Beaverton football team bonds through traditional Greek dance

It’s almost football season at Beaverton High School, which means gridirons, grime, grit, girth and... Greek folk music?

Last Wednesday at BHS, the entire Beaver football team participated in a two-hour-long Greek folk dance lesson designed by Carla Johnson, an Asian and Middle Eastern dance instructor for Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District and her dance troupe.

Johnson showed the entire team of about 100 or so players two basic dance steps, and then broke the squad into smaller groups of 10 to 12. The units were spread out across the school gym and spilled into hallways, where they added their own choreography moves to the fundamentals. Johnson gave the guys permission to relate their dance moves to football TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beavertons William Pomee (center) and his dance troupe put on a high-flying show at Beaverton High last Wednesday.

“I’m not teaching them something that’s soft,” said Johnson. “They were able to pick up on the masculine parts and have a good time. A lot of folk dances are for men, so they can use some of those masculine, strong, effectual movements to work in this dance.”

With only two hours to put together a routine, the troops had to work hard together to achieve two objectives: get comfortable with uncomfortability and form cohesive units in a short amount of time.

“That’s that ‘There’s a minute to go, and we have to score to win the game.’ That’s that ‘We have to stop them to win the game’,” said head coach Bob Boyer. “It’s positions they haven’t been in. And, if they can handle these kinds of things, we’re hoping that can transfer over to the field.”

“It’s really bonding with our family,” said defensive lineman William Pomee. “At Beaverton High School, we work our best to become a family with all these activities we do to make us stronger in the gym, in class and on the field. We got to do this dance together and incorporate it as a team.”

After the separate teams reconvened in the gym, each group got up in front of a slew of parents, coaches and judges and performed moves they’d learned in a short amount of time. A majority of the groups mixed traditional Greek moves shown to them by Johnson with a little modern day TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - The Beaverton High football team put aside their personal comfort in name of team chemistry and Greek folk dance last Wednesday.

Some of the Beavers moonwalked across the parquet floor. Others ripped their shirts like the Incredible Hulk. Electric slides, cartwheels, flips, two-steps were intertwined with the Greek conventional, moving group circle. It was one-half “Fiddler on the Roof,” half Harlem Shake, all in the name of building team unity.

“As we danced, we got closer with our teammates,” said sophomore Daniel Paskar. “We got together as a group and as a team. We all became one.”

“This teaches them that they can work through things as a group,” said Johnson. “Your weakest (player) physically might be the one who comes up with the creative ideas that gets the team through something. Whereas the big guy can just bust through the line, maybe one of the less athletic can figure out a way to get around and through. It’s the same thing with their dancing. These guys come up with all kinds of creative stuff. It surprises me every year.”

Junior Chris Sigler and his group decided to do the “Flying V” formation instead of the circle that was en vogue with most of the Beavers. The Flying V, Sigler said, is a sign of dominance while the circle is frequently utilized. Sigler alleged their contrasting arrangement was an example of what Boyer is building in the Beaver program.

“We wanted to be unique and different from everybody else, and that’s kind of what Beaverton football is doing right now,” said Sigler. “We’re doing stuff that other schools aren’t doing.

“I learned you can have fun with your friends in any situation. I didn’t really expect what happened. It was very surprising to me, but it was fun. You definitely had to be on your feet and be quick about it.”

Wednesday’s dance-off was one of several team-bonding activities put on last week. On Thursday, the team ran to Boyer’s house with the help of a Beaverton Police Department escort for a big bonfire, where they did “Beaver chants” and sang the school fight song.

“I like getting together and doing things with my team,” said Paskar.

“I get to know more about my teammates as we do this, and that will help on the field. I can’t wait for the season to start. We’re going to go in as a team, and we already know what we’re doing. It’s going to be a great season.” by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Teams were split into 10-12 groups and instructed by the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation Dance troupe.

“Team chemistry, through school and on the field is really important,” said Sigler.”We have to stay together through those tough games, like last-quarter situations. It really helps having a team that’s close-knit.”

Johnson said Sigler’s group idea of the wedge was one her favorites because it was creative and artistic, but it was also a “strength move.”

“It’s pretty good for being on the football team as well, moving the team forward,” pointed out Johnson.

Last year, Boyer felt the dancing lessons went a long way toward helping the Beavers be successful. Back then, the head coach didn’t tell his players what they were doing until they walked into the gym. This year, Boyer said the Beavers weren’t as hesitant, but they were still coachable with the dance instructors and great listeners.

“When the trainer said, ‘Hey, you need to do this,’ everybody got quiet, everybody did it, and they worked on it,” said Boyer. “That’s part of that coachability piece.”

With the season just two weeks away, Pomee hopes Wednesday’s team bonding experience can carry over to the highly competitive Metro League.

“We’re all friends. There’s no person left out, and we’re just being a group together,” said Pomee. “We have each other’s back on the field. We love each other, so we’ll watch each other. I feel like we have a good group of kids.”

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