Of the athletes on VCU’s campus, there are some that may go unnoticed; they appear hidden amongst the other 31,000 students, but at halftime of the men’s basketball games, they are in plain sight.
They are the Gold Rush Dance Team.
Chelcy Hedgspeth, started dancing at the age of thirteen. She started in jazz and hip-hop, but had little competitive experience. When she arrived at VCU, Hedgspeth didn’t know the school even had a team, but she is now a senior and captain. She was also accepted into the VCU Dance and Choreography program.
“Dance means a lot. It’s my favorite part of the day,” Hedgspeth said. “We have practice three times a week, and it is just something to look forward to. All of the girls are fantastic.”
The Gold Rush hold tryouts every year to keep some friendly competition and ensure they have the best quality dancers each season.
“Most of the girls who try out for dance team have some sort of dance training background and we take girls from all types of styles as long as they have the fundamentals,” said senior captain Jackie Van Dao.
Van Dao said she tried out for Gold Rush because she had been dancing since she was three years old, but knew she didn’t want to major in dance at VCU.
During performances, the Gold Rushers perform routines from 1 minute and 15 seconds to 1 minute 30 seconds.
“One of my favorite parts during a game is when the players make a clutch three-pointer or a dunk, the Peppas play the song ‘War’ right after and we do a little dance that goes with that song and the whole crowd knows what to do during that song so the whole Siegel Center is pumped,” Van Dao said.
Van Dao said one of her other favorite aspects is traveling with the team during the A10 and NCAA tournaments.
“Our coach chooses only six girls to go to each tournament and that’s based on seniority and also your commitment and work on the team,” Van Dao said, adding that one of the best games she’s dance at was the A10 Championship game last year in Brooklyn.
“I’m pretty sure I cried when we won because I was so excited, and seeing the team so happy especially because we lost Briante Weber during the season made the moment so much for special for them,” Van Dao said.
The Gold Rush Dance Team will make its first game appearance at the men’s basketball Black and Gold game Oct. 24.
“We have a great group of girls this year,” Hedgspeth said. “I want this year to be the most uniformed routine year as possible. I want our professionalism to show through our routine.”