- March 4, 2023
When Ocoee High’s Stomp N’ Shake team is in the room, the energy is palpable.
Although only in its second year of existence, the team’s presence at basketball games and community events is electrifying. And it all started with two students.
Stomp N’ Shake is a mix of stepping and dancing. Stepping involves clapping, stomping and making noise to make a beat with a group of people. Christopher Clark Jr. is considered the “step master,” while fellow teammates Kamari Garcon, Aryah Cox and Alaiya Saulsby work together to help with the dance choreography.
Monique Morris and Whitney Robertson, both Ocoee High teachers and the team’s co-sponsors, said Stomp N’ Shake is a great way to get more students involved in campus activities.
“A lot of the students are not able to be a part of some of the other (teams) like cheerleading and Knights Visual Ensemble, which is a dance team,” Morris said. “So, two students — Christopher Clark Jr. and (now alumna) Zuri Young — they are the visionaries behind this. They were looking for sponsors and … they talked to us, and we told them, ‘Sure.’ We started the whole process of planning and getting it together, had tryouts, and here we are.”
Last year, Stomp N’ Shake had about 40 students involved, and they performed at basketball games and parades in the community. The coronavirus pandemic has made many performances this year difficult, but the team recently got the green light to continue bringing the energy to the school’s basketball games this season — with safety measures in place.
“When we did our tryouts, we were in a big room where students were able to spread out, and we only did about four to five students per session so they could have plenty of space to spread out,” Robertson said. “We just started practice last week … so we did practice outside. Students are still required to wear their mask and keep them on the entire practice.”
“The commitment, the energy, the motivation of being part of something that was good — they loved it.” — Monique Morris
Morris and Robertson estimate there are more than 25 students participating in Stomp N’ Shake this year. They enjoy that it gives their students a chance to bond and become like family.
“They bonded so well, they looked out for (one another),” Robertson said. “We always have a team meeting at the end of each practice where they came together, they express their feelings, they express if they needed help. … This year, I feel we’ve had a lot of leaders that have stepped up wanting to help. We also have several freshmen this year.”
The Stomp N’ Shake team’s first performance of the 2020-21 school year is coming up with the start of basketball season, and both Morris and Robertson are as excited as their students are.
“The energy level, the motivation — they do so well at performances,” Morris said. “We’re always like, ‘Wow, you guys did great tonight!’ They own it. They own being part of Stomp N’ Shake team. … We had over 60 people that tried out last year. We packed the gym. … We would do this chant in the stands while they’re sitting down, and they loved it. The parents were like, ‘We have to have Stomp N’ Shake shirts!’ The commitment, the energy, the motivation of being part of something that was good — they loved it.”
And even though they won’t be able to pack the gym this year due to enhanced safety measures, Morris and Robertson know their team will continue to bring the hype.
“I know for sure they will bring the same energy, if not more, than last year,” Robertson said. “These kids are very committed.”