On March 12, 2019, Penn’s Poms team won fourth place in the state championships–no small feat, given the steep competition, and the comeback Poms made this winter. PNN spoke with Poms coach Cindi Minegar to talk about the team, the sport, and all the twists and turns of the season.

Cindi Minegar has been coaching Poms since she was 18 years old, making this her 45th year with the sport. She’s coached at Mishawaka High School, Marian High School, and St. Joe High School, but she’s been with Penn since 1994. This year, she was especially optimistic in her high-skilled team. “Going into the competition season, I had really high expectations,” she explained.

But before Christmas break, the Poms team was facing trouble. Coach Minegar told PNN that the judges didn’t understand their routine. “It wasn’t quite the style they were looking for,” she elaborated. “So over Christmas break, I had to re-choreograph the entire routine. That was a little nerve-wracking! In January, we went to the competition with that routine and got first place, and we scored our highest score. Going into state, I was hopeful for the top five, and we did, we got fourth.”

Penn’s Poms team poses with their trophies after taking fourth in the state championships

By all accounts, this last season was a success for the Poms team–a rocky start, with a big finish. But there’s more to Poms than that.

“The best parts have nothing to do with dancing,” Minegar said with a smile. “Just seeing the girls bond and work for a common goal, that’s one of the highlights. When they came off the floor at state, they were so excited because they knew they had nailed the routine, and that was exciting for me…They became close as a team, really close.”

One of the greatest successes of the season is Rachel Wobbe, a senior on the team whose solo performance won her sixth place in the state and a spot on the all-state team.

Coach Minegar knew this was a huge honor. “[Rachel] made it to state and placed sixth in the state for her solo,” she told PNN. “You have all of your dancers in Indiana–which are hundreds–and [judging] goes according to your GPA, your dance ability, community service, all those things. They name twelve or fifteen girls to the all-state team, and those are the girls that simply represent the best in Indiana. It was a thrill. I was up there at the awards and I got to put the medal on her, which was very exciting for me.”

With such a rocketing success at the end of the season, what’s next for the Poms team? “Poms has come so far,” Minegar said. “I’m losing 7 seniors [this year]. Seven seniors on a team of eighteen. They were great leaders–they all took the responsibility and helped make this team what it was.” The future of Poms depends on the results of the upcoming tryouts in April.

Dedication, rigor, and heart are constants in the members of Poms–and that perseverance launches the team to great success. “I always tell the girls, it’s the heart that wins, not so much the skills,” Coach Minegar said with a smile, the trophy to her right. “If they want it, they will pursue it, and they can get it. And they did.”  

By Kevin McNulty

Kevin McNulty teaches English and Mass Media Studies at Penn High School. He advises the Penn News Network and manages the PNN Studio and news room. For more information, navigate your browser to www.massmediastudies.net.