Good morning, Coug fans!
Today I wanted to take a closer look at an athletic program that occasionally gets overlooked, despite being at the center of most games.
You see them on the sidelines, they perform during games, they welcome you to campus, or gymnasiums, or football fields. They compete on their own, and they uplift everyone around them. But who are they?
In this case, I’m describing the Crimson Girls, Washington State’s dance team! While often mistaken as a part of the cheer team, both programs have their own unique roles and requirements, and today we’re taking a closer look at what it means to be a Crimson Girl.
The core values of the Crimson Girls are commitment, optimism, uplifting, graciousness, and selflessness. After having the opportunity to talk to Captain Anastasia Trinidad, I couldn’t pick better words to encapsulate the Crimson Girl outlook, or their personal attributes, even if I tried!
This past Friday I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Trinidad, and as their season starts to pick up speed, I wanted to talk with her about all things Crimson Girl: their practice schedule, tips for staying focused and making sure their minds and bodies are competition ready, and what it means to be a woman in sports.
Anastasia Trinidad is a 4th year CG who came to WSU with the intent of being a Crimson Girl, and she rose to the rank of captain. This meant a lot to her, as she informed me that the team votes for captains, it’s not a coach appointed role. However, she expressed how leadership isn’t reserved for captains.
When I asked her to describe the leadership dynamic on the team, she said:
“Our team has a culture where no one is afraid to speak up, everyone has mutual respect for each other, and offers constructive criticism. It’s very uplifting.”
The main focus for the atmosphere is to boost each other up, so everyone can be their best.
When asked about her strategies for leadership as a captain, she said she finds her strength in the role of: “being able to lift everyone up, and knowing when to fall back and encourage other voices, encourage confidence. True leadership is knowing when to step back and be approachable, and help everyone grow.” Trinidad credits their coach, Payton Ibos, for a lot of this strength. Trinidad walked me through how Coach Ibos prioritizes their mental wellness along with physical. The team are given journals, and encouraged to write about different prompts that are meant to clear their heads and make sure they’re performance ready. They meditate as a group during cool down, and Ibos even shares a sort of Daily Devotion, that isn’t necessarily denominational, but centers around finding inner strength and inspires all walks of life.
They practice Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, and have team workouts on those days in the evenings, with the actual performances or competitions taking place on the weekends. Things get shifted around for basketball season and their competition season.
Crimson Girls have the unique experience of rooting for different sports, while being a sport themselves, and they train for those two role requirements accordingly. Gameday spirit and Competition spirit are two entirely different categories.
When preparing for game day, they arrive four hours early, and their routines are centered closer to dance and enthusiasm, and are driven towards fan engagement.
However, when it’s their turn to compete, they train technically in jazz. There’s a second secret category of training for competition season, which will be unveiled soon on their social media- so keep an eye out!
Trinidad outlined their 13 hour practice days, or ‘two a days’ as the team calls them. These days are designed to clean the routine, refine the technique, and make sure the whole squad is in complete unison. She talked about the competition atmosphere:
“The best way I can describe it is intense. Everyone is locked in. It’s all about us, we spend the whole year being able to cheer on other teams, and this is our chance to be in our zone.”
They walk into the competition place, and are surrounded by teams from Ohio State, Alabama and beyond. According to Trinidad, the key is to hit the mat confident and assured. She emphasized how their Wheatfield Underdog mentality is strong, and how the Crimson Girls are eager to prove a whole batch of opponents wrong about underestimating them.
My favorite take away from our conversation was discussing the change in narrative around women’s sports today.
Trinidad emphasized the importance of staying grateful and being present:
“Really it’s important to just stay grateful. It’s easy to fall back on not having as much attention as the revenue sports, but we are very lucky to be where we’re at, so we try to not fall towards the negativity.”
She was quick to spread the accolades to her team- specifically her fellow seniors. When I asked her who inspires her the most, she said:
“The senior class. I’ve seen them all become more confident throughout the years both in dance and in normal life, pushing through mental blocks - it’s so inspiring. The “mean girl” or “fake” narrative is not applied to this. Everyone has everyone’s best interests at heart, and are there to support what everyone is doing.”
She mentioned too how the Crimson Girls are especially grateful for the Women’s Basketball team, and how they as a team also have each other’s backs, and are skilled at being present for other sports. As people and as a program, Trinidad finds inspiration from them.
In this conversation, and many she’s seen around various athletic programs, there’s been a positive shift towards educating what it is that the Crimson Girls are responsible for.
Crimson Girls are a vital pillar in the athletic ecosystem, and entertainment ecosystem, at Washington State.
I had the most wonderful time getting some insight into a truly athletically intense, emotionally supportive sport, and I’m so honored to provide a window to that experience here! Below I’ve attached a small gallery of pictures for your viewing pleasure.
Go Cougs, and go Crimson Girls!!