FARIBAULT, Minn. – The community of Faribault celebrated the school’s high school dance team Tuesday night, days after it won the state championship amid controversy.
On Saturday, several other teams stood in protest at the state tournament awards ceremony after accusations surfaced the Faribault team may have stolen parts of their routine.
But Tuesday night was different. On Tuesday, a town gathered to celebrate a championship season.
“I think they deserve it,” said Mary Isaacson, a Faribault resident. “As a community, we should support them and be there for them.”
“I am incredibly proud of this town for standing behind the Falcons and the Emeralds and saddened by the fact that they’ve had to try to make up for what happened on Saturday,” said Juanita Baldwin, who has a granddaughter on the team.
But while the team did enjoy a belated moment, a sports psychologist said the wider community should also take a moment to reflect on the lessons within the controversy.
“Sports are a series of teachable moments, and this is a big one,” said Nicole LaVoi, the Associate Director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota.
LaVoi doesn’t mince words – she believes the other teams made a mistake in protesting a state high school league decision that was made before the state tournament started.
“One of the best things about sport that we can teach young people is how to respond to adversity and unfairness and perceived injustice. And this was a perfect teachable moment for coaches and parents to teach these young women that life isn’t always fair, but we always can respond with grace and sportsmanship regardless of what happens,” she said, adding that it was also unfortunate the opposing teams ended up forfeiting medals they’d actually earned.
As for Faribault, they enjoyed the celebration – one that was also attended by the Cannon Falls dance team. And they enjoyed their moment of victory, albeit a few days late.
“I got tears in my eyes because it was a moment stolen from them,” said Lois Krinke, the Faribault dance coach.