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Wanda McKinney says her step team is ready to take on all challengers at a local competition this weekend in Heath Springs.
McKinney, who coaches the Buford Middle School step team, has her squad practicing every day after school in hopes of producing a top showing during the first ever Carolinas Steppers step-off competition, at 4 p.m. Saturday at Heath Springs Elementary School.
The Buford Middle step team, known as Next Faze, is one of six teams that have registered thus far for the competition, which will benefit the Military Spousal Support Center.
Teams from A.R. Rucker Middle and South Middle schools are also competing on Saturday.
“We’re practicing hard this week,” McKinney said. “They better be ready.”
The popularity of stepping, or step dancing, continues to rise in this area. The dance form, which traces its roots back to African tribal rituals, involves participants moving their entire bodies to create sounds and rhythms. Routines usually feature the use of speech, foot stomps and hand claps.
For Saturday’s competition, teams must feature between five and 10 performers, and each team’s routine has to be between five and 10 minutes.
Participants must be 18 or younger.
There will be two competition divisions – one for middle school children and another for high school teams. Trophies will be awarded to first-, second-, and third-place winners in each division.
Interested step teams can sign up for the competition through Friday, said Shirley King Miller, event organizer and founder of the Military Spousal Support Center.
The team registration fee in $35.
Teams may represent a school or other organization. Others teams are coming from Pageland, Columbia and Albemarle, N.C.
“I think it’s going to be a pretty good show,” said Miller said. “A lot of the local ones compete hard against each other.”
Admission to the event is $5. Food and beverages will be sold. There will also be entertainment during intermission, including an elementary step team performance, local JROTC drill demonstrations, singing and a martial arts display by Waiters Martial Arts in Kershaw.
A DJ from WPEG Power 98 in Charlotte will provide music throughout the event.
For details, call Miller at 804-8548.
The Military Spousal Support Center is also seeking registrants for a five-on-five basketball tournament that will be held April 25-27 in Charlotte.
The tournament, another fundraiser for the center, will feature teams comprised of military personnel and civilians, respectively.
More than 20 teams have signed up this far, though none are from Lancaster County. Organizers hope to get some local participation.
The entry fee is $300 per team. Trophies will be awarded at this event, as well.
Rosters must feature between five and 12 players, and all players must be out of high school.
Make checks payable to: Military Spousal Support Center P.O. Box 2805 Lancaster, SC 29721.