by August Kissel, Senior Writer
The Jasper Dancers recently took home another high-ranking award. This time, the team and head coach Kaitlyn Marquette received a proclamation from New York City Hall to commemorate the national championship title they received in the 2019 season. This proclamation was presented by councilman Andrew Cohen on Feb. 11.
“I feel extremely honored to have been recognized on behalf of New York City,” Marquette said. “This proclamation is one of a kind, will help set us apart from other dance teams in the area, and will make our name and story heard outside of our small community here at Manhattan College. The proclamation recognizes our hard work and achievements that took place in order for us to become national champions. This award is continuing the fight to tell our story, and bring recognition to our program.”
New York City Hall has never given out a proclamation of this sort to any dance team, athletic team, or college in the New York City area.
“This was the first time they were ever doing something like not just for a dance team, not just a dance team from Manhattan College, but for any group from college,” added Executive Director of Student Engagement John Bennett. “That was a really neat aspect. It also shows such a good relationship between the team, the school, and the city and the neighborhood too because it was the local councilman in that role. It’s all relationship building.”
“There were news stations and media documenting the ceremony which made me so proud knowing that our program is gaining recognition,” Marquette said. “It was a very surreal moment to be standing there and an overwhelming sense of pride filled the room. John Bennett, Dr. Saterlee and Rob Walsh stood beside me as councilman Andrew Cohen presented the proclamation.”
Rob Walsh, senior advisor for Strategic Partnerships, used to work for New York City Hall and was able to make this connection for the College and the dance team.
After receiving the proclamation from City Hall, the Jasper Dancers had their national championship banner hung in Draddy Gymnasium. Prior to the men’s basketball game against Canisius on Feb. 23rd, Marquette surprised the team with the banner’s unveiling.
“When they revealed the banner, I was so overwhelmed with a feeling of pride for finally seeing our hard work on display,” Madeline Donohue, a junior member of the team said.
The banner symbolizes not only the accomplishment in 2019, but also the dance team’s fight for recognition and respect.
At halftime of the game, the senior members of the Jasper Dancers were honored alongside the graduating members of the Cheer Team and the Pep Band. Like many others, Walshe was proud to see the team honored to the extent they were.
“Anytime a College has a team of ‘National Champions’, they should be recognized for their accomplishment,” said Walsh. Being honored at City Hall and now having that big, bright, beautiful banner up in the rafters of Draddy is very special. We should all be proud of the Jasper Dancers and root them on in April to bring home another big victory.” said Walsh.
These recent tributes highlight the success of the Jasper Dancers and keeps this year’s team enthusiastic about their upcoming competition season.
“Because of this (proclamation), this year’s team is working just as hard, if not harder to make sure we live up to expectations, and the reputation we have created for ourselves,” Marquette said.
With this in mind, The Jasper Dancers traveled to UDA’s Regional Dance Competition on Feb. 16, where they placed first in Hip Hop and third in Jazz.
The Jasper Dancers not only strive to uphold their previous accomplishment, but are also now competing against themselves in their fight to the top in 2020. The rise of the program has not only captivated the community, but also the members themselves.
“This has been an amazing year for the Jasper Dancer program,” said Draya Fletcher, a senior on the team. “Coming into the team freshman year, I never thought this would be the legacy that I would leave behind. A national title, a New York City Hall proclamation, and a banner hanging in Draddy. It all seems so surreal. This title and these recognitions means that our program is growing and will continue to grow with the support of the community and the dedication of the dancers who have a name to live up to. This is just the start for our program and I am beyond excited to see how the program continues to grow long after I have graduated.”