It’s Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and “Glamorous Life” by Sheila E. is blaring out of a small room in the HPE Center. The newest dance team at Tyler Junior College, the Apache Jewlyz, is practicing stand routines hoping to perform them one day.
Although TJC has had a recognized dance team, the Apache Belles, for many years, it doesn’t cater to everyone.
“I was actually turned away from the Apache Belles because I was a certain size. I’m 5’5″ and I weigh 125 pounds and I had to lose 10 pounds in order to hit the field. I was told to tone my lower body,” said Keiaira Burnett.
The average weight for someone who is 5 feet, 5 inches is 117 to 130 pounds.
Sadly, the weight issue was the case for several students who tried out or wanted to become Apache Belles.
“This is another alternative for students who weren’t able to dance with the Belles,” said Tamika McCullough, coach for the Apache Jewlyz.
The Apache Jewlyz allow all sexes, races, shapes and sizes to join. No one is turned away, if they have what it takes.
“One thing about the Jewlyz is they don’t discriminate. If you have the drive, potiential and the heart to dance, the Jewlyz will accept you at their tryouts. If you have it then you have it,” said Burnett.
Statistics show that 80 percent of women don’t like their own appearance. 80 percent of women admitted they feel the need to be perfect.
The Apache Jewlyz would like to change those statistics and be the postitive role model for TJC students.
“I think we’re going to have a positive affect on TJC because we try to reach out and do everything and give everybody a chance no matter the size, color or shape. We want to give a fair chance,” said Burnett.
Some may be skeptical about a new dance team at a school with a squad that’s been around for 64 years.
“It is hard being the newest dance team because we have something to prove on the TJC campus. We have not been able to show what we can do … but that’s all about to change,” said founder and captain Breonne Willis.
The Apache Jewlyz are striving to do something different.
“I see the Jewlyz as the official basketball dance team. That was my goal when Rekisha Wade and I founded the team,” said Willis.
The Apache Jewlyz would also like to be recognized.
“I would love to see the Apache Jewlyz recognized just as the Apache Belles,” said McCullough.
Willis wants to hear from any student who would like to join the Apache Jewlyz.
“If anyone would like to get in touch with me they can see my coaches, Ms. Tamika McCullough in the Registrar’s Office or Ms. Starr Holmes in the Academic Advising Office. Also Ms. Kim Harden in the Career Services Office … you can also talk to me on campus if you see me,” said Willis.
The Apache Jewlyz have not yet scheduled tryouts.