OREM — In the long summer days and early morning hours, it may have seemed like the South Sevier drill team members were simply learning steps and stretches.

But what they were really learning was how dance is really just a metaphor for life.

Head coach Kelli Barton and her assistant coaches, Shauna Blake and Nicole Ogden said they hope the girls are more prepared for the challenges they might face after competing in drill for four years.

"We hope they learn life lessons: be prepared, love each other, work hard and coming together when things are tough," said Barton of the squad that claimed the 2A state title for the second time in three years on Saturday at UVU's UCCU center. In 1A, Duchesne continued its remarkable streak of dominance with its ninth title in a row. In 3A, Uintah won the state title. For all of the girls, it was a moment they've worked for since tryouts last April.

"These girls are such athletes," said Barton. "They do everything other athletes do, but they have to do it with a smile on their face. This is what we've worked for."

Senior captains Brynn Peterson and Cami Morgan said they've learned a lot about cooperation and compassion by coming together as a team of dancers.

"Being a senior, having to leave all the girls is the hardest part," said Morgan. "Also, I've loved doing the dances so much."

They said taking state as sophomores inspired them to work even harder after taking second place last year.

"We know we can take it again," said Peterson of how they pushed themselves through fatigue and injuries.

Barton said the seniors provided the kind of leadership that makes a coach's job easier.

"Having girls that set such a good example, it makes such a difference," she said. "I could totally trust these three (seniors) with the girls."

Adds Blake, "They know the traditions, they know what it takes to succeed. Some of the girls don't know how much you have to give."

Ogden said the makeup and sparkling costumes should not stereotype the dancers.

"They work so hard," she said. "They're such good people and they're so good at working together. It's not like other sports where you can have a star. They have to work together as one."

And Peterson adds, "And we don't know the score until it's all over."

The coaches believe drill offers as many life lessons — if not more — than any other sport. After all, in what sport does everyone have to be able to do the same skill, and do it in perfect synchronicity with each other?

In fact, drill could probably be best described as the perfect fusion of athletics and art.

"It take so much hard work and dedication," said Peterson, "It's definitely a sport."

EMAIL: adonaldson@desnews.com