The student news site of Amarillo High School

The Sandstorm

The student news site of Amarillo High School

The Sandstorm

The student news site of Amarillo High School

The Sandstorm


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Steppers Bring Home National Champion Title


After months of preparation, the Sandie Steppers dance team earned the title of the National Champions. 

On top of this big accomplishment, varsity earned first place national champions in jazz, first place national champions in open and first runner up in the pom competitions. In addition, the junior varsity team earned second runner up in the pom competitions.  

“We started learning our competition routines early,” Steppers coach Kaylee Morrison said.  “One of them even [as early as] June of 2022. We just kept cleaning and working towards trying to get them ready to put in front of audiences.” 

The dance team spent months preparing the routines to perform at competition. This included a great deal of seven a.m. practices, multiple performances for judges in order to get tips on what to improve on and hours of reviewing film in order to clean up any unnoticed errors. 

“I was really surprised and really happy,” senior Rylee Hicks said. “It was such a big competition. We weren’t expecting to do as well, we were mainly using it as a learning experience, so it was really really amazing.” 

While tension encompassed the atmosphere at the various competitions, the steppers expressed their joy at the time they spent learning and performing.

“We got to see colleges dance and it really opened our eyes to see how the dance world is way bigger than we thought in steppers,” senior Haley Mathes said. 

The Sandies Steppers began in 1959 and has been a cherished and longstanding tradition ever since. This year, the team welcomed its first male participant, junior Zeke Riddley, marking a historical change in the teams’ history.

“She [Morrison] inspired me the most and also the fact that I knew I would leave a mark being the first male stepper in history here at Amarillo High school,” Riddley said. 

To celebrate this win, the cheer team and many staff members including the coaches and principals, met at the school to welcome back the team when they got off the bus. In addition, they held their dedication to the season banquet a few days later. However, the team already felt the effects of celebrations prior to the official gathering.  

 “We celebrated on the bus,” senior Regina Fox said.  “Our coach has this saying ‘you can breathe on the bus’ and really on the way back we just laughed and talked and we really felt the relief of nationals.”

After becoming national champions this year, there is hope that the publicity the school received influences other schools in the surrounding areas to join in on the action by creating their own dance teams. 

“I hope that us being on our local news makes school leaders think ‘Oh, maybe we can offer these opportunities for students too,” Morrison said. It’s really important for kids to find a place to be a part of for their high school experience.”

While achieving the title of national champion took much preparation, a big factor in binding this team together was the overall team culture standard.

 “I hope they keep our culture,” Mathes said. “That’s a big part of steppers, the culture and the friendships in our team, that’s what we focus on so I hope that they all still love each other and all still hold the team to a high standard,”

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About the Contributor
Brylee Knipp
Brylee Knipp, Writer
This is my second year on staff. I'm a writer and a junior this year. I am the editor for Senior Ad and historian for Orchestra. I enjoy reading writing, photography, and music.