Spirit Steppers place 2nd in competition

Spirit Steppers place 2nd in competition


MADISON – St. Joseph Catholic School’s Spirit Steppers dance team took home second place in the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools Spirit and Dance Competition recently, which was the team’s second time ever competing statewide.

“The Spirit Steppers are like my second family. If I’ve had a bad day at school, my teammates are there for me,” said Gia Picarella, a St. Joe junior who is a member of the Spirit Steppers, and the daughter of Manuella Picarella. “We were stunned when we got second. It took a while for it to set in. All our hard work and extra practices paid off.”

The MAIS Spirit and Dance Competition invites schools from throughout Mississippi to show their dancing talent. St. Joe took second place out of seven competing schools. St. Aloysius Catholic School won first place.

Manuella Picarella, director of the Spirit Steppers, said the Spirit Steppers worked hard and did very well for their second competition, the first being the Mississippi High School Activities Association dance competition in 2019.

“We decided to enter in the ‘Pom’ division, where we danced with synchronized movements with pom-poms,” Manuella Picarella said. “I chose to use two poms with different colors for visual effects. I was able to spotlight the individuals on the team, and as a unit, we carried our skills together.”

Manuella Picarella said she felt the girls would do their best with the pom-poms due to the amount of time to prepare.

“Normally, the competition is in October, but it was in August this year,” Picarella said. “Not only did we join a new organization, but we also had the time crunch of August. The girls are hard workers and put in a lot of effort. I have two volleyball players, three soccer players, and two softball players on the team as well. We’ll be competing in the MAIS competition next year and hope to come back with first place.”

Tricia Harris, advancement director at St. Joe and assistant to Picarella, said the competition was a full day of cheer and dance with thousands of people watching. 

“Our girls participated in the ‘Pom’ routine for around two minutes,” Harris said. “It was an exciting day to be there since we ranked second. It was an exciting day to be there, and the girls enjoyed it thoroughly. The Spirit Steppers program is great, and Coach Picarella is amazing with the girls. She’s a phenomenal coach.”

Gia Picarella said the Spirit Steppers took on some good schools that provided great competition. 

“My favorite part of the competition was watching the other teams perform,” Gia Picarella said. “I love dancing, as it’s a good stress reliever for me, and watching other people dance. We are taking part in next year’s competition, and we want to bring home first place.”

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