SunDancers Form Sunny Studs Spirit Group

By Katie Hendler, Yearbooker

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  • Laney Popps ’21 dances to the band performing “Runaway Baby”. The SunDancers have been working on this stand routine since the very beginning of the school year, and are very excited to show off their skills.

    Photo By Katie Hendler

  • SunDancers sit in the stands, eyes on the field, preparing to perform their stand routines. The dancers pay attention to the band’s signals, to know which dance to perform, as soon as the band starts.

    Photo By Katie Hendler

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Cheers and excitement fill the stands as the football team runs through the inflatable teepee, one of the many traditions surrounding high school sports. Some teams do chants before games, some listen to a specific song, and every male’s team at Westwood has a spirit group to bake for them before every game. The football team has Spirit Girls and the soccer team has Soccer Sweethearts.The female teams, like SunDancers, have had no similar tradition. SunDancers support each other, with sister/ squad gifts but have had no tradition where their peers recognize their work in a similar manner as the sports teams. Starting this year, SunDancers have created a new spirit group, similar to male sport teams called Sunny Studs.

“I decided to start Sunny Studs because we realized that a lot of other organizations had it and we wanted to be a part of the tradition,” Greta Mock ‘22, founder of Sunny Studs said. “I also wanted to start Sunny Studs because I wanted the girls on the team to feel loved and appreciated, and I feel like having their friends and other people bake for them would make them feel special.”

Unlike the men’s sports teams’ spirit groups, Sunny Studs allows both males and females to bake for their dancer. Originally, it was called Sunny Dudes, but the name was changed to make the group gender inclusive.

“I think making sure that everyone knew it did not have to be the opposite gender was important. Different people have different preferences on who they would like to choose so I made it strictly up to the dancer. I know that historically, people would pick someone of the opposite gender, but I made sure that everyone felt comfortable with the person they were choosing,” Mock said. “Sunny Studs is something that I want dancers to feel appreciated with, not intimidated, so if allowing girls and boys to be studs helps break the barrier, I am all for it.” 

Dancers and studs have faced some difficulties initiating this new tradition, especially because of the pandemic, but everyone is working hard while simultaneously having fun baking for their friends.

“During COVID, everything has been harder so this has been harder also but it’s worth it for the SunDancers. I think I will learn what works for me and how to stay safe while doing this. I’m very excited for what we will be doing in the future,” Sunny Dandapantula ‘22 , who has signed up to be a stud, said. 

Now, the spirit groups are viewed as less of a gender biased tradition, and more like groups of students supporting their peers. The dancers and studs are all very enthusiastic about starting this tradition, as the SunDancers receive the recognition for their performances that they have been waiting for. Over the years, SunDancers have won countless awards for their excellence, in many competitions, yet until now, the school has rarely come together to celebrate the team.