November 6, 2013
On any given afternoon, the thundering steps of the Blinn College step team can be heard echoing across the Brenham campus.
Sophomore co-captain Jasmine Tarver leads the female performers, or Dames, as they perfect their routine for the next performance.
As she calls out the beat, the steppers follow, the swift strikes of their hand claps, leg kicks and arm swings creating a rhythmic beat.
Co-captain Chance Mays is nearby, leading the men, or Dons. He calls out his own chants as their steps echo off the red-brick buildings that surround them.
“We have a good time in practice,” Tarver said. “Everyone brings a lot of energy and life, and we have good practices because of that. That energy is why we get invited back for repeat performances so often.”
Together, Tarver and Mays, both of Houston, provide the right dichotomy to lead the team. Tarver, who has a background in dance, teaches the routines to the steppers who are able to pick them up more quickly, while Mays is able to slow the routines down and show on a step-by-step basis what each routine entails.
“I think the team really benefits from having a captain who can teach the steps really quick and a captain who can slow it down some,” Mays said.
The Dons and Dames perform across the Blinn campus at block parties, sporting events such as home basketball games and in the community at places such as Boys & Girls Club of Washington County and the High Hope Care Center of Brenham.
Tarver is working to help the team build a reputation throughout Houston by participating in spring contests and visiting with area high schools to spread the word about stepping.
“If someone asks us to perform and our schedule is open, we’re going to do the best we can to go there and perform,” Mays said. “When we step, we never ask for anything – we’re just appreciative of the chance to perform.”
Said Tarver, “The more that we step, the more we show our faces and the more volunteer work that we do, the more people will know who we are and our organization will continue to grow.”
The team has already grown considerably from Mays and Tarver’s first year, as more than 40 students signed up this semester.
“I want it to skyrocket and allow the organization to grow and give the younger steppers the same opportunities we had,” Mays said.
Leading the Dons and Dames has allowed both Mays and Tarver to develop leadership skills neither knew they possessed.
“Being in a leadership position really makes me want to go out and talk to the kids and let them know that if you feel there is nobody out there, I’m guaranteed to care about you,” Mays said.
The step team is one of 31 student organizations on the Blinn – Brenham campus. These student-run clubs include honor societies as well as political, professional, religious, service and social organizations. For more information, visit: www.blinn.edu/sla.