They put the glitter in Wildcats’ band

14K Gold Dancers ready for Florida Classic halftime show

BY JAHSON LEWIS
FLORIDA COURIER

When the Bethune-Cookman University’s Marching Wildcats take to the Florida Citrus Bowl gridiron on Saturday, all that glitters on the field with them will be Gold – the 14 Karat Gold Dancers.

Some are a little nervous, others are pros. One thing’s for sure. The 14 Karat Gold Dancers will draw plenty of attention on Nov. 21 during B-CU’s halftime show at the Florida Classic.
Some are a little nervous, others are pros. One thing’s for sure. The 14 Karat Gold Dancers will draw plenty of attention on Nov. 21 during B-CU’s halftime show at the Florida Classic.

The 14 Karat Gold Dancers, also known as 14K, made up of 11 B-CU students, say they’re ready to give a sparkling performance Saturday at the 2015 Florida Blue Florida Classic. The kick off for the football game is 2:30 p.m. at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

This year’s dance team has 11 ladies on the squad although previous teams have had as many as 18 and as few as five members. The original name was the “Golden Girls” – in 1982-1983. The name was changed to the 14 Karat Gold Dancers in 1984.

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‘A great honor’
Drianca Baxter, an early education major and 14K captain from Jacksonville, called it “a great honor to be on 14K  because when you’re in college and you wanna dance you don’t want to dance for just anybody. You want to dance for the best. And I feel that 14K is the best and I feel that we exemplify that every time we perform.”

Performances throughout the season consist mainly of halftime showcases alongside the Marching Wildcats and Sophisticat Flag Corp, which together are known as “The Pride’’ of B-CU.

For 14K, the first home game, homecoming and the Florida Classic is the biggest performances of the year for them.

“Homecoming is big because there is a lot of people you know there and you know what to expect,” Baxter told the Florida Courier this week.

Stressful time
The dancers practice and prepare vigorously year-round but freshman Jayla Council admits that preparing for the Florida Classic has been stressful.

“It’s stressful, but in the end it’s fun because you’re going to have to push yourself. Like me being a freshman, like seeing the band completely do a 360 and Mr. (Donovan) Wells do a 360 because it’s Classic. When it’s over it’s fun, you can tell that we just had a good show and we all pushed ourselves and we are happy that we executed like we were supposed to,’’ said the psychology and criminal justice major from Nashville, Tenn. Wells is B-CU’s band director.

Baxter and her teammates wouldn’t offer any specifics about what spectators can expect from the 14K during halftime. The halftime show at the Classic – between the Marching Wildcats and Florida A&M University’s Marching 100 – is a highlight of the football game.

“Halftime is what we do. What we are known for,” Baxter offered. She added that there’s an “adrenaline rush’’ during the Florida Classic.

“We all give our all out there on the field just to, you know, have a good performance and give them what they expect,” she noted.

‘You can’t hide’
Shakeitha Wade, a junior psychology major from Miami, said her most enjoyable moment participating in her first Florida Classic last year was being able “to breathe again’’ once it all was over.

“For me, it is taking that knee at the end of it.  You are so excited and so nervous. It’s just a great feeling when you are done knowing we all put on a great show,” she expressed.

Sophomore psychology major Cassandra Jean Jacques is nervous about Saturday’s show. Originally from Orange, New Jersey but resides in Miami, Jacques will be participating in her first Classic.

“I expect a lot of people from FAMU, Cookman and home. I will be nervous because it’s my first time performing for the Classic so I wouldn’t want to mess up and everyone watching. You can’t hide behind nobody,” she related.

The outfits
The 14K gold dancers are known for wearing some interesting outfits during their performances – usually tight, gold and slinky.

Team members said the attire for game days is always custom and new. When choosing them, a dancer said, “We go with a vision, whatever we see that we think would look good on everybody on the team.”

The dancers added that they aren’t necessarily looking for comfortability when making their selection but want to look stunning when they step out to perform.

This Saturday, expect them to be “dipped in gold,’’ as Shakeitha Wade put it.

Besides the outfit change, Baxter said fans of the 14 Karat Gold Dancers, will appreciate their performance.

“We’re just trying to give them 14K. We never want to change the image of what 14K is. So when we hit the field we think about all our former 14K members. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be out here so we just give (the fans) what they want.’’

The Florida Blue Florida Classic game between B-CU and FAMU kicks off at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 21 at Orlando’s Florida Citrus Bowl.

Jahson Lewis, a Florida Courier intern, is a senior Mass Communications major at Bethune-Cookman University.

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