TEMPE, Ariz. — Spectators can regularly find the Arizona State Dance Team on the sidelines of every ASU football game, basketball game and various Sun Devil athletic events throughout the year.
Over the last decade, ASU's Dance Team has also become known for its level of talent and performances in national competitions. Last weekend, the team got to perform in a national competition again after two years away due to COVID.
For the first time in program history, they were crowned national champions.
ASU won first place in the D1A jazz competition and second in the pom competition at the College Classic National Invitational, hosted by Dance Team Union in Orlando, Fla.
The Sun Devils also won "The Battle" where top scoring routines from all of the preliminary rounds are invited to perform in the hopes of being named the winner.
"We started preparing in October doing Technique Tuesdays just to get back in the competition zone -- not game day. Because it's obviously a very different set of skills that you need," senior captain Drea DeGrate said. "Learning our choreography for both routines and drilling them until we get them perfect but also keeping the emotion in the routine."
The 13 women who make up the competitive team have to balance academics, performing on ASU game days, learning new choreography and practicing at 6 a.m. to achieve their ultimate goal of becoming National Champions.
It's a demanding schedule but members of the team, like DeGrate, will tell you it's all worth it.
"In the last month we were practicing six to seven days a week for these competition routines," ASU Spirit Squad Head Coach Bianca Caryl said. "Right before we left we were bringing in a lot of outside people to give us extra feedback, have an extra set of eyes on our routines and just do the last-minute fine-tuning and tweaking that we needed to make our routines almost flawless."
The ASU Dance Team has traditionally competed at UDA College Nationals and this was the team's first appearance at the College Classic. DeGrate, a Seattle native, chose to come to ASU because of its Dance Team and Journalism School.
She's looking forward to pursuing a career in sports social media once she graduates but she's proud to be part of a team that won a National Championship after a two-year hiatus.
"I think we definitely left a good legacy and that was the whole point of this year, " DeGrate said. "We finally get to cheer again, we finally get to dance again. The team is going to be okay, they're back to what it was before COVID."
The 2022-2023 ASU Spirit Squad and Dance Team will be selected at the end of April.
Follow the conversation with Lina Washington on Twitter: @LWashingtonTV. If you have a sports story idea, e-mail Lina at LWashington@12News.com.
Watch more of the latest sports videos on the 12 News YouTube channel. Don’t forget to subscribe!