Kixters celebrate 40th year
Forty years and the Brainerd Warrior dance team--the Kixters--are still kicking. The Kixters were founded in 1975 and competed in its first high school dance competition in the 1975-76 school year. The dance team is done with its competitive seas...
Forty years and the Brainerd Warrior dance team-the Kixters-are still kicking.
The Kixters were founded in 1975 and competed in its first high school dance competition in the 1975-76 school year.
The dance team is done with its competitive season this school year, but the dancers are never resting their dance skills. The team will dance in the Just For Kix spring dance show scheduled Saturday at the Brainerd High School. For the high school seniors on the team, it will be their last performance as a Kixter on the team.
The Kixters won its first competition in 1979 at the St. Paul Winter Carnival out of 41 teams and it was the first of many. In 1987, Gov. Rudy Perpich declared April 27 (Wednesday) as Kixters Day, as the Kixters took first place in high kick competition in the national dance team competition in Cypress Gardens, Fla. The team also took second place in the prop category in the national competition.
"The journey has been amazing," said Warrior head coach Cindy Clough, who has been with the team since its creation. "The respect for the sport has grown. Minnesota is such a leader in the nation and that is exciting."
When asked if Clough thought she would still be a part of the Kixters after all these years, she said, "No. When I first started It was something I thought I would do for five years. I didn't realize how much it would grab a hold of me."
Clough has seen many changes on the team through the past 40 years.
"Being around for all these years seen a lot of changes," Clough said. "It's gone from being a club or an activity, which in its infancy was athletic, but now it is extremely athletic. It's a rigorous sport that requires so much conditioning, artisticism as well as athleticism."
Clough has been involved with the dance team since before it was called a dance team or the Kixters. She was a senior at Brainerd High School during the 1975-76 school year, when the dance team started as a high school activity. At that time it was called dance line. The coach was Georgia Lyscio.
Clough said dance line began after former athletic director Ron Stolski moved to Brainerd from Park Center High School in Brooklyn Center. He wanted to start a dance line in Brainerd.
Clough was asked to join the team because she was a baton twirler.
Clough said the team had 16 members that first year. Now the dance team has 40 dancers on the junior varsity and varsity teams.
"The first year was a challenge because only a few of us had ever seen a dance line before," Clough said. "We were very green. We took 17th place out of 17 teams the first year."
The following year Clough and her friend, Pam Brutsman, planned to attend Brainerd Community College and help Lyscio coach dance line at the high school. Then Lyscio moved out of town, and Clough and Brutsman took over as coaches.
Clough said the dance line became the Kixters in its second year. She came up with the name after seeing a Kix cereal commercial on TV that sang, "Kix, Kix, get your Kix." Through a combination of this commercial slogan and the name of the Anoka High School dance line at that time, the Twisters, Clough came up with the name the Kixters. Clough said the dance line voted for the name.
All dance lines had names in the '70s. It wasn't until the Minnesota State High School League allowed dance teams to compete as a winter interscholastic activity in 1995 that the names changed. This is when the Kixters changed to the Brainerd Warrior dance team.
Brainerd has competed at the state level since 1979. The dance team began competing in conference meets in 1998 and at sectionals in 2000.
People may confuse the Kixters with Just For Kix, as Clough owns Just For Kix with her husband Steve. However, the two are separate. Just For Kix is a business and the dance team is a sport through the MSHSL.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.