Not a traditional senior Fall Dance season, but a memorable one 


Alaina Rietmann, Staff Writer

Three seniors, Grace Larson, Naomi Reinalda, and Kayla Essig had waited their entire middle school and high school career to be able to perform one last time for the audience at Mayo High School’s football game. This dream of theirs was surprisingly short-lived when the COVID-19 pandemic made typical life nearly impossible. 

In the fall of 2020, without the availability of working together in large groups, these seniors had hoped that one day their season would come, and that it was all simply a matter of time. With a combined six years of experience on the varsity fall dance team, Larson, Reinalda, and Essig were looking forward to their final season more than ever; as in most sports, the “senior season” is the most anticipated of them all. However, the three dancers soon discovered that they would be unable to continue their performances, which was heartbreaking enough, until they realized that the other Rochester Public High Schools would have a season, and they would not. 

Unfortunately for these dancers, their season lies in conjunction with the football season, as they perform at the football games. The disappointment began on August 4th, when the board member of the Minnesota Sports High School League voted to move football to the spring. While this was a disheartening decision, the extra given time meant the Mayo Fall Dance team had more preparation time to select a well-rounded team and craft excellent routines. 

This decision was only to be shortly repealed, with the new decision that football games would be held with strict guidelines and restrictions that would completely limit the dance team’s ability to have a season that was worth the struggles they’d endure. Senior Kayla Essig explained, “the decision to have a fall football season was brought up fairly late. We had already planned that football was going to be moved to the spring, so we put a halt to all planning of tryouts and choreography of dances. When the new plan came out we didn’t have anything ready and thought it would be best to try not to perform something that wouldn’t have been our best work.” 

The Mayo High School Fall dance team held themselves to a very high standard, and weren’t ashamed to admit that they had an unrealistic amount of time to put together dance routines that they would feel proud performing. As senior Grace Larson said “it really came down to weighing the pros and cons of having the season and realized the workload would be very intense to only perform three times, and not even be able to perform in front of our parents.” 

This decision, as part of the MSHSL announcement to continue fall sports, did not consider the fall dance team’s involvement in the football season, and only allowed parents of the football players to enter the stadium. With all these circumstances, the team decided not to continue their 2020 season.      

Unfortunately for these seniors, they were the only high school in Rochester not afforded the opportunity to perform. Century and John Marshall Fall Dance teams continued their season, but how? Kayla Essig explained “the other schools were able to perform simply because they were probably more prepared.” While these three seniors are understandingly upset about these circumstances, it’s not all for the worst, Naomi Reinalda explained “I always look forward to fall dance, but with it being such an altered season, we knew it wouldn’t have felt the same.” While it appears these seniors drew the short end of the stick, they remain hopeful that next year’s team can carry on their legacy. 

Essig, Larson, and Reinalda were all selected to be captains for the 2020 season, along with seniors Autumn Busse and Ella Brazell, and while this was an emotional season for them, it wasn’t quite in the way they expected. Essig explained “Fall Dance is one of my favorite activities I’ve ever done, and I’ve been waiting to have a senior season for quite some time. Hearing my name come over the loudspeaker was something I dreamed of and never got to hear. I am devastated about missing my senior season, but am glad I got to be on the team the last few years and it is way better to be safe than sorry.” 

With the promise of being captains, this experience was even more emotional and difficult than it otherwise would have been. Essig also stated, “being a captain is something I never really feel like I got to be, but for a short moment I’m glad I got to be somewhat in charge and someone for other people to look up to.” These seniors are handling themselves maturely and are very understanding of their circumstances, which is quite impressive given their untimely and unfortunate situation.