Anyone who has attended a basketball or volleyball game knows the palpable energy that sweeps through the court when Gonzaga’s co-ed hip-hop dance team, Bomb Squad, steps out to perform.
Bomb Squad is a fully student-run club that practices twice a week and alternates with the dance team to perform at basketball games, volleyball games and other on-campus events, said Grace Siemering, social media chair for Bomb Squad.
Siemering has been on Bomb Squad for all four years of her time at GU. As social media chair, she runs the Bomb Squad Instagram account (@gu_bombsquad), occasionally makes some Tik Toks, as well as keeps the Bomb Squad Facebook account updated. She said that joining Bomb Squad was a great way to get involved at GU and led her to meet some of her closest friends.
“I did dance like all through high school and I just loved hip hop the most, and I knew that I wanted to find a way to get a community here on campus, and I wasn’t exactly ready to stop dancing, so that just seemed like the perfect way to do it,” Siemering said of why she joined Bomb Squad.
Bomb Squad holds tryouts for the team each year in September, and the team ranges between 22 and 26 members, said Mia Cretarolo, one of Bomb Squad’s co-captains this year. At Bomb Squad’s two weekly practices, team members sign up to choreograph a dance and teach it to the rest of the team to perform, she said.
Cretarolo was drawn to Bomb Squad after seeing the group’s Instagram account and having someone on the team reach out to her because they knew she was a dancer. When Cretarolo auditioned for Bomb Squad during her first year at GU, what stood out to her about the team was the supportive environment during auditions, she said.
In her experience, dance auditions are typically highly competitive, but at auditions for Bomb Squad, everyone was cheering each other on.
“We are a team, but it also is a club, so we’re all just here to have fun but also to make each other better, and we have a very family-oriented dynamic on Bomb Squad, which also draws a lot of people in,” Cretarolo said.
Hannah Grimes, Bomb Squad’s other co-captain along with Cretarolo, was also drawn to Bomb Squad during her first year at GU after coming across its Instagram account and watching the group perform at first-year orientation. A dancer throughout middle school and high school, Grimes said she wanted to join a group at GU that would help her get involved and keep dancing.
Although Bomb Squad had to pause its performances at games last year due to COVID-19, the team was able to perform a few times at March Madness viewing parties, Grimes said.
Bomb Squad was scheduled to perform at Hoopfest this year before the event was cancelled, and the team has performed at Hoopfest in the past as well. In lieu of performing at games last year, Bomb Squad focused on improving their skills to prepare for their return, and continued to have different members of the team choreograph and teach dances, Grimes said.
“We just tried to kind of continue dancing any way we could and just improving our skills hopefully for like the next year, more than anything,” Grimes said.
On top of performing at basketball and volleyball games, Bomb Squad is usually invited to perform at the WCC Conference, and performs at other on-campus events such as first-year orientation and GEL weekend.
This year, Bomb Squad is back on the court, and will also occasionally hold open practices for those who want to improve their skills or just bring their friends and have fun dancing.
Cretarolo said this year’s class of first-year students are one of the most talented groups she’s seen, which has helped to both bring in more talent and push returning members. The team is filled with positivity and works to push each other, so they are excited for the year ahead, she said.
Due to the lack of team bonding opportunities last year because of the pandemic, Bomb Squad is trying to make up for that and get to know each other better, to help foster the family dynamic that the team is known for, Cretarolo said. This is especially important this year, since Bomb Squad has 11 new members in contrast to the typical five or six newcomers each year.
For Grimes, that family dynamic is the most rewarding part of being involved with Bomb Squad. Having a group of people who make each other better and support each other has given her a sense of belonging at GU, which many people look for in college, she said.
In addition to everyone on Bomb Squad being supportive of each other, many people that Cretarolo has met at GU are fans of the group as well.
“Just to have that really supportive atmosphere, not just on the team but from everybody on campus, and like when we go out to perform everybody is literally screaming and it feeds my soul, it’s just so reassuring and supportive and makes me feel so good,” Cretarolo said.