the other teams and awaited their placing.

"We were announced as national champions," Davis said. "It was crazy."

Midland University dance head coach Trish Ryan, who choreographed the winning performance, said she is incredibly proud of the dancers.

"There is something truly special about this team, and that was proven in the final awards," Ryan said.

Dance is designated as an official sport at Midland University, offering athletic scholarships to dancers who want to pursue it further at a collegiate level.

"Midland is recognizing the amount of time, skill, and

hard work it takes to be a competitive dancer, something that attracted me to the university as a coach," Ryan said. "I am excited to see where this program will

be within the next few years."

Davis said tryouts for next year's team have already been held. She has made the team and is ready for a final shot at a second national championship.

"We have to defend our title," she said.