Only days after the Hahnville Hi-Steppers captured national championship glory, sophomore Ashlyn Rogers said it still felt surreal.
“It’s more than we could have ever dreamed of,” said Rogers, a lieutenant with the dance squad that cemented itself as truly elite last weekend with a first-place finish in the Small Varsity Team Performance category at the Dance Team Union National Championship competition.
“It was a lot of hard work, dedicated hours and blood, sweat and tears,” Rogers said. “We had support from our amazing sponsors, our families, our administrators … I don’t know that it’s fully sunk in yet.”
The team also took third in the Small Spirit Showdown and third in the Large Varsity Kick competitions, making for a trio of top three finishes among a field of the best dance squads in the country. Those categories also were the lone three Hahnville competed in – meaning the Hi-Steppers excelled in everything they put their eyes on at the championship event.
The championship victory makes it back-to-back years for St. Charles Parish teams to take home national crowns. After the Destrehan Desty Darlings dance squad pulled it off a year ago.
And on that topic – coaching-wise, this was a notable family affair.
It is the first state championship for Kiley Voges as a head coach in just her first full season with the Hi-Steppers, after taking the helm of the team just after competition season began last season. The last name might sound familiar, as her mother Micque is the longtime coach of the Destrehan dance program and led the Destys to their first national championship win as a program.
Micque assisted her daughter and the team this year on their journey and said she couldn’t be prouder of her daughter – or the group of dancers who she says made a full commitment to accomplishing something special.
“We’re really excited for those girls,” Micque said. “Basically, they just decided they were ready to commit to nationals, and at that point they had auditions, hired a choreographer and the girls committed to the extra practices during the week, on the weekends, during holidays – and they just bonded as a team. They put forth the effort to make an impact at nationals, and you can see the result.”
Much as was the case for the Destys last year coming off of Hurricane Ida, it was no sure thing that the Hi-Steppers were going to aim to compete at nationals.
“Kiley believed in her team – she really wanted them to be there, and she pushed nationals,” Micque said. “We talked to the parents, and they were on board … and this group was simply special. It was a sisterhood. If one person isn’t committed all the way, you won’t achieve a goal. They all stuck together.”
The team’s motto this year was “One step at a time,” a play on the team’s name as well as a nod to the day-to-day work and commitment that can add up to big things.
With that commitment came confidence.
“I think we had a pretty good idea of what we were walking in there with,” said Rogers. “You were hoping all the hard work would pay off. As far as the competition itself, in our first nationals we had no clue what to expect. But we were hoping our hard work would pay off, which it did.
“We felt like we had so much energy. We felt sure of ourselves, just really together.”
Still, nothing prepares you totally for the moment.
“We were crying tears of joy,” Rogers said. “It was amazing.”
The Hi-Steppers’ roster includes Ashlyn Rogers, Carly Clause, Jaidyn Parrish, Carsyn Ford, Ella Baudouin, Sophie Bourgeois, Addison Hymel, Avery Oertling, Macy Oertling, Ashley Parrino, Lauren Perkins, Blakely Thompson, Madison Troxler and Sarah Waits.