Local girls dance at Outback Bowl

From left to right: Jessie Behrle, Shae Brown, Kayla Woods, Amber Neilsen, Faryn Fryer, Hannah Wallace, and AnnMarie Yednak. (Contributed)

By NICOLE LOGGINS / Staff Writer

A group of seven girls from Dream Makers Dance in Columbiana made the 552-mile trek to Tampa, Fla. to perform at the Outback Bowl during halftime on Jan. 2.

Jenny Lespi has been the sponsor of the after-school dance program at Elvin Hill Elementary since it started 15 years ago and this year was the first time she has had a dance team perform at a bowl game.

Dream Makers Dance was one of only two groups invited to perform from the state. There are 100 dancers at Dream Makers Dance, 18 of those dancers were approved to dance at the bowl game, but only seven were able to make the trip to Tampa.

Jessie Behrle, Shae Brown, Kayla Woods, Amber Neilsen, Faryn Fryer, Hannah Wallace and AnnMarie Yednak represented Shelby County at the bowl game.

“We made the journey from a gym where we have basically nothing to the Outback Bowl in Tampa,” Lespi said. “It was an incredible journey.”

The girls enjoyed trips to Disney, Busch Gardens, the beach and a New Years Eve party during their time in Tampa. However, according to Lespi, the girls made it a point to practice every day before they went on their outings.

“I’m so proud of them. They behaved like model citizens,” she said.

Lespi credits the community education program for enabling Elvin Hill to have a dance program.

“We couldn’t do anything without community education,” Lespi said. “For five days a week from 3 to 6 p.m. the gym is our dance studio.”

The local dancers were also named as a part of the Just For Kix 2012 National Dance Team.