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Passion for dance motivates PSU team
Pitt State sophomore Bailey Cummins (center) practices with the PSU Dance Team outside of Carnie Smith Stadium. The team is excited to show off its new routines this season.

Passion for dance motivates PSU team

By the time she enrolled as an elementary education major at Pittsburg State, Bailey Cummins was done with dancing.

She had danced since she was 3 years old, following in the footsteps of her older sisters. She had danced all through high school in Neosho, Mo., and she just felt like she’d had enough.

“I was hesitant to dance at PSU,” Cummins, a sophomore, said. “I was worn out.”

Worn out not just by the dancing part, but also with a medical issue that plagued her most of her life.

“Growing up, I always had problems with my kidneys and bladder,” she said. “I was told my right kidney was way smaller than a normal bladder should be, and it didn’t function properly. I’d always struggle with getting overheated and pretty serious bladder issues.”

Then, during a routine check-up, Cummins was told her right kidney was gone. Missing. Disappeared.

“During an ultrasound, I was told they couldn’t find my right kidney,” she said. “They determined that my body recognized that it wasn’t being used, and it just sort of absorbed into my bloodstream. They told me the body is kinda cool like that. 

Tired, burnt out with dancing, and now missing one kidney, Cummins had no plans to dance at Pitt State.

“But then my mom told me it would be a great way to get involved on campus and meet new people,” Cummins said. “So, I tried it. And after one year, I didn’t want to stop.”

With college football season under way, Cummins and the Pitt State Dance Team are excited to show their passion for dance.

“The games are the best part of being a dancer,” she said. “The atmosphere at Carnie Smith Stadium is incredible. We’re not like other Division II schools. It’s special here, and that’s what makes dancing for PSU so much fun.”

Freshman Mary Kate Parsons agrees.

“I can remember coming to football games when I was a little kid, and my favorite part was always watching the dancers,” Parsons, a Frontenac native, said. “I love the Gorilla spirit. The environment here is amazing. People come here from all over the world to attend school here and also to support the university.”

Parsons said she chose Pitt State for its nursing program, but the danceprogram was also a major selling point.

“I wanted to be a nursing major, and I love the PSU program,” she said. “I’ve also danced my whole life, and I have a true passion for it. So being able to come to a great school and also have the opportunity to dance is wonderful.”

Dance Team Coach Shelly Grimes said she gets just as excited as the dancers.

"I am truly excited for our upcoming Dance Team season, as we are happy to support our PSU football and basketball teams on the front lines and create an awesome Game Day experience for our fans," Grimes said. "I have a group of fabulous young ladies who are passionate about dance and the Gorillas. Catch us dancing at Gorilla Village for the traditional pre-game pep rally and at halftime, as we perform with the incredible PSU Band."

Idalis Bird, a senior exercise science major from Paola, is captain of the Dance Team. She said being a PSU dancer has helped her overall university experience. 

“I’ve done so much more than I would have done if I wasn’t on the team,” she said. “I’ve been involved in the community and attended many events that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve felt more a part of our campus and our community through dance team activities.

“Being a captain is a true honor,” she said. “Leading this group of amazing young women is a lot of fun, and I’m super excited to see where it goes.”

Junior exercise sience major Abby Welcher said dancing has been a part of her PSU education.

“You don’t just learn in the classroom,” she said. “Everything you do at PSU is a learning experience. Being on the dance team has helped me with time management and also with just learning more about the university and the city.

“I’m a more well-rounded person because of my dance experience,” she said.

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