Alyssa showing off her national champion dance team jacket. (Photo By: Nicole Damico, Towson University student.)

Alyssa Torre, 20, a junior at Towson University began dancing at two years old. From a young age it was easy to see dance was her passion. Alyssa was also a gymnast and cheerleader growing up, but dance was always something special to her. After years of being a competitive dancer, Alyssa wanted to continue her dance career in college and looked to be a part of the 17-time national championship winning Towson University Dance Team. Through grueling auditions and callbacks, Alyssa pushed herself to be the best dancer she could be in order to make the team, and in April of 2015 Alyssa got a call from the Towson University Dance Team coach asking her to join the team.

“I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe that I made it,” Alyssa said. “After I got the phone call from Tom [Cascella], my dance teacher and I started immediately hugging and celebrating. It was a proud moment.”

“This team taught me how to work harder than I ever thought I could,” said Jennifer Navarrete, an alumni and former captain of the Towson University Dance Team.

Jennifer began training as a captain her sophomore year on the team and has helped the team win two national titles.

The Towson University Dance Team, coached by Tom Cascella and Laura King is known in the dance world as one of the top college dance team programs. With multiple consecutive wins at NDA College Nationals, the team has inspired many other college dance teams throughout the years to push themselves to be the best they can be. To be a part of the team is a huge commitment. The team practices four times two times during the week and both Saturdays and Sundays. Although it is time consuming, the team is always working to be the best and preparing for Nationals.

Each performance for the team is treated as if it were their final Nationals performance, so the pressure is always on. It takes a not only a talented dancer, but also a tough dancer to be able to get through the physically and mentally challenging practices and performances.

“The reason it’s so hard is because we practice to be perfect,” Alyssa said “If you don’t do something perfectly the first time, you practice it again and again.”

Because the team has this mindset, they have a very strong work ethic and expect each member to work to their full potential at each and every practice.

People may not understand why the team trains so hard throughout the year for one routine that is two minutes long, but that performance is everything for Alyssa and the other dancers on the team. Even though she has practice four days of the week, Alyssa will still spend time outside of practice working on her skills on her own time so she can become a stronger and better all-around dancer.

Although the dance team takes up a lot of Alyssa’s time, she still finds a way to be a part of other groups on Towson’s campus. She is the active vice president of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Club as well as having a job at Bill Bateman’s. She also finds time to spend hours in the library studying and working on school work in between practices, a job and vice president duties.

“Practices are very hard, to say the least,” Alyssa said “The team pushes you to your limit, but it has given me life-long friends [and] taught me how to prioritize and organize my time, and how to work really hard.”

Jennifer, Alyssa’s former captain, has even talked to her how the team has prepared her for the real world.

“I’ve told Alyssa, and some of the other girls on the team, how the dance team mentally prepared me to be able to handle anything in life.” Jennifer said. “This team changed me so much.”

“Towson [has] a great dance team and I knew that it was something I wanted to be a part of.” Alyssa said about continuing her dancing throughout her college career.