LSU Tiger Girls: From Banned to National Champions
Image via LSU Athletics
The dance team at the Louisiana State University, known as the Tiger Girls, was founded in 1999. Each year in addition to performing at school and athletic events, the dance team attends the Universal Dance Association (UDA) College Nationals in Orlando, FL. The LSU Tiger Girls is recognized as a top collegiate dance team and have won National Championships in 1999 and 2010, and in 2013, they also won World Championships.
However, last year the Louisiana State University did not allow the Tiger Girls to compete at UDA College Nationals. The University blamed it on a variety of reasons including funding, COVID-19, and a lack of resources, specifically a staff shortage in the training room. The LSU Tiger Girls were however, still expected to perform at all school and athletic events and were allowed to host practices. Additionally, they were required to follow the same COVID-19 protocols and testing as every other athletic team on campus.
Despite the various excuses of the University, every other “athletic” team on campus was allowed to attend their National Championships. The LSU Tiger Girls were not being prioritized because the “athletic” teams and sports that drove in revenue were; the University and NCAA do not identify the dance team as either. While the LSU Tiger Girls are not recognized as an “athletic” team, they are required to follow all student athlete guidelines, including maintaining a minimum GPA and attending over ten hours of practices and rehearsals per week.
Last year was the first time in 22 years that the dance team did not compete at UDA College Nationals.
After a year off, when this year rolled around, the LSU Tiger Girls were eager to attend and trained harder than ever for their comeback. The LSU Tiger Girls attended UDA College Nationals and won first place in the D1A Hip Hop division. They brought home the title for the first time in 12 years. Since then, their performance has gone viral and even become a Tik Tok trend. However, it is not simply for winning a championship that they have gained recognition, but for the actual message that these dancers delivered.
The team’s inspiration for this routine was the struggles they faced last season. The LSU Tiger Girls performed to “Like A Boy” by Ciara and dedicated it to all female athletes. The routine was choreographed by Carson Rowe and Sammy McFadden of Tribe 99 and their vision was to create a routine that also spoke to the need for the recognition of dance as a collegiate sport.
In an Instagram post on the team page, the LSU Tiger Girls stated “Today, we represented ourselves, our school, and every woman before us who has helped pave our path for success. We are BURSTING with gratitude & love from all of the support we have received this weekend.”
The LSU Tiger Girls’ vital message has rapidly spread throughout the nation, adding to the numerous existing Title IX and Equal Pay suits in the sports world. This story shines a bright light on the continuing inequalities faced by all female athletes.
The full routine can be viewed at the link below:
Link to LSU Tiger Girls website:
Nicole L. Gentilella is a 3L at Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, where she is VP of Sports of the Sports & Entertainment Law Society. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Northeastern University, where she was a collegiate dance team member. She is currently Director of Cheerleading and Dance for Narrow Pathway Management. She can be contacted via email at email@example.com, on twitter @NLGent and LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ngentilella/