Having danced since she was 2, Morgan Myers wanted to continue with the sport she loves after leaving her hometown.
During the spring of her senior year at Brownstown Central High School in 2014, she traveled to Gladstein Fieldhouse in Bloomington to try out for Indiana University’s dance team, the RedSteppers.
She was so nervous she asked her parents to drive her there.
“I knew I would be shaking so bad I couldn’t drive,” she said.
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The eight-hour audition consisted of learning and performing routines, which tested her flexibility, ability to synchronize with the rest of the team and overall dance ability.
Of the nearly 80 girls who tried out, only two were selected. Myers was one of them.
“After eight long hours of auditions, I was sitting on the floor in the Gladstein Fieldhouse listening to my coach (Janis Cooper Parker) read off numbers of the girls who made the team, praying the entire time that I would hear my number,” she said. “When she listed my name off, I was so relieved and excited that I couldn’t stop smiling. I was thrilled and extremely honored.”
She then walked outside to tell her parents the good news.
“When I told them I made it, they lifted me off my feet, and we were all screaming,” Myers said. “My dad is an IU alumnus, so we kind of have Hoosier blood in our veins.”
When they got home, Myers saw where her younger sister, Claire, had decorated the driveway with chalk that said “Home of an IU RedStepper.”
“I cried when I saw it,” she said. “The most amazing thing about Brownstown is, in such a small town, news travels fast. The support I received from my community was so uplifting. They made me feel like a celebrity and still do every time I get a text or Facebook post about how they saw me on TV.”
Each year since then, Myers has auditioned to be on the team, which has ranged from 21 to 26 members. In the spring, the 20-year-old will try out for the fourth and final time.
To be ready once again, she is stretching every day and working on leg splits, turns and high kicks.
“RedSteppers is mainly a kick line, so making the team is mainly focused on your ability to kick with ease,” Myers said.
Looking back on her first audition, she said it was really intimidating.
“I was a high school senior walking into an audition with college girls who I had never met before,” she said. “Our coach is pretty stern and took a lot of getting used to, but she pushes us all to perform our best. So with a combination of a new environment, a new coach and the pressure of potentially becoming a Division I collegiate dancer, I was freaking out at auditions.”
Myers said she hoped all of her years of dancing would help her make the team.
“You are given a number to pin to your shorts at the beginning of the audition, and slowly, the cuts are made, and the numbers dwindle, and you are sitting there hoping she called your number at the very end,” she said. “All you could really do is sit there and pray you caught their eye.”
Myers did that year and the next two years.
Being a part of the team has allowed her to dance at all home football games at Memorial Stadium and one away game.
She also has been able to travel around the country, performing at Indianapolis Colts games, going to Rutgers University when the school joined the Big Ten Conference and dancing when the Hoosiers played at Michigan State University and Ohio State University.
With the football team making the postseason the past two years, Myers performed at Yankee Stadium in New York for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl and Levi’s Stadium in California for the Foster Farms Bowl.
“The Foster Farms Bowl has to be my favorite with all of the celebrity treatment we received,” Myers said. “We got our own private charter flight that we got to walk on the runway to board, free gear, free travel, spending money, free hotel. It was amazing. We basically got paid to dance there.”
She also got a chance to do some sightseeing.
“Getting to explore California in our free time was unforgettable,” she said. “I took a bus tour around San Francisco and got to experience the Golden Gate Bridge. It is such a humbling experience to get to see how different people live. California is a whole different world and culture.”
Another bonus of being a part of the RedSteppers is earning college credit because it’s considered a class. During the season, the team practices daily from 4:10 to 5:45 p.m.
“It is definitely a huge time commitment,” Myers said. “Game days are typically 16 hours worth of dancing and being on your feet, so when the weather is super hot or super cold, we are still out there doing our thing.”
Staying in shape is key, she said.
“I usually do personal workouts outside of practice to fit the coach’s physique standards,” Myers said. “During band camp, which is during welcome week, we are dancing from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. almost every day, and we are usually so sore that walking is a challenge, but we still love every second of it.”
Balancing practice, performances and academics is a challenge, but it’s doable, she said.
“You just have to find a routine that works for you and remember why you are at school,” Myers said. “Education comes first, and coaches understand that.”
Myers initially wanted to study nutrition and become a dietitian, but she said after “a lot of soul searching” and working at a summer camp in Minnesota, she recently switched her major to outdoor recreation, parks and human ecology. She now hopes to become an executive director of her own Christian summer camp.
With RedSteppers being a pretty big time commitment, Myers said she doesn’t have a lot of free time to get involved with other campus activities. She said she’s fortunate to have good teammates.
“I have some really amazing teammates, some of which are also my roommates,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of free time during football season, but we never fail to laugh and have fun and make our own memories together.”
Myers said it’s bittersweet knowing she’s going into her final year with the RedSteppers.
“I did drill team at Brownstown, danced at Tammy’s Dance Studio and did a lot of choreography for the BCHS choir and musicals, but I always wanted to know what it would feel like to dance in front of thousands in a massive stadium,” she said. “I have been so blessed to branch out from my small town and experience some amazing places.”
She said her involvement with the RedSteppers has allowed her to become empowered and more confident.
“I can dance in front of thousands without getting nervous, and that is something I could have never said before,” Myers said. “I am so happy with my life and where I am right now, and I can’t thank my team enough for giving me the memories and laughs over the years. I have been treated like a small-town celebrity, and I really can’t thank Brownstown enough for allowing me to represent them at IU.”
For others wanting to take a similar path, Myers said she encourages them to follow their dreams.
“No matter how many people tell you that you can’t do something, push through,” she said. “Trust God, and all things are possible.”
Name: Morgan Myers
Education: Brownstown Central High School (2014); currently a junior at Indiana University studying outdoor recreation, parks and human ecology
Organization: Three-year member of Indiana University’s dance team, the RedSteppers
Plans after college: Become the executive director of her own Christian summer camp