Pep in their step

DM’s pom team finishes second in the state


WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: The Desert Mountain High School Arizona State Championship Pom Team: Jemma Burstein, Julia Goldesnson, Jenna Golucci, Anika Jaleeil, Parker Larazza, Kaylen Lucas, Jessica Marmis, Lauren McCarty, Mary Noyd, Brooke Quinzi, Donna Setyan, Maddie Voightmann, and Chloe Wallace. They captured the state title last month at the AIA State Qualifier Competition at Posten Butte High School.

Chloe Allen, Staff writer

A need for teamwork. A rise of challenges. A desire to win.

Welcome to the world of Pom, a competitive sport full of passion and hard work. And teamwork and unity are very crucial for DM’s pom team, which captured the state qualifiers last month at Poston Butte High School in San Tan Valley. They capped their season with state runners up.

“Being there for one another is really important,” said senior Jessica Marmis, “because it takes everyone to be in it together to make a good team.”

Luckily, working together is not difficult for these girls. The love that they have for each other helps to unite them into one hardworking team.

“It really helps that we’re all super close and we all love each other so much,” said junior Brooke Quinzi. “It just makes it so much more fun to be on a team together.”

This year, the girls contracting COVID-19 has brought an abundance of issues and challenges to this pom squad. 

“This year has been especially difficult because two or three people on the team have contracted COVID only two weeks before state,” Marmis said, “so now we have to take them out of the dance and redo the whole dance which is really hard.”

Quinzi can speak about this setback from personal experience.

“I did get COVID and it’s really sad because I am quarantined this close to state and I had to be taken out of the dance.”  

The virus is causing a physical separation between these girls but senior Mary Noyd said the beauty of teamwork and togetherness through the challenges helped bridge the gap.

“It is sad that we don’t have our whole team with us but they’re still winning with us if we do win because they are a part of our team and it’ll be fun anyway,” Noyd said.

Being sick or quarantined has definitely caused many issues, but coach Marissa Zummo mentions overcoming other challenges brought about by the pandemic.

“This year has been challenging and different and we have overcome a lot of obstacles. Doing intense cardio and running the dances with masks on and not having fans at games.” Zummo said, “We have been making it work, though.” 

Being a captain or coach of a large team can be difficult but all say that every part is rewarding. Team captain Jessica Marmis mentioned a few of the challenges when being in charge and trying to create unity.

“It takes a lot to orchestrate everyone and make sure that everyone is happy with all the decisions we make,” Marmis said.

Luckily, through these challenges, the girls have motivation and passion to help them finish out strong. The reward after the hard work is worth it.

“We’re all working so hard because we want it so bad,” Quinzi said. Seeing our hard work really show is just very rewarding.”

The state competition for Pom is a large competition but usually not the most important. However, Marmis explained why state this year is more important than ever for these girls.

“State hasn’t always been a huge deal for us because we always go to nationals which is against 70 other teams but this year we can’t attend nationals because of the pandemic: so our nationals is state to us this year. So winning state would mean everything to us.” 

Seniors have to miss out on their last nationals so they are really counting on state this year to finish out their last season strong.

“Obviously state is very important to us but since we aren’t going to nationals, this is just a ride or die, for the Seniors especially since this is it for us,” said Noyd.

After all these challenges the girls have faced, coach Marissa Zummo explains why winning the championship at state would be crucial for the team.

“The whole entire team has worked so hard this year and (championship) would mean so much to them and really show them that all their hard work does pay off.” 

The girls receiving second place in the state championship was a great ending to the season, the coach said.

“We battled with a few covid related struggles the week prior so I am so proud that they were able to stay in the top!” Coach Zummo said, “The girls danced the best I have ever seen them and were all genuinely happy with their performance!”