From standing position to down on the floor, it's all part of the routine H-F Steppers will use in competition in St. Louis. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
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H-F Steppers gearing up for weekend competition

From standing position to down on the floor, it's all part of the routine H-F Steppers will use in competition in St. Louis. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
From standing position to down on the floor, it’s all part of the routine H-F Steppers will use in competition in St. Louis.
(Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

They jump and twist and clap and get down on the floor. Sometimes they call out. It’s all part of the winning routine for the Homewood-Flossmoor High School Steppers team.

After winning first place in two competitions this school year, the 12 members and their coaches are off to St. Louis this weekend for the 13th annual Best in the Midwest Non-Greek Step Show.

Freshman Giesel Woods, standing, swings her arms during a practice session for the H-F Steppers. The team as won two first place titles and will compete in St. Louis Friday and Saturday. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
Freshman Giesel Woods, standing, swings her arms during a
practice session for the H-F Steppers. The team as won two
first place titles and will compete in St. Louis Friday
and Saturday. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

Step is one of the many after school activities offered at H-F. For two hours Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the members work with Coach Wesley Stewart and Assistant Coach Lovie Greer designing routines and then committing them to memory so they can be in sync when they go on stage. 

Stewart was a stepper in high school so it was easy for him to transition to head coach about a month ago, although he’s been working with the team for some time.

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Generally, a routine is 10 minutes, but for St. Louis the team only has 7 minutes so they’ve been working to make certain they stay within that timeline. Anything over and they’d be in trouble. The team also has upped their practice time to five days, three hours a day. They meet in the H-F dance studio in the fieldhouse.

“Our goal for St. Louis is to improve as a team,” said senior Jalyn Watson. “We do want to win as well, but just to improve and bond more since we do have newcomers on the team.” She said her mom encouraged her to join the Step team. She first saw H-F Steppers perform at H-F basketball games.

Watson said sports really wasn’t her thing, so she decided on step. “This is actually what I like to do, and I can express myself in this setting,” adding “I just love being a part of it.”

Senior Chito Emechebe admitted there are nerves at every competition. 

“Leading up to it I don’t, but once we’re in the space and seeing other teams perform, I do get nervous, but I feel like the nerves go away once the performance starts,” she said.

A stepper since her sophomore year, Emechebe said, “I get confidence and I find passion in it,” and she is willing to dedicate her time and effort because the hard work has dividends, and “it’s a fun space to go to.”

Sophomore Alison Ashton-Walker has found Steppers to be a positive for her.

“It gives me an outlet and I know this is a cliché to say but it really is a family. It’s like that connection you don’t get every day going to school and it’s a special thing you only get from joining,” she said.

Other team members are Giesel Woods, Timia Williams, LaChez Williams, Sarah Nwokoye, Tommya Lyons, Khea LaNier, Ruby Baker, Jazmine Baker, Aniyah Allen, Aiyanna Adams and Khalia Beard.

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