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Angels’ comeback greater than the setback

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Charlie’s Angels pose after winning their third National Alliance Dance High School title in POM earlier this year. (Silvia Hernandez Photo)

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For Charlie’s Angels coach Kim Castro and her assistant coach Silvia Hernandez, it has never been easy. Just to form the Angels they needed help from then-Roswell Independent School District Superintendent Amarante Fresquez.

Each year the pair have had their share of adversity to overcome. There are things success brings that the public might not see but have to be dealt with if a team is to continually be as successful as Charlie’s Angels have been.

In 2017, the Angels were not allowed to defend their National Dance Alliance High School Pom title because they could not get approval to travel to Orlando, Florida from then-RISD Superintendent Tom Burris and athletic director Troy Hudson.

The Angels would have to wait until 2018, to get a chance to try and win their title back. They would get their opportunity, but it would take a near-perfect routine to overtake San Margarita Catholic going into the final round. The Angels danced to a Michael Jackson mix and scored a 93.8 in POM to win their second national championship.

For the Angels, something seemed to be off about the 2019 season. They would end up finishing third at nationals and were dethroned at state as they moved up a class to District 4-5A in competition. This would be a reason to celebrate for other programs in high school dance, but not for the Angels.

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The 2020 season began with a laser-sharp intense focus by the seniors and the juniors from that team. The Angels were determined to be the best again, not only in the state but in the nation.

Angels’ seniors: Emily Tucker, Ricci Medrano, Kate McDonald, Aneisa “Bob” Otero, Edelin Delascasas and Kayla Quiroz take us on a behind-the-scenes look at the night before their first dance and their final preparation. They share with the RDR Sports their anxiousness in waiting to hear if they had won their third National Dance Alliance High School Championship in five years.

The night before

Charlie’s Angels dance team before a performance in 2019. (David Rocha Photo)

The first day before preliminaries, the Angels practiced and it was a different type of floor. They had trouble with the routine. Castro was so mad and thought the team practiced horrible. Castro was so upset that she told her team, “I can’t believe we came all this way for this. We don’t do this, you guys are better than this.”

After practice on the way back to the hotel, Castro walked ahead of the team. She thought to herself what her former dance teacher had told her: “If you have a bad rehearsal you’re going to have a great performance. Castro thought “Lord, let that be true.”

The night before the team’s first dance, the Angels held a dancers-only meeting. They talked about what they were going to do and how they felt about the competition.

“We just sat there and bonded and built each other up,” Kate McDonald said. “We cried our eyes out, it was an uplifting experience with nothing negative. We were super positive and built each other up. We reflected on how good of a team we already were. We became a family.”

After the team bonded, they went to dinner laughing and joking.

Right before the Angels took the stage, Castro told them the harsh realities, “Hey, you can do this. There’s no team more prepared than you. We’re prepared, but it is up to you.”

In the preliminaries, the Angels were the last team to dance and could feel each other’s energy and confidence. They felt to themselves, there was no way they could have done any better. When the scores came out, the judges agreed with them and listed them in first place going into the finals. The team has a superstition and doesn’t like to be in first place at the end of the preliminary round.

Castro likes for her team to be behind in the scores, so she can tell them they have to be perfect and dance their best dance. Over the years, Castro has seen teams start out in first place on the first day and drop in the finals the last day.

On the second day of the competition is the final day, every team starts over. What the judges are looking for is to see if teams have corrected the scoresheet they gave them from the day before.

The reward for being in first place in preliminaries is it allowed the Angels to go last in the final round. Castro feels the reason going last is so important is if a team had a great dance early in the final round, many judges might not remember it. But if the Angels were the last team to dance and their routine was great, it will be fresh in the judges’ minds.

The team was so nervous. Even though the team was in first place, they were more nervous than if they had been behind.

Champions again

Charlie’s Angels at the 2018 Class 5A State Football Championship at the Wool Bowl featuring Roswell against Los Lunas. (David Rocha Photo)

After preliminaries, the team received the scoresheet and Castro told them that if they corrected the things the judges told them, they would win. Castro had them practice from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., correcting the judges’ critiques.

The next morning Emily Tucker had practice going in her room, the team started coming in there three at a time to practice. Ricci Medrano heard a noise and went to investigate, as soon as she stuck her head in the room, one of the team members said, “Ricci, do a full out.”

While the Angels were in the warmup room getting ready for finals, they watched the team ahead of them perform. Kate thought the Angels were better than them. After seeing that, it gave them confidence before taking the stage.

“You have to be one,” Castro said. “You have to be synchronized from head to toe and how you’re are behaving every minute of the day. If you look beautiful and feel great about yourselves, it gives you the confidence to perform well.”

For the Angels, the whole year comes down to two minutes. Castro has taught them they are in character as soon as they get on the bus. They are in uniform and as soon as they get off the bus, they zip up their jackets and put on their headphones. As soon as they are able to be viewed by anyone, even if they are going to their spots to watch a competition, they are in competition mode.

“We are ready to go,” Emily Tucker said. “We are in the zone and we don’t let anything distract us. We are there to win, we’re there to do what we do, and we’re not there to mess around. It’s all a character, and as soon as we are out there, we are performing, even if we’re not performing.”

The Angels danced flawlessly and were better than in the preliminaries. The girls were called to the center of the stage with the other team for the moment of truth. Each Angel was holding each other’s hands nervously waiting to hear the announcement. When the announcer said the 2020 champions for POM were Charlie’s Angels, the place erupted and the Angels were ecstatic.

“It’s a crazy, crazy feeling,” Emily said. “Especially on that level. You sit there shaking. When you hear your name called, you don’t know what to do. You freeze and then you jump all over the place.”

“The comeback is greater than the setback,” Edelin Delascasas said. “After losing last year, we all came back, and we knew what was about to happen.”

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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