Excitement still felt after Minerettes repeat as 6A state championsApr 22, 2021 11:19AM ● By Julie Slama
Bingham High Minerettes are all smiles as they are back-to-back 6A state drill champions. (Photo courtesy of Bingham High School)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
It has been one month to the day since the Minerettes huddled together, their masks sliding down their chins while they yelled and smiled when they were named back-to-back 6A drill team champions.
That momentous day, Feb. 4, Bingham’s drill team swept all three categories—military, dance and show—to capture a near-perfect competition season.
Coach Erica Cox said it still is exhilarating.
“It’s so exciting,” she said. “I didn’t think it would be with a second title, but it’s even more so. It’s unique and so difficult to repeat now in the drill world. The talent in Utah is incredible.”
It is Cox’s second title in her three years as Bingham’s coach and the school’s ninth state title.
“It’s really been a successful year; I’m really so proud,” she said.
During the competitive season, they posted wins at all three invitationals, including all three categories at invitationals at Lehi and Bountiful high schools and snagging two of the three at an Alta High invitational, losing the new show routine to rival Copper Hills.
The show routine combines hip hop, character and prop dances. The Minerettes performed as music conductors, complete with batons, podiums and sheet music.
At region, they repeated their title, with wins again in military and dance, placing third to Copper Hills and Herriman in show.
“These girls worked super hard,” Cox said, then realized those words don’t do justice to the 29 team members.
Like many things, this year looked different during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their tryouts were delayed one month, then they had to audition in groups of three and disinfect between each group. They were able to hold masked practices indoors after completing health checks and having their temperatures taken.
However, as positive case counts and those out with quarantine rose in the school, Bingham closed for periods of time, twice as the competition season neared. Then, with former Gov. Gary Herbert’s mandate, winter sports were put on hold for two weeks as the season began.
“As great as it is to have technology, Zoom practices are hard,” Cox said. “We ended up using Marco Polo (app) where girls would video every trick and turn and send them to me every day. When we got back together, it was a breakthrough moment, a glimpse of what we could accomplish. I saw their work ethic and how they improved. We came out stronger.”
But they weren’t quite done with COVID-19.
“It was like a revolving door with holding practices and not,” she said. “We had some girls missing all the time, for weeks. For a month or two, we didn’t have a full team at practice. It was super difficult. They did their best to follow on Zoom, but we’d have to get them back up to speed when they returned, just to have someone else out. It was practices with half the team here and half on Zoom.”
Luckily, during most of the competitions, everyone was accounted for and competed—until the last invitational at Alta.
“We had all the girls except two; they tested positive the day before the invitational,” Cox said. “It was an important one, with all the big competition there.”
Instead of competing with holes where those two team members would have danced, two injured alternates stepped in to compete in the military and show routines. Instead of attempting for them to learn the third, difficult dance routine hours before they’d compete, Cox spent the time respacing it with the team members.
“We totally could have danced with the holes, but we wanted to rework it, make it the best we could,” she said. “It was exhausting but worth it, as we won that the next day.”
Those same two team members also missed regionals, but they were well enough to return before state. Once again, Cox looked at her squad, made changes to include alternates and those who recovered just days before the state competition.
“We wanted to do what was best for the team and to be fair to our girls,” she said, adding that their perseverance and commitment speaks to the theme her 11 officers chose: “Dauntless.”
“It’s perfect for this year,” she said. “We faced so much adversity, but we had such determination.”
Their season was expected to wrap up in March with a recognition night followed by a showcase of their routines, including some solos and a dance by the seven seniors.
Tryouts for next year’s squads also were to be held in March, leaving the girls to contemplate the new region, similar to the current one with the exception of Mountain Ridge High moving into Jordan High’s slot—before practices begin in May.
“It’s a difficult, pretty stacked region,” she said. “We will be strong with almost all our girls coming back.”