Hi all 🙂

A few weeks ago, I decided to share with you my decision to audition to be a Stanford Dollie. [Click here if you missed it!] I’m still not sure what compelled me to do that, but I’m so glad I did because now I get to write about one of the most transformative experiences of my life.

For the lost:
The Dollies are 5 dancers that are part of the famous Stanford Band. They dance to band music at football, basketball, and volleyball games. They are low key the hottest, goofiest, most lovable ladies on campus. Auditions to become a Dollie occur every year in early February, and consist of two pre-choreographed dances, and one self-choreographed solo. There are three rounds: First cuts, second cuts, and a final round of interviews. 

Important tidbit: I have no formal dance experience. Zero. Zilch. Nada. None.

The current Stanford Dollies. Aren’t they adorable?
The Inspiration

Flashback to Admit Weekend 2014: I’m walking through the labyrinth of tables at the activities fair, soaking in the massive display of extracurricular diversity. The only commonality that I find between the vast variety of cultural, athletic, social, business, and academic groups is their insistence that no experience is needed to join their respective organizations. Here, I realized, was a place where you were ENCOURAGED to step out of your comfort zone and try totally new things. Like, kinky new. This complete sense of intellectual and extracurricular freedom is integral to every aspect of the university, and is one of the main reasons I am absolutely in love with my school.
The students here reflect this “priority,” for lack of a better word. I once asked my ray of sunshine of an RA why she decided to study Japanese and then study, work and live abroad in Japan for six months without having any prior experience with the Japanese culture whatsoever. I will never forget her answer: “Because it sounded scary.” Students here share an appreciation for the exploration and expansion of the mind. It’s an incredible atmosphere to live in and an incredible community to be a part of. And boy, did I want to be a part of it.
When I learned who the Dollies were, I knew that that would be my Japanese. That would be my Kardinal kink. I would step a mile out of my comfort zone and try out to be one of the famous Dollies. 
That was the easy part.
The Decision 

Flash forward to early January of this year. I’m sitting in a large conference room at the shopping center on campus with the current Dollies and nineteen other incredibly talented girls at the ProDo (Prospective Dollie) Information Session. I lowkey cannot BELIEVE I’M THERE. AHHHHHHH. The Dollies go over the audition process, talk about their experiences, answer all of our questions, and at one point are suddenly interrupted by the entire band (and tree!) storming in from the back of the room screaming their heads off dressed in full-blown rally. They gather around the Dollies and begin playing the iconic Stanford fight song, “All Right Now.” (Play for full effect: click me right there oh yeah baby)
The dollies dance. 
The tree spins, jumps, and kicks. 
I gawk. 
This has got to be the coolest group of people on the planet.
Then begins the hard part.

The Preparation
A screenshot of a video of me practicing my dorm lounge. Finding practice space was the biggest struggle ever. (I’m looking at you, $18 billion endowment.)
For the next three and a half weeks I became completely committed to learning the three dances in preparation for first cuts. The Dollies hosted workshops and office hours. They cheered us on, helped us on our dances, and gave us feedback. They were some of the most encouraging and supportive girls I have ever had the pleasure of working with. I went to one of the campus dance studios late one Sunday night to practice my dances and crossed paths with one of the current Dollies just as she was leaving. She offered to stay with me for another half hour to go over the dances and answer all my questions one-on-one. Another evening I was scrambling trying to find space to practice when all the dance studios on campus had been rented out, and the Dollie manager let me into the Dollies’ private studio and let me practice there all night. (I ended up doing a lot of my practicing rather late, as it was often the only time I could.)
There were a couple times during preparation when the fact that I was preparing to audition to be a Stanford Dollie really sunk in. Covered in sweat at 1 AM, catching my breath between drills, I would just think to myself: ”I cannot believe I’m here. I cannot believe I’m going to get my chance to get to try to be a Dollie. OH MY GOD THIS IS SO FREAKING AMAZING.”

The Road Bumps
Even with all the help of the current Dollies, sometimes it was hard to continue on. Sometimes, covered in sweat at 1 AM, catching my breath between drills, I would just think to myself: “Why in the world am I doing this to myself? I KNOW I’m not going to get to be a Dollie with my lack of experience. What’s the point?”
One afternoon about halfway through the training process, I told my very good friend Allan (the big brother I never had, also known as the naked black guy in all my snap stories) that I was planning on dropping the Dollie journey entirely. I explained to him that I was struggling to find motivation to practice when I knew I wouldn’t be able to nail the dances technically the way the other girls would. I spoke with concern and honesty. 
Allan stared me in the face. “What?” he asked bluntly.
Me: “What?”
Allan: “Dude, what? No! You’re already in this. You’ve already gotten so far. You’re almost there. What are you going to tell people? ‘Oh I really wanted to be a Dollie and I went to all the workshops and office hours and sh*t but oh I didn’t go to auditions’? Like, what?”
He, in his uniquely-Allan way, made a lot of sense. 
Allan: “Dude, I know what you need.”
He then proceeded to sit me down and make me watch this video:
This sparked one of the greatest takeaways from my entire experience. I realized in that moment how truly blessed I was to be surrounded by friends who not only loved and supported me, but pushed me to be my best. They are not afraid to challenge me to be better, because they know I can do whatever I set my mind to. They believe in me, and I love that. I don’t know if I would have kept going through to auditions without them. (Shoutout to the dozens of people who reached out to wish me luck over the past month! You know who you are!!! xoxo)
SSSSOOOOOOOOOO (getting to the point here sorry bear with me)

The Big Day
Finally the day came. Attending the auditions to help judge who would move onto the next round were the current Dollies, the current tree, the current band manager, along with 30-ish ex-Dollies from classes as recent as last year’s to as late as the 70s. I was nervous. I was excited. I wanted so badly to steal one of the beers the old Dollies were sipping on and chug it down backstage. My palms were clammy, and I shook as I stretched, but I was so so SO stoked. I couldn’t believe the day had finally come. I MADE IT. I memorized the dances. I choreographed my solo. I drilled and drilled and drilled. Now, whatever happened would be exactly what was meant to be. 
When I was practicing in the weeks before the audition, one the things I noticed I kept messing up on was holding a smile. I noticed from some of the videos I recorded of myself that when I concentrated really hard on a difficult move, my face went completely b*tch straight. But on audition day, each time I walked into that room to dance, I couldn’t peel the smile off my face if I tried. I felt so happy, so honored, so fulfilled to be given the opportunity to perform in front of the members of such an awesome legacy. Basically THIS WAS SO COOL UGHHHH.
I left first cuts on cloud 9. Not because I felt like I would be going onto the next round, but because I did it. I FREAKING DID IT. I worked hard at something for nearly a month and gave it one hundred and ten percent. On top of that, the experience itself was straight up incredible. I got to meet the Dollies, train in the Dollie room, and visit the super secret Band Shak. I met other girls in my grade and made friendships that I know will last long after the final decision is made. (Including with the current Dollies!) I gained a new appreciation for my amazing friends who weren’t afraid to push me to be my best and not give up. I also discovered at some point (Probably when I was covered in sweat at 1 AM) that I really do love to dance. (I have already enrolled in a Beginner Ballet class for next quarter! Yay!) I felt proud of myself and thankful for the journey. I felt happy.

The Results
After auditions I returned to my dorm (in a near sprint) and promptly tossed back three shots of tequila. I was determined to be significantly un-sober when the results came. The decision arrived in my inbox at 1 AM, after I had already fallen asleep. I woke up in a slightly tipsy stupor at around 3 AM and quickly reached for my phone to check my email. 
My name was not on the list of girls who would be continuing on to second cuts. 
But I was okay with that. 🙂
I wouldn’t give up the experience I’ve had over the past month for the world. This journey and all that I’ve learned are things I will take with me forever. Who knows… maybe even into next year’s auditions. 😉
Thanks for listening,
Catherine

P.S. BEST OF LUCK TO EVERYBODY GOING INTO THE LAST ROUND OF INTERVIEWS TONIGHT! YOU’RE ALL BEAUTIFUL AND AMAZING AND ARE GOING TO KILL IT! <3<3 XOXOXO

Written by Catherine Goetze

Catherine Goetze www.cathincollege.com Find me on social media! Facebook: www.facebook.com/cathincollege Twitter: @catherinegoetze Instagram: @catherinegoetze SnapChat: @catherinegoetze Contact me: cathincollege@gmail.com

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