Tuesday, April 08, 2008
by Patti Brandt
The Bay City Times
The Bay City Times
The high energy of the Saginaw Sting dance team may be a perfect match for the rough-and-tumble sport of indoor football, the latest addition to the tri-city area's entertainment offerings.
On Friday, the Stingers, as they are known for now, entertained fans at the Dow Event Center in downtown Saginaw, where the team will play four more home games before the end of its inaugural season.
And being in the center of a football arena, where impassioned fans surround them, is a little different than being on a stage in a dance competition, dance team members say.
"It's pretty adrenaline-pumping when the fans are 360 degrees around you," said Stephanie Hartwig, of Bay City. "It's pretty intense performing in an arena."
The 19-year old All Saints Central High School graduate, like most of the young women on the team, had never been on a Harley Davidson motorcycle either.
So it was quite an experience when the entire team was escorted into the arena on the backs of Harley's for their first performance in March. The team is sponsored in part by the Great Lakes Harley Davidson dealership, 3850 S. Huron Road.
"We felt like VIPs," said Chelsea Feltch, 22, one of the team's two coaches.
"When the engine started you could take the smile off your face," said Jolene Heidenberger, of Vassar, who said she was surprised by the loud rumble of all those Harley engines.
At 28, Heidenberger is the oldest member of the team. She's been dancing since she was 3 and taught at the Perry Woodard School of Dance, 1403 Columbus Ave. She is now pursuing a master's degree at Saginaw Valley State University.
"I'm really impressed with the talent on this team," she said.
In addition to Hartwig and Heidenberger, four other dancers are from the Bay City area. All 11 team members are students at SVSU or at Delta College, except for Erin Davis, of Bridgeport, who is in her first year of teaching biology and physical science at Saginaw's Heritage High School.
When students heard about Davis' sideline they weren't too impressed, the 24-year-old said.
"They were mostly concerned if I could hook them up with a free T-shirt," she said.
"And they're like, 'Can I get free tickets?'" Hartwig added.
Several dancers are past members of the Saginaw Spirit dance team, but they say indoor football may be a better fit for a dance team than hockey.
Most have had years of dance instruction, have been on high school cheerleading or dance teams, and have danced competitively. Some have taught dance and several are also on SVSU's dance team.
But being on the Sting team comes without the high stakes of competitive dancing, they say.
"You get to do what you love and you get to have fun with it," said Melissa Curtiss, 19, of Freeland. "You're not going to go home crying."
And if you miss an occasional step, it's not a big deal. You'll just be told to practice some more, said Brittany Bourdon, 19.
Before becoming part of the Saginaw team Bourdon, of Dexter, danced for about one year with the Detroit Shockwave - a strict, high-pressure endeavor, she said.
"You weren't allowed to have fun with it," Bourdon said. "It was like a job."
The dance team will hold a junior dance camp June 5, where participants ages 5-18 will spend four hours learning a routine that they'll perform on June 6, the Sting's last home game of the regular season.
Participants will be placed in beginner, intermediate and advanced sessions according to their age.
The team also is looking for a name. Suggestions have included the Saginaw Stingers and the Honeybees. Others can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.