By Briana SmithSTAFF WRITER
The Hofstra University Dance Team bundled up in gray pants, jackets, hats, gloves and scarves to warm up the Super Bowl audience at the MetLife Stadium this past Sunday.
The team was the Super Bowl’s official “Warm Up Crew.” Their main goal was to “warm up” the crowd and intensify excitement.
The Dance Team spends their year practicing for upcoming collegiate games and events, and their annual Universal Dance Association National Championship in Orlando, Florida. This year, they were invited to take part in the nationally renowned Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
They prepared days in advance for this large-scale opportunity, presented to them by two Hofstra alumni and former Dance Team members who work for the NFL, according to Dance Team coach Kelly Olsen.
“They needed a dance team and the first people they thought of was us,” said Olsen.
Kiersten Unangst, a sophomore Dance Team member and math major, enjoyed pepping up the crowd for one of the biggest sports event of the year.
“[The team spent the day] moving around the stadium’s perimeter having dance-offs, hula hoop contests and more, and the winners received giveaways,” said Unangst. “I loved interacting with the crowd and seeing how excited they were for the game.”
After the extensive process of background checks, practicing and creating fun and interactive games, the team was ready to entertain the crowds.
“I am definitely excited. It has been a long process, and it was time consuming, but it is definitely exciting,” Olsen said. “Also, I did not realize how exciting it would be until we started hearing everyone’s reactions and how excited they were for us.”
Oscar Espinal, a junior speech communication and political science major, was proud of the Dance Team for receiving so much publicity and representing New York.
“I believe that the Hofstra girl’s Dance Team being chosen to hand out hand warmers and other warm up articles before the big game to the fans was a great way to show people from all over the country how New Yorkers come together and work as a team,” said Espinal.
Although the Dance Team was unable to stay to watch the game, they had nothing but positive remarks to say about their experience.
“This experience exceeded my expectations,” said Bradle. “I was living a once-in-a lifetime opportunity while doing something I love and brightening the days of the NFL fans.”
Alicia Napolitano, a sophomore Dance Team member and marketing major, said that working at the Super Bowl was something that she will never forget.
“It was such an amazing experience to share with my best friends. The fans and other workers had such great energy, which distracted us from the somewhat cold weather,” Napolitano said.
As a former Dance Team affiliate herself and now the dance coach for 11 years, Olsen said it was an honor for her to see her dancers perform at the Super Bowl.
“The most memorable moment was when the team was putting on a show at one of the stages,” said Olsen. “Seeing them in front of a crowd and providing such entertainment was great. The fans were having so much fun.”
After countless hours of increasing the crowds’ adrenaline, spending quality time together and taking pictures to capture this unforgettable moment, the Dance Team headed back to Long Island. Before leaving, they were able to hear the first “National Anthem” sung by the opera singer, Renee Fleming, along with an array of fireworks and military helicopters fly over the stadium.
“We would love to do it again,” said Olsen. “However, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with this team of 20 dancers and two coaches. I know that some of our team members will go on to dance on a professional team and will hopefully get to experience a Super Bowl again!”