by Richard O’Neil, CPA (and proud Grandpa to one of the team members)

Can the Casa Grande Dream Team really make dreams come true? This team of young Casa Grande dancers formed in August of 2015 with three goals in mind – to fulfill their own dreams of competing on an international stage, to take the hopes and dreams of Casa Grande with them and to inspire all of Casa Grande to believe in their dreams.

In the words of 12-year-old team co-captain Faith Owen, “This goal may sound lofty, but we are no strangers to national competition. Among the eight members of this team, we hold 14 national championship titles.” Those words may sound a bit precocious coming from a little girl whose teammates nicknamed her “small fry,” but when you realize that same little girl has five national championship medals hanging around her neck, you realize she has the ability to back up every word.

It’s not all about them 

Ashley Fisher who is 15 years old and a two- time national champion says, “We are competitive dancers, but that is not what this team is all about. Dance is our method of communication, but our mission is to get out a message. That message is to believe in your dreams and to work together with others to make your dreams come true.”

How did these kids get so good? 

The answer is twofold – hard work and coaching staff. Coaches Carrie Galle and Kimberly Hurtado have waived all fees to coach the team. Although that is very generous, it is not surprising given these two have been training most of the girls since they were little more than toddlers.Coach Galle has a national reputation. In the days when she was a young girl competing, she won gymnastic state championships in both Arizona and California. In total, the athletes she has trained have won over 200 regional awards, eleven state championships, and nineteen national championships. Coach Hurtado is multitalented. She coaches, choreographs, and designs costuming. Many of her costumes have earned perfect scores in competition.

The team is seeking to be chosen to represent the United States in The Dance Worlds Competition hosted by the U.S. All Star Federation. The girls will be competing in the national championships of three different competitive associations. During each of these national championships a limited number of outstanding teams will be chosen to represent the United States at The Dance Worlds competition. The Dance Worlds competition will be held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort & Convention Center. More than 12,500 performers from more than 40 different countries will compete. Portions of the competition will be covered by ESPN.

Is it an impossible dream?

The greatest of all dreams must seem impossible in the beginning. Yet, these young ladies have ignited a freight train of support from the community, ranging from a homeless man who donated five dollars to Doug and Shannon Wells, a California couple who will host the team during two of the competitions in their palatial home on the edge of Canyon Lake. To say they have inspired the community is an understatement. David Owen, principle of Cactus Middle School said, “These girls have garnered a great deal of attention. They have handled it great. They have become role models to the entire school.”

The entire team contracted the flu, with fevers breaking only days before they took the stage in their first competition. Despite coughs, sniffles, and watery eyes, the team took third in the nation. Yet, they failed to gain the illusive world bid. There are two competitions remaining. The team’s health is rapidly improving.

Can they do it? An anxious Casa Grande hopes and watches.