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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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This dance is finished

A confrontation between a University administrator and members of the BGSU dance team at a Mid-American Conference women’s basketball tournament game last week led to the suspension of the dance team’s captain, ending the season on a sad note for many members.

Kellie Drake, captain of the dance team, was suspended from performing during the remaining games of the MAC tournament as a result of her behavior when she was confronted by Wanda Overland, associate vice president and dean of students in the Office of Student Life, officials say.

Following Drake’s suspension, five other team members decided to quit in support of their captain.

University junior Sarah Yachanin didn’t agree with the reasons being cited for Drake’s suspension. Yachanin, a first year dance team member, said she was hurt to have to walk away from the sport that’s her true passion.

“I quit the one thing I love doing more than anything else in the world,” she said. “I feel like my dancing experience on the team was really short-lived.”

In an effort to demand respect from University officials, senior Holly Mittelmeier, also a first year member, quit the team.

“It’s really unfortunate because I’m a senior and I’ve wanted to be on this team for the last three years and I had a great year,” she said. “I love dancing and it was just sad for me to have the year end on such a sour note.”

The confrontation between Overland and the dancers was sparked by miscommunication over their choice to book a hotel on their own for the tournament game, Yachanin said.

Initially, University officials reserved hotel rooms for the dance team on March 11, based on anticipation that the women’s team would be in the championship game , said Valerie Faley, BGSU cheerleading and dance team advisor.

The team is usually under the direction of Jessica Nekoranec, who is on maternity leave. Faley has been interim coach during her absence.

Due to weather reports that predicted unpleasant conditions for the Cleveland area, a hotel was then reserved for March 10, as well.

Although the women were scheduled to play in Cleveland on March 9, a hotel wasn’t reserved for the team due to a lack of funding, but they were being provided with University transportation to and from Bowling Green, Faley said.

Faley was not at the game when the interaction occurred between Overland and team members due to prior engagements.

“My understanding is that Dr.. Overland approached the dance team at the completion of their half-time routine,” Faley said. “There were rules that were broken that resulted in a one member suspension.”

Overland is currently out of town and has been unavailable for comment.

As a matter of convenience, several team members suggested they book a hotel for March 9, using their own money.

According to Mittelmeier, Faley gave team members permission to reserve the hotel rooms.

“We had confirmed with Val that it was okay if we used our own money for the hotel and she said ‘yes’,” Mittelmeier said. “It was all for convenience for us. If we would have been told we couldn’t do that, we wouldn’t have.”

But Faley insists she never agreed to it. Faley said she was approached by team members about reserving their own hotel rooms, but couldn’t grant them permission, she said.

“It was something the University could not support,” Faley said. “They need to follow team arrangements or be under supervision when representing Bowling Green.”

The day following Drake’s suspension, a meeting was held between the dancers, Faley and Overland to discuss the situation.

The meeting did not go as well as some team members wanted, Mittelmeier said, because many questions were left unanswered.

“We felt nothing was accomplished in the meeting,” she said.

Several team members felt that the reasons given for Drake’s suspension were vague and unclear, and if she couldn’t dance they decided they wouldn’t either.

“We were just getting different reasons for why she was suspended,” Mittelmeier said.

“That was very frustrating to us because we didn’t feel like we were getting any answers and any justification for her being suspended.”

Faley was hesitant to comment about the details of Drake’s behavior at the game, but said the hotel situation didn’t play into the decision to suspend Drake.

“The suspension does not relate to any of the hotel incidents at all,” she said.

“We do have some written rules on respect and other issues, and some of those rules were broken.”

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