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October 13, 2008


Kentridge Chatelaines Begin Strong Year

Walking through Kentridge High School's campus after school hours, visitors regularly hear the sound of pounding music and yelling voices in the distance.  Of course, basketball or basketball practice, you think.  But that could be a wrong assumption, as one more "sports" team frequents the school's gyms, the Kentridge Chatelaines Dance Team.

For the Chats, practices are critical in maintaining the group's legacy of stellar performances established 30 years ago.  Precision performances don't come easy, either.  That's why this electric, unified group hits the practice floor with an intensity unrivaled by other teams.

With the addition of ninth grade to the high school and the team, the group of 49 is young this year.  It's also one of the largest teams in the state.  With 19 new members on board, the group's schedule included intense, frequent practices to be ready for the summer camps and upcoming competitions.

Staci Mattson (Printz), a Chats alumni and now a coach, shares the coaching responsibility with sister Ashley Printz.  New to the coaching team this year is the sisters' mom, Tami Printz, the new advisor, with previous experience working both at Meeker and Northwood middle schools.  Mattson feels her addition to the leadership will help tremendously.

"She...taught us everything we know and has been a huge help not only this year but a huge support to the team for the last 15 years," said Mattson.

It appears that the Chats passion tends to run "in the blood" for other families, too.  This year, four sets of sisters are on the team.

Clear Purpose and Expectations
According to Mattson, the team's purpose is " to maintain a functioning, cohesive, unified Team.  We hope to teach each of them dance skills, but also life skills that they can apply to school and a career." 

"Not only is the group's purpose clear, their expectations are also emphasized:

  • Be Punctual
  • Prioritize their time
  • Be pleasant and easy to get along with
  • Be encouraging and positive to each other
  • Be good examples on and off the dance team
  • Follow the rules of the Chatelaine Dance Team and of Kentridge High School

"The Kentridge Chatelaine Dance Team will operate under the idea that mutual respect, hard work and equal levels of participation are expected by each athlete.  Commitment, dependability and responsibility are required. 

"If everyone does this, the result will be a Team that feels prepared, a Team that wants to do its absolute best-at all times, and a Team who only wants to do it Together," said Mattson.

Those requirements are lofty, but the team understands that all that hard work has allowed them to reach their team performance goals every year.  The high standards are inherent in the team's name "Chatelaines," which means "Queen/Keeper of the Castle" according to Mattson.

"It isn't easy to get such a large group to move in unison without a lot of practicing, critiquing, and discipline. There is a legacy here at Kentridge that each girl has to be willing to keep up.  We continually place year after year at State and keep the traditions that were put into place 30 years ago," said Mattson.

Last year, the legacy continued, placing second in both Show and Kick categories at State.

Busy Schedule
In addition to performing at a number of competitions throughout the school year, Chatelaines perform at home football and basketball games and assemblies. 

The Team's five elected leaders are an essential component of the team, attending three different camps over the summer.  In June, the five attended a leadership camp in Texas, the Elite Camp in Bellevue, and the Thunderbird Camp in Portland, Oregon.  The rest of the team members must choose one of the camps in either Bellevue or Portland.  A final, two-week Team summer camp happens in August, where all the routines are shared and refined for the upcoming year. 

The culminating event to the final two-week camp is a parent night, where the team performed over 15 routines they had learned that summer.  Full of energy, the evening demonstrated the talent, skills and character the Team's advisors and student team leaders work so hard to instill.

Team leaders are responsible for teaching all the routines from the three camps to the rest of the Chats, including any additional routines they might create themselves.

According to Team Co-Captain Sarah Carson, Team Leadership at every level is critical to the success of the team.  "We do everything.  From the beginning, we create the team tryout routine, we attend the officer camp in Texas, and this year, each officer attended both camps in Portland and Bellevue.  We then teach all the routines we learn at the camps to the rest of the team," said Carson.

Not only are they responsible for teaching the routines, they are also have administrative responsibilities.  It's a lot of work and a huge time commitment, but the rewards of being on the team make the responsibilities a joy.

"I just love the Chats and the people on the team," said Carson.  "I've been dancing since I was three and this is my third year on the team.  Staci and Ashley are the best (coaches) in the State.  They're super supportive and we learn so much from them."

During the Year
When the school year starts, the practice schedule moves to two days a week, and when competition season begins, they add Saturday practices.
As a year-long sport, extra emphasis on academics is a part of the formula, and team members understand that they need to maintain good grades.  "They are required to keep a 2.0 and no failing grades," said Mattson.

When competition season begins, the Chats could enter in a number of competitions, but they have chosen to focus on three competition categories:

1) Prop/Production Category,
2) Kick Category, and
3) Dance Category.

"The Prop/Production Category is really fun; it's a kind of mini-Broadway show with props.  I really like it," said Carson.  She also said the Kick Category is one of the standard areas they compete in because the group is so well-known for its kicking.

School Year Highlights
Not only is it fun to dance in front of crowds on a regular basis, there are perks and places the Chatelaines get the privilege to perform at and visit. 

This March, the Chats will make a trip down to Disneyland in April to perform at Magic Music Days.  They also look forward to conducting two K-12 dance clinics, and the most recent event was to perform as halftime entertainment along with nine other teams and the Sea Gals at the October 12 Seahawks game. 

Another fun event coming up this month is to dance with Chatelaine alumni at the Homecoming game on October 24. 

Dancing Post-KR
Because Chats have received such a firm foundation in the elements of Team Dance, many Chatelaine alums are able use those talents after graduation.  According to Mattson, a number of alums dance for college teams such as Western Washington University, the University of Washington, Washington State University, and Pacific University. 

Others have performed for teams such as the Sea Gals and the Seattle Supersonics, as well as other performing groups around the state.  In fact, this year, more than a third of the Sonics Dance Team was comprised of KR Chatelaine Alumni.

A brief recap of where Chat Alums dance include:

Jessica King '07, UW Pom Squad
Kelsey Cherewatenko '06, Seattle Supersonics
Tessa Harrington '06, Seattle Seahawks Sea Gal
Shelley Pahlow '06, PLU Dance Team
Mia Palsson '05, WSU Dance Team
Jillian Boprey '05, Seattle Supersonics
Kendra Linders '04, WSU Dance Team
Paige Wakasugi '04, UW Cheer Team
Whitney Kranz '04, Seattle Supersonics
Laura McClure '02, Seattle Supersonics
Staci Mattson (Printz) '01, Seattle Supersonics
Lisa Nelson (Brodhead) '00, Seattle Supersonics Alum
Erinn Holdass (Pearce) '99, Seattle Supersonics Alum

Others Include:

Julie Schoenfield, Sue Rue & Jennifer Hulvey, Kilgore (TX) Rangerettes
Darshan Bryant, Sonics
Connie Takemura & Amber Flynn, Sea Gals
Emily Goria and Stacey Jones, Dance Camp Instructors/Owners

The payoff also overflows into other areas of life.  Chats were recently visited by Michelle Font, current Miss Washington USA and a Chatelaine team member from 1997-2000.  Her talk focused on the life-long skills acquired as a result of being on the team.

Life-Long Lessons
Just as "traditional" sports teams promote life-long lessons about teamwork, trust and integrity, Chatelaines' experiences also trickle into building character in its team members for life.  Mattson is deeply committed to the group and has invested over seven years of coaching the girls because of the joy and satisfaction it brings. 

"The reason I love Chatelaines and have coached for the last seven years is because of the sacrifices girls make to make it the best.  I have taken with me principles that I have applied to all areas of my life.  Leadership, organization, and reliability are just a few valuable traits that I owe to my experience with this program.  I have been in their shoes and know how difficult high school can be when trying to juggle family, school, friends, and lots of other activities.

"Sometimes the things in life that are the most difficult can also be the most rewarding. What you care about is what you'll work hardest on, persevere the longest at, take the most pride in, and have the most satisfaction from," said Mattson.


Responses to "Fairwood Chatelaines"


October 24 - 5:16 pm

Robin Alexander said:
What a great article on the Chatelaines! Thank you.

As a past member and officer of the Chatelaines 1980-1982 I am thrilled to see that the quality, determination, dedication, and excellence has continued on.

Thank you ladies.

My Chatelaine memories are still some of my most precious, and the lessons I learned in regards to excellence in performance, teamwork and leadership have been invaluable.

Keep kickin' girls!


October 15 - 8:56 pm

Janet said:
Love the story! I've been waiting for someone to do a story on these hard working ladies.


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Chatelaines 1

Kentridge Chats get ready to perform
Photo Courtesy of KVS & Doug Zylstra

Chats Compete

Chats getting ready for Summer Camp Competition
Photo Courtesy of Staci Mattson

Chatelaines in Line

Kentridge Chats practice long and hard to achieve the perfect performance.
Photo Courtesy of KVS & Doug Zylstra

Chats 3

Chats at a recent game. Photo Courtesy of Staci Mattson

Chats 4

Chats at Parents Night. Photo Courtesy of Staci Mattson


Chat Alums use talents on the Supersonics Dance Team. From left to right are: Laura McClure, Kelsey Cherewatenko, Whitney Kranz, Staci Mattson (Printz), and Jillian Boprey. Photo Courtesy of Staci Mattson


Chat Alum and Current Sea Gal Tessa Harrington