(Dance) dreams really do come true

Caroline Tollar (‘20) earns first place at Midwest Grand Championships

Tollar+poses+with+her+trophies+after+her+success+at+the+awards+ceremony
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(Dance) dreams really do come true

Tollar poses with her trophies after her success at the awards ceremony

Tollar poses with her trophies after her success at the awards ceremony

Submitted by Caroline Tollar

Tollar poses with her trophies after her success at the awards ceremony

Submitted by Caroline Tollar

Submitted by Caroline Tollar

Tollar poses with her trophies after her success at the awards ceremony

Neha Ajjampore, Visual Director

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Caroline Tollar (‘20) was six years old when she first began dancing. In seventh grade, she picked up a pair of pom-poms and began participating in competitions. But her freshman year became a pivotal point in Tollar’s dancing career, when she joined the Lancerettes and started competing in Badgerette competitions.

Badgerette Pom Pon Inc., the Wisconsin-based pom and dance camp company, hosts annual events for those interested in competing in solo or team performances. The largest of these events is the 2019 Midwest Grand Championship, which was held in mid-August this year in Illinois. It hosted over 100 participants, each vying for the title of Miss Badgerette 2019. The process leading up to the final awards ceremony is a grueling one — out of the 100 soloists who perform on the first day, the top twenty are selected to appear in front of a panel of judges and an audience. The competition is narrowed down to 10, and then to six; these six are asked to perform once again and answer an on-the-spot question. Finally, the awards ceremony is held on the last day of the competition, and te final rankings are announced in front
of the entire crowd.

After earning first place overall in her grade and first place in the top ten, Tollar was well on her way to the top six. “I was crying because my dream has always been to be the Miss Badgerette of the Midwest,” Tollar reflects, “and it felt like I was getting a little bit closer.” But the moment of truth came during the awards ceremony, when placements were declared. At the very end, two competitors remained, Tollar and Olivia Short, a junior from Pinckney High School in Michigan. Tollar recalls the moment just before second place was announced: “I looked out and saw my whole team with smiles on their faces, and I knew they would be supportive no matter which place I get.”

Short’s name was called for second place, which could only mean one thing: Tollar had won the number
one spot at the 2019 Midwest Grand Championships Final. As she was presented with a sash, a trophy, and a bouquet of flowers, Tollar admits that her emotions were running high. “I couldn’t help but cry in front of this whole gym filled with dancers and parents,” she says. “It was truly an amazing experience and
definitely very emotional.” This feat did not come easy. Tollar remembers when she had to power through an injury in order to advance in the competition: “I had severely sprained my ankle so I had to dance the whole summer on it. My coach was always telling me to sit out and that even at Midwest I shouldn’t dance, but […] I knew had to give it my all and not let my ankle get in the way of what I love to do.”

Fortunately, she was able to recover and perform to the best of her abilities, eventually earning herself the Miss Badgerette title. Tollar also credits her achievement to her fellow teammates on the Lancerettes dance team. She describes the team as a sisterhood, stating, “The friendships I have made on this team will truly last forever…I couldn’t imagine my life without the 30 other amazing girls on my team.”

Furthermore, she mentions that her team is her motivation for doing her best and fighting through their mutual exhaustion. “I have a team who now look up to me since I’m a senior,” she explains. “I need to be a good role model for them.” Moving forward, Tollar is excited to perform her solo in future competitions (including next year’s Midwest Grand Championships, which she will no longer be participating in due to her graduating high school) and at Disney World. She also intends to commit to dance through college and as a possible career because, as she puts it, “I can’t imagine my life without it.”