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The Few And Far Between: The Freshmen On The Dance Floor

Being selected as a dancer for THON is an incredible honor, but being granted this privilege as a freshman is practically unheard of. We tracked down two freshmen, out of the 708 dancers that are on the floor this weekend – practically a needle in a haystack in the chaos in the BJC.


Freshmen dancers Stephanie, top, and Alyse, bottom

Though both Stephanie and Alyse came to University Park this weekend from commonwealth campuses, their roads to THON are as unique as they are. Stephanie, a Culinary Arts major, and Alyse, a Business major, get to experience THON in a way that so few do as freshman: dancing 46 hours FTK.
We asked Stephanie and Alyse some questions to try to gauge what it’s like to be new to college, new to THON as a student, and new on the floor this year.

Onward State: Where are you from and who are you representing?
Stephanie Myers: Penn College of Technology, and I’m dancing for Penn College Benefitting THON.
Alyse Phillips: Penn State Altoona, dancing for Altoona Benefiting THON.

OS: Have you ever been to THON before this year?
SM: No, this is my first time at THON.
AP: Yes, actually. My brother was a captain, so I was here with him for a couple years.

OS: What did you expect and how did you prepare?
SM: I wasn’t sure what to expect. I asked some friends who were in THON previously what it was going to be like, and they helped prepare me pretty well.
AP: I had only seen THON for two or three hours at a time previously, so dancing as well as being a student is a whole new world. It was really different than just coming to support my brother (THON dancer alumna).

OS: What has been the biggest “wow” moment for you so far?
SM: I think the Line Dance – I love the Line Dance.
AP: Definitely the Human Tunnel, especially when you see your moraler and all these people that you know at the beginning of it. Then, entering the BJC, there’s even more Human Tunnel. It was crazy walking in – everything was lit up and the diamond was turned on, it was crazy.

OS: How are you feeling so far? What’s keeping you going?
SM: I keep moving – the dancing is keeping me awake, as well as hanging out with other dancers and people on the floor and in the halls.
AP: Definitely my moraler, he’s been awesome. The bouncy balls and yo-yos and all the little things I’ve been given, as well as just moving around. Also, a lot of peanut butter and banana sandwiches and water, as well as changing my clothes often to keep me feeling refreshed.

OS: Any strategy going into the weekend?
SM: I made sure I avoided all caffeine for the entire week, I just drank water all week. I like my sugar, so I had to make a point to avoid it in preparation.
AP: I cut all caffeine, started eating healthy and working out. I also knew coming into the weekend that I’d have to take it slow and easy and try to save my energy for when I think it’s getting later in the weekend.

OS: Do you have any special visitors coming throughout the weekend?
SM: My parents, my brother, and my sister will be coming to visit me, as well as possibly my aunt, my uncle, and my grandparents. I’m not sure when they’ll be here, but it’ll be nice to see them whenever they show up.
AP: My brother was already here for a while and my parents just got here but won’t be on the floor for a while. I’m also expecting my roommate and a couple friends.

OS: How did you find out that you were going to be dancing, and what was that like?
SM: I got the text message after a class, so I was a little shocked at first, but then I got really excited.
AP: It was a very rigorous, 15 page application and an interview. One night, the executive director and some of the other dancers showed up at my door and congratulated me on being a dancer. Of course I cried and screamed…and they video tapped it. It was a huge surprise.

OS: How does it feel to be a freshmen out there with all the other dancers?
SM: I feel very honored. I know that not a lot of freshmen get this opportunity, but I’m happy to be one of those few.
AP: I didn’t think it was a big deal until I got here — I thought there would be more freshmen dancing. Now that I’m here I realize that I’m surrounded by mostly juniors and seniors and some sophomores.

Worth noting:
Stephanie is one of Penn College Benefiting THON’s two dancers, and the only freshman. She is the first in her family to be involved with THON and attend Penn State or a Penn State commonwealth campus.
Alyse is one of Altoona Benefitting THON’s seven dancers. She knew she had to be a part of THON ever since visiting her brother and being hit with the “huge energy” that accompanies Penn State’s THON.

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About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.

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