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UW Dance Team Celebrates 45 Years

It was the Spring of 1967. There was a new spirit in the air.

Angela Burroughs '97
October 01, 2012

UW Dance Team Alumni Association President Angela Burroughs '97 shares her excitement about 45 years of Badger spirit.

It was the Spring of 1967. There was a new spirit in the air. Kim (Kotora) Criter had gone to the Athletic Department to convince the powers that be there was a need for a Pom Pon Squad at the University of Wisconsin. She wasn’t sure if this would really take shape, but with the help of Assistant Athletic Director, Oscar Damman the UW Athletic Department was very receptive.

The 1967 UW Pom Pon Squad was lead by Captain Kim (Kotora) Criter and Co-Captain Sally (Godenrath) Kirkham. Together, they would start a new UW tradition to last a lifetime. Since all of the other Big Ten schools had Pom Pon Squads, it seemed only natural plus another way to involve more female students in Badger Athletics. Formal tryouts were held May 19th, which allowed time for summer practice clinics prior to Badger Football season. By Fall, the buzz was all over campus. This new Pom Pon Squad would make their debut against Arizona State.

UW Pom Pon Squad Team Photo, 1967
UW Pom Pon Squad Team Photo, 1967

“The idea will start modestly at Wisconsin. The girls will supply their own uniforms and the Athletic Department will buy the pom poms. The girls will perform only at home games in 1967, but Kim hopes the idea will be so successful; it will grow.” per Wisconsin State Journal May 16, 1967 article titled Vivacious UW Co-ed Recruits Pompom Girls.

Imagine if that never took place. There would be decades of lost opportunities for over 260 student athletes. The UW Pom Pon Squad has spent numerous hours at football and basketball games; and even hockey and soccer games up until the mid nineties. In addition to performing at these UW sporting events, the squad members are ambassadors representing the University of Wisconsin at various public relations and community service events throughout the State plus every Bowl Game and Rose Bowl Parade. Their fans love them and even one fan decided to join them, the “Portage Plummer” in 1976.

As time has ticked by the last 45 years, there have also been many changes in the squad itself. Of course, the uniform shirts are shorter and the poms are smaller. But the biggest change was in their name. “The Poms” as they were known for the first thirty years, formally changed their name to the UW Dance Team. Rightly so, they started taking a more prominent role in Division 1 Collegiate Competitions starting in the early nineties. Since 2001, the UW Dance Team has consistently been ranked in the top ten at the UDA College Dance Team National Championships.

In spite of the changes, there are still many common traditions performed year after year such as Union South’s Badger Bash, Football pregame performance, “Drumbeat” dance routine, Basketball pregame performance, and more. But, for all the current UW Dance Team members and the 260 Alumni, the routine to “On Wisconsin” will never fade.

During UW Homecoming Weekend (Oct. 26-27, 2012), the UW Dance Team Alumni Association will celebrate 45 years of their UW tradition with appearances in the Homecoming Parade and 5th Quarter. It is safe to say Kim and Sally’s idea way back on May 16, 1967 has grown into a huge success and a time honored UW Tradition. U-Rah-Rah…On Wisconsin!

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