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All they want to do is dance

(ran PC edition)

The Wesley Chapel Angels dance and cheerleading group is new, but that won't hold them back.

Dan Wells says he formed the Wesley Chapel Angels, a dance and cheerleading group, because he cares about kids.

"It is not a money-making project," the 49-year-old single father of five said. "I'm just very involved with children. My kids are my priority."

Three of his own are involved in the project, which started in April. His daughter, Melissa Georgiev, 23, is the coach. Another daughter, Angel, 14, is on the dance squad. And his son, Mickel, 15, is waiting for the cheerleading portion of the team to form.

"What I'm trying to do for these kids is make great memories for them," said Wells, who is an electrician.

The Wesley Chapel Angels All-Star cheerleading and cheerleading dance group is for boys and girls in first through 12th grades. After trying out for and making the team, they travel to camps and events to learn about their sport and compete against other Florida teams, and take on other states if they succeed.

"All-star cheerleading is becoming very big," said Wells.

It is definitely not just rah, rah, sis, boom, bah.

At one time, cheerleading was just for leading the audience in cheers at football games and other sports to encourage the players.

But in 1949 it evolved into something new, and although cheerleaders still stir up the fans, cheerleaders and dancers can be seen on television and in gymnasiums throughout the United States competing against one another to bring home trophies and monetary prizes.

The National Cheerleaders Association was formed in Texas by Lawrence Herkimer. He discovered that while he cheered he didn't stutter, and he wanted to help others achieve confidence in themselves through a fun activity. The first camp was held at Sam Houston University in Huntsville, Texas, in 1949 with 52 girls.

This year, 1,100 camps were held, with 150 of them exclusively for dance. Members of the association perform at the Aloha Bowl and the Hula Bowl in Hawaii, in the Dallas Children's Christmas parade, at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando and in the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York City.

"There is more technique involved in this than in dancing," said Julie Deckard, 14, who is also assistant coach of the 12-member squad, known as the Dirty Dozen.

Julie has been taking dance at the Tampa Dance Theater since she was 2 years old. She takes ballet, jazz, tap and modern dance. However, the all-star routines are quite different from what she has done at the studio.

"I've never been on an all-star team before, so this was a challenge," she said. "The dance routines have a lot of precise cheerleading moves."

Julie is working with Georgiev to create a new routine for the 12 squad members. "This gives us something to look forward to each week," she said.

The team practices at the East Pasco YMCA in Zephyrhills on Tuesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. and is open to new members.

Each team member must join the YMCA and pay the monthly tuition. However, once they are members they can use the facilities whenever they want. The tryout fee is $10, and for those who make the team, it costs $25 to register.

Recently, they participated in the National Cheerleaders Association-sponsored camp at the University of South Florida.

"I was real proud of the girls at the camp," said Wells. "Most of the teams participating had been to the camp for years. Before these girls went to camp, they couldn't dance much at all."

The girls won points for costume and music mix at the camp.

Wells says he needs a coach for the cheerleading team. He hopes to end up with three cheerleading squads of 25 each and two dance teams.

Teresa Deckard, Julie's mother, is pleased with Wells and his Wesley Chapel Angels.

"It is a new group and has a long way to go, but you have to start somewhere," said Mrs. Deckard. "Dan's great. He has a special way with kids and he's very dedicated. He goes out of his way for them. He treats them like they were his own."

Anyone interested in trying out for the team should call Wells at (813) 907-5824.

_ Michelle Jones covers central Pasco community news. She can be reached at (813) 226-3459. Her e-mail address is jonessptimes.com.

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