Yes, Clogging Is A Sport

Yes, Clogging Is A Sport

Talent, hidden in the heart.

Growing up in a relatively small town, there were very limited options for activities to pursue outside of the traditional school and community sports. At the age of three years old, my mom signed me up for my first dance class at the local dance studio – little did she know – her careless decision would change my life.

Imagine me, as a little girl – for those of you who know me well – hold off on your comments. At the time, I loved all things frilly and pink – which luckily, including tutus, special ones – only for tiny little dancers such as myself. Over the course of my first dance season, I successfully learned two routines with the help of awesome teachers, ordered my first dance costumes, and learned how to correctly tie my tap shoes in my feet, to perfection. I vividly remember my first dance recital dressed as a bumble bee, with nearly twenty of my new found friends. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as my family had discovered that any stage with a spotlight, was the place for me.

Fast forward, two years – when the decision of whether or not to continue my skills in tap and ballet was presented. I remember being ready for a change in the practice room. A rapidly growing, fairly new style of dance called Clogging was taking precedence in my dance studio and I was eager to give it a try, at the age of six years old. I worked diligently with my friends to master the “double step, rock step,” and the “rocking chair” step which involved a series of “double steps” and a new, “brush-up.” I was ecstatic about my sparkling white clogging shoes, with fancy taps that clicked together perfectly with my every step. After one year, in a recreational class, my mom received the phone call I had been anticipating.

My all-time favorite dance instructor, by the name of Miss Claudia, called my mother and asked if I would be interested in joining the newest competitive clogging team. To say that I was excited is an understatement. I could not wait to wear the fancy makeup and lipstick, the velvet dresses and body suits, just like the older girls I had looked up to – not to mention that I got the opportunity to perform on numerous occasions throughout the year. Nothing could be better, right?

After many long nights, a few painful blisters, new team practice gear, and new clogging shoes – my team was prepared for our first competition of the year held in Saluda, North Carolina. We finished the competition with one first and one-second place win. On this day, I realized that clogging was the “sport” for me. I loved every minute of being on stage, in front of the crowd, trying my very best to impress the judges.

As the years passed by, my team, known as the Southern Jewels Sapphire swept the Overall Grand Champion Title at nearly 25 competitions over the course of four years. Earning an enormous number of spots in the “Dance-off” at each competition ensured us the chance to clinch the title of Overall Grand Champion at each and every competition we attended.

In 2009, my team, the Southern Jewels Sapphire, was named Overall United States National Grand Champions. The prestigious competition was held at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Not only did we accomplish our goal of National Champions, my friends and I had a blast sightseeing in this beautiful city. As a result of our hard work, we were also awarded National Champion Jackets, and the opportunity to entertain the guests aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Ship, the Monarch of the Seas.

In 2011, my team was awarded the Clogging Champions of America, Overall Grand Champion title. In addition to our already earned National Champion Jackets, we earned National Champion rings, as well.

Following our second National Champion Title, my team was featured on an episode of “Down South Dance”, on TLC. This television show gave us the chance to showcase our talent to the world and give everyone a small insight of the “World of Clogging.” One week of our summer was spent filming the show, all while learning about the daily lives of movie star we see in the media. Needless to say, the constant attention and microphone taping is not for the faint of heart. Nonetheless, the experience was incredible and one that I would not have experienced without my talent of clogging, and top notch instructors – Chip and Misty Harrison.

In 2012, our team was again awarded our third and final - United States, Overall National Champion Title. The sense of victory and accomplishment is still the most rewarding feeling in the entire world to this day.

Finishing off my senior year as a dancer at Southern Dance Academy, my team was given the chance to audition for the reality show “America’s Got Talent,” in front of the celebrity judges in Los Angeles, California. This experience is by far, my most favorite. Never in my life, could I have imagined me, in the middle of Los Angeles, California auditioning for one of the most successful television shows with twenty of my closest friends. Although we did not advance to the next round of competition, the memories I made in California will stay with me forever.

So you may be wondering why I made this article so in depth, here is your answer – No, I did not endure hours of outdoor practicing, rather indoors where I could thrive in my own environment. No, luckily - I did not sustain injuries that prevented me from “playing” the sport I loved. However – I DID attend hours of practice several nights a week, I DID wear the proper uniforms needed to win each competition, and I DID obtain the skills necessary to thrive in a team environment. I am eternally grateful for each instructor and team member that poured into my life for 14 years – YOU are the reason I believe in myself!

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Fowler

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9 Reasons Crocs Are The Only Shoes You Need

Crocs have holes so your swag can breathe.

Do you have fond childhood objects that make you nostalgic just thinking about your favorite Barbie or sequenced purse? Well for me, its my navy Crocs. Those shoes put me through elementary school. I eventually wore them out so much that I had to say goodbye. I tried Airwalks and sandals, but nothing compared. Then on my senior trip in New York City, a four story Crocs store gleamed at me from across the street and I bought another pair of Navy Blue Crocs. The rest is history. I wear them every morning to the lake for practice and then throughout the day to help air out my soaking feet. I love my Crocs so much, that I was in shock when it became apparent to me that people don't feel the same. Here are nine reasons why you should just throw out all of your other shoes and settle on Crocs.

1. They are waterproof.

These bad boys can take on the wettest of water. Nobody is sure what they are made of, though. The debate is still out there on foam vs. rubber. You can wear these bad boys any place water may or may not be: to the lake for practice or to the club where all the thirsty boys are. But honestly who cares because they're buoyant and water proof. Raise the roof.

2. Your most reliable support system

There is a reason nurses and swimming instructors alike swear by Crocs. Comfort. Croc's clogs will make you feel like your are walking on a cloud of Laffy Taffy. They are wide enough that your toes are not squished, and the rubbery material forms perfectly around your foot. Added bonus: The holes let in a nice breeze while riding around on your Razor Scooter.

3. Insane durability

Have you ever been so angry you could throw a Croc 'cause same? Have you ever had a Croc bitten while wrestling a great white shark? Me too. Have you ever had your entire foot rolled like a fruit roll up but had your Crocs still intact? Also me. All I know is that Seal Team 6 may or may not have worn these shoes to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Just sayin'.

4. Bling, bling, bling

Jibbitz, am I right?! These are basically they're own money in the industry of comfortable footwear. From Spongebob to Christmas to your favorite fossil, Jibbitz has it all. There's nothing more swag-tastic than pimped out crocs. Lady. Killer.

5. So many options

From the classic clog to fashionable sneakers, Crocs offer so many options that are just too good to pass up on. They have fur lined boots, wedges, sandals, loafers, Maryjane's, glow in the dark, Minion themed, and best of all, CAMO! Where did your feet go?!

6. Affordable

Crocs: $30

Feeling like a boss: Priceless

7. Two words: Adventure Straps

Because you know that when you move the strap from casual mode chillin' in the front to behind the heal, it's like using a shell on Mario Cart.

8. Crocs cares

Okay, but for real, Crocs is a great company because they have donated over 3 million pairs of crocs to people in need around the world. Move over Toms, the Croc is in the house.

9. Stylish AF

The boys will be coming for you like Steve Irwin.

Who cares what the haters say, right? Wear with pride, and go forth in style.

Cover Image Credit: Chicago Tribune

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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