The Fordham Dance Team’s March to D1 Status Continues

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COURTESY OF GILLIAN RUSSO

Fordham’s dance team, based at the Rose Hill campus, is currently working toward becoming a Division I team.

By PATRICK MOQUIN

It once seemed like the Fordham dance team’s promotion from a club sport to a Division I (D1) program was inevitable. But in a pandemic and on a tightened budget, both the administration and the athletic department have had to delay this decision. For now, they’re still a club sport, working tirelessly to realize a dream left unfulfilled for too long.

For the second straight year, Taylor Masi, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’22, has been named captain of the dance team, and ever since taking this position, she and her teammates have been working toward one goal: becoming a certified D1 team.

“During the summer, the other captains and I worked with the athletics department to increase our program’s status,” Masi said. “The girls and I were incredibly excited to find out we are on the road to becoming a D1 team.”

The difference between a D1 team and club team comes down to what that team can afford to do. Right now, the dance team performs at home games for football and basketball, as well as local events at Fordham or nearby. However, as a D1 program, they could travel with the teams for away games and compete in dance competitions against other universities.

To an individual that claims our progressing status is less than that of another team, I would say we deserve to be up there because we give so much of our dedication to supporting the school we love and practice hard and long hours each week to improve ourselves. Taylor Masi, FCRH ’22 and dance team captain

At one point, Masi and the team considered this fall to be a possible time for the team’s promotion. However, several obstacles have come up that have relegated them to at least another semester as a club sport. The pandemic has diminished the role of athletics on campus, which has in turn affected the money Fordham can afford to spend. Without many traditional revenue streams coming in, fielding a new team could be more difficult.

Beyond the current state of athletics, the most significant issue concerns Title IX guidelines, which state that colleges must field the same number of men’s and women’s sports teams. This law was originally made to prevent institutions from discriminating against women’s athletics, but in this case, it impedes the all-women’s dance team. To earn their promotion, they now need the university to make further changes within the larger athletic department to accommodate them.

Regardless of the challenges ahead, Masi and the rest of the dance team continue working to improve. Most Fordham students see the dance team at football and basketball games, but as an independent organization, cheering on other athletic teams is only part of their role on campus.

“We love performing and cheering our teams on, but we also love to do events individually,” Masi said. “We have done many community service events in the past, including performing for Autism Speaks on campus, performing during the Fordham Dance Marathon event to raise money for pediatric cancer and traveling to local schools in the Bronx to dance with the children.”

The pandemic has halted their activity along with the rest of the athletic department, but when action resumes next month, they hope to find some way to return as well. Tryouts have continued virtually, with many students submitting videos instead of appearing in person. 

Through a host of challenges, the dance team continues to work and improve their status and reputation on campus. Recognizing them as a D1 sport would be a sign from the administration that the team’s passion for Fordham is equal to that of the very athletic teams they cheer on.

“To an individual that claims our progressing status is less than that of another team, I would say we deserve to be up there because we give so much of our dedication to supporting the school we love and practice hard and long hours each week to improve ourselves,” Masi said.

For a club program that appears most often on the sidelines, it may be time for the dance team to finally take center stage.