The Axes!: Dance team for Axemen, all BSU students, are having fun with energetic job
When the idea of the Axemen first came to Bemidji, not many people knew a dance team would become part of the Indoor Football League franchise.
Cassandra Schram and Kristi Reid were two such people, but now they are the coaches of the first-year dance team, the Axes.
With much learning and two weekly practices, the Axes dance team has become a group of 12 strong dancers who are learning how to catch the crowd’s attention.
At each game, the dance team enters the field for the pre-game show on motorcycles. In one word, the atmosphere can be described as “energetic.”
“The crowd is a lot different than I’m used too — they are involved and really loud,” said Meghan Herron, one of the Axes.
The Axes, who all happen to be Bemidji State University students this year, have varied backgrounds, from cheering to figure skating to gymnastics to show choir and dancing. But all have performance experience.
Schram and Reid both are gymnasts, so they are incorporating those moves into the Axes’ dances.
“Last game, we got to do aerials,” said Sydney Wold, Axes team member.
After entering on the motorcycles, the Axes typically perform a dance, always offering something new.
“We learn two dances every game, so we are constantly challenging ourselves to new moves and routines,” said Mariah Moen, Axes dance team captain.
Each game plan, which is scheduled to the minute, consists of a similar pattern. After the pre-game dance, “Half of us at one point go and do promotions and find people from the crowd while the other half is doing dance combos in the stands,” said Wold.
No matter what song is playing, which the group has no control over, the Axes have to be able to perform. “Our captains will discreetly tell the group what they are going to do and they have to start (at) the same time and end at the same time,” Reid said.
The biggest challenge the team faces is being able to adapt to the football turf. The team typically practices in a dance studio or in a hallway area on the BSU campus.
“It gives the dance a whole new feel because we are used to practicing on wood floor,” Moen said.
And games are quite different from practices.
“It’s not the same with the fog and lights shining on them and the glitter,” Reid said.
The reaction from both the fans and Axemen leadership has been encouraging.
“After games, the football team always make sure to come over and take pictures with us, and tell us that they are our No. 1 fans,” Herron said.
“I was at church the Sunday after the last game, and people that I didn’t know saw my dance director jacket and they had positive feedback,” Schram said.
Nevertheless, both Schram and Reid have big goals for the team this season. The team is hoping to be named the best dance team of the year, an Indoor Football League award, but also hopes to just keep getting better each and every game.
“If we look back even to tryouts, there has been so much improvement and everything is a learning experience,” Reid said.
The trend right now for IFL dance teams is for a two-piece uniform, often full of glitter and sparkles. The Axes’ uniforms are silver.
Both coaches would also like to see the team be able to get another set of uniforms before the season is over. “We would like to be able to mix it up,” Reid said.
This goal and several others are being made possible through the team’s sponsors. Currently, Del Sol Tanning, X Static Salon and Snap Fitness are sponsors of the team, providing the dancers a place to tan, people to do their hair and makeup for each game and a place to work out. American Family Insurance has also sponsored the team’s new warm-up suits.
And the adrenaline rush of each game is a new feeling for everyone involved.
“Seeing the crowd gets you pumped up and I have never seen the Sanford Center do the wave before (now),” Reid said.