The Sassy Cats Dance Team competed and won second place in the PBC Spirit Competition at USC-Aiken on Feb. 25, all without a adviser.
Their recognized student organization (RSO) adviser, Doris Henderson, quit Feb. 15, the Thursday before the competition.
Henderson left the dance team without an adviser, without uniforms and without knowledge of how to handle administrative tasks, several members of the team said.
“She definitely left us on bad terms, and it seemed like she was trying to sabotage us as well,” said senior Olivia Freeman, co-captain of the Sassy Cats and a nursing major. “She didn’t give us any information and also was trying not to give us the costumes we ordered, and she completely stopped talking to the captain and [me]. She made it difficult to succeed.”
Henderson could not be reached for a comment.
Bert Rosenberger, GC’s director of recreational sports, said while it isn’t uncommon for advisers to quit, it is uncommon for them to quit in the middle of the season.
“We often have turnover in advisers from year to year due to various circumstances, but it is uncommon for it to occur during the middle of the year like this,” Rosenberger said.
Sassy Cats captain Jennifer Harris, a sophomore exercise science major, said she believes Henderson quit because she felt out of the loop and excluded from important decisions the captains were making for the team.
“She said it was because she felt she wasn’t being included in all of the decisions, but part of that was because she was going through a lot, so she wasn’t really present at practices and stuff,” Harris said. “I had to make decisions for the team in the heat of the moment, so she was hurt by that.”
Because the Sassy Cats are an RSO, Henderson didn’t have the same responsibilities as a coach.
“Coaches are more involved in the sport specific training side,” Rosenberger said. “An adviser helps clubs navigate the administrative and policy side of being an RSO.”
The Sassy Cats contacted GC’s cheerleading coach Kirstie Murner, who agreed to act as an adviser on their trip and handle administrative tasks.
“We already had our routine together,” Harris said. “So we talked to the cheer coach, and she took on the responsibility of being the adviser for our trips and handling administrative tasks.”
Along with leaving the team days before the competition, Henderson attempted to take the costumes they ordered and told the team members to order their own.
“She had our costumes, so we had to battle with her about that,” Harris said. “She ended up letting us use them, but it was just worrisome because it was so close, and she told us we had to order our own costumes three days before we had to leave.”
Rosenberger said that many club sports advisers buy uniforms for their team and then later get reimbursed by the school.
“Typically, [Henderson] would buy things for the club with her own money, and then she would get reimbursed from the club or school,” Rosenberger said. “This is not uncommon for a club adviser.”
Once at the competition, the Sassy Cats found out that their coach hadn’t turned in some of the registration forms, which almost prevented them from competing.
“When we went to the competition, there were things like verification of the music and register forms that we didn’t know anything about,” Freeman said. “She literally left us and didn’t say a word about it, but we were able to pull through and get through it.”
Though the road to second place was more difficult than they had hoped for, the team is proud of their trophy.
“Overall, the team really had each other’s backs and made sure everyone needed to be doing what they were doing and helping each other with difficult sections,” said junior Taylor Luedy, Sassy Cats dancer and psychology major. “On this team, we really are a family, and times like this are when it truly shows.”