WDAAM Season Concludes With National Wins
April 15, 2023
Hearing the wild cheers of the crowd echoing across the gym, followed by the silence of bowed heads and clutched hands, waiting to find out which team came out on top was an experience that all West Drill and All Male (WDAAM) members have grown accustomed to. But Saturday, April 1 marked WDAAM’s last competition, bringing their 2023 season to an end. Not only did Small Military go into the competition undefeated, but All Male, Pom, and Medium Coed came out as national champions.
Emotions ran especially high for the team at the Miss Dance Drill Team (MDDT) USA competition as West’s lyrical team entered the floor. Their piece — which served as a tribute to the seniors who would soon be leaving their underclassmen teammates — left audiences and performers alike in tears. Head Drill Captain and Lyrical performer Jaden Mooney (12) said, “It was a very emotional last performance because . . . it really set in that I would never be competing with those girls again.” After dancing alongside each other for years, it was difficult knowing that moments such as sitting together during award ceremonies and singing the Alma Mater on the bus ride home from competitions were fleeting. It set a bittersweet tone for the rest of the competition as it reminded seniors that — for many of them — it will be one of their last with the team.
Over the years, many dancers have found an irreplaceable comfort in the team. All Male member Koudai Fukuda (12) expressed, “Undeniably I can call WDAAM my second family.” Throughout his time in WDAAM, he has gone through the struggles of early morning practice and has fed off of the energy of dancers around him, many of whom he now considers his best friends. So when it came to All Male’s performance at MDDT, his mind went through “cycles of emotions” from both the adrenaline rush of performing in front of the roaring crowd and the realization that this would be one of the last times he’d be competing on the dance floor. “Sharing the stage with my boys is always special, and I cherished every moment of the last three minutes I performed,” Fukuda reflected.
WDAAM’s coach Ms. Eriksen described how this year is especially bittersweet as it is the first time the team has had seven four-year member captains. “I can remember them as little freshmen, and seeing them grow into what they are now has been really, really special,” she explained. Watching them come out of their shells and become “one of the hardest working group of leaders” has proved to cultivate a successful year. “I’ve never had a Military team go undefeated. And All Male [going a] second year undefeated is unheard of,” Ms. Eriksen explained. That, plus Pom’s third national win and the countless specialty awards WDAAM has won over the season, shows just how crucial their hours of practice and leadership have been.
With their final performance concluding with their showcase on April 21, these dancers’ time in WDAAM had come to an end. Fukuda said that it’s an experience he’ll definitely think back fondly on. “As a senior who just finished my last ever competition season, I learned that all good things must come to an end at one point,” he said. “But those moments will live within me forever.”