Nicole T. Morgan

NORTH ANDOVER, MA – The dance team at Merrimack College, located in North Andover, has announced that they officially became a D1 varsity sport as of spring 2023. They are just now beginning to use the benefits and credit they deserve during the spring semester of 2024, after being considered a club sport for quite some time.

There are 45 young women on the team in total, including game-day dancers, and competition dancers. The game-day dancers dance on the sidelines at both basketball and football games and also perform a dance routine at halftime. Their competition team competes annually in Daytona Florida Beach, at the NCA & NDA college national championships.

After a long journey of being considered a club sport, with the hard work and help of coaches doing what it takes to spread the word and motivate young women to try out for the team, they were no longer considered a club and finally were able to call themselves part of a varsity sport at Merrimack college. Every year, the team is improving their technique and finding ways to incorporate all the dancers so that they can do what they love while also showing off their talent.

During this spring semester of 2024, the dancers have had many new opportunities, advantages, and better treatment for the team overall. They have been able to weight train in the weight room with a professional trainer, they meet twice a week which is known as “lift” at Merrimack. It was said that this has been a great way to keep the dancers in shape and helps keep their physical improvement consistent. The team is also able to receive treatment from athletic professionals for any injuries or pain they experience physically. This a major benefit and positive change considering the team was not allowed to receive treatment from athletic professionals before they were officially considered a sport.

The dancers also receive more team merch, at a lower cost, and were able to receive free dance shoes this past year.

This is a great moment for dance as a sport in society. Yasmine Gonazlez, a junior on the Merrimack dance team, says that this brings a feeling of relief and makes her feel understood as a dancer. Yasmine stated, “Growing up, dance was always considered an art and not a sport, I feel like I was always in a constant battle to prove myself, that dancers work just as hard, and are strong.” Dance finally getting the recognition that it deserves is most definitely a sign of new beginnings not only for dancers at Merrimack but for female dancers in society as well.

In a male-dominated sports world, It is often difficult for female athletes to receive the same credit and recognition for all that they do.

The Merrimack college dance team being considered a sport shines a light on female athletes and the door is just beginning to open for women in sports. It is inspiring for other young women and dancers to see that opportunities are limitless and to stay determined when it comes to your passion.

The Merrimack College dance team is not only filled with talented and hard-working dancers, but they also participate in many events to help others in their community. Every year, the team participates in an event called Relay for Life, This is a relay that donates to cancer research, which is said to hold a special place in their heart.

The team also participates in what is called “Mack gives back,” this is a Merrimack College event that brings the community together to lend a helping hand to nonprofit organizations. This includes packaging and stocking food, picking up trash, and more. The team also helps with freshmen move-in days, they help carry any items or bags into students’ dorms. The Merrimack College dance team is always willing to give extra help or show their school spirit and support when needed. They participate in admitted students days, where they cheer on incoming students who come and explore the college campus. During the football season, the team invites younger dancers, ages from elementary school to high school, to learn a dance and perform at halftime together. This charity event is a great way to motivate younger women to dance in college, and also promote the Merrimack’s dance team all together.

To stay updated with the Merrimack College dance team, you can follow the team’s social media pages! The team’s TikTok is @merrimackdt and their Instagram is @merrimackcollegedanceteam. This is where you can get some behind the scenes of team showing some moves, dancing at competitions and game days, and even the schedule of upcoming events that the team will be participating in. If you want to see more of the dance team showing off their talent live, the football and basketball schedule with dates and times are posted on merrimack.edu, which is the Merrimack website. The team also be competed at regionals this past Sunday, February 18, 2024, at Endicott College in Beverly MA.