The Waukee varsity dance team can now call themselves state champions, for the sixth year in a row. But they are celebrating a second victory about that day: the fact that their teammate and co-captain could compete with them.
Less than 6 months earlier, 17 year old Courtney Bavender underwent brain surgery.
“This summer on June 22nd I was going to work out in the morning and everything was going fine,” remembered Bavender, “and when I was driving back from dance I got an excruciating headache. It was just the worst pain I had ever had.” Courtney's parents rushed her to the hospital, expecting just a migraine, but a cat scan found something much more serious.
“I had a collection of blood vessels in my brain that burst and it caused bleeding in my brain,” said Bavender.
“I didn't really know what a brain aneurism was. I didn't think it could happen to a 17 year old girl who seemed to be completely healthy,” said Courtney’s teammate and co-captain Jordyn Glienke.
The second Bavender was out of surgery, her team was eager to help her towards recovery.
“By the end of the night we were down at the hospital and able to see her,” said Head Coach Stephanie Guiter, “She was their number one priority as a teammate and a friend, they supported her and did everything they could do to help her out.”
And Courtney wanted to be there for them in return, by filling her spot in the competition she and her teammates had been working so hard for
“She couldn't dance with us for the first couple months so that was sad, because she was on the side and couldn't dance with us. And state, we didn't even think that could happen,” said Glienke.
“It was important just for myself, that I’m just like anyone else, and everything bad that happens in your life you can come back and do anything,” said Bavender.
Bavender said she proved it to herself, when she and her teammates took home the win at the State Championships. “It’s so surreal. It was crazy. I would have never expected, especially after what I had been through that I could come back and win first place in a state competition, I still can’t stop smiling from it,” remembered Bavender.
“It`s a miracle. It’s amazing,” said Glienke, “She’s the strongest one on our team, that`s for sure.”
The team won two first place titles, as well as 3rd place in another category. They will compete in nationals in February in Disney World. They are hoping to place in the top ten for the first time.