By Bob Wason and Anthony Cacchione
The Jamesville-DeWitt High School’s Step Team, “JD’s Finest” is looking to step it up this year. Veteran step teamer, junior Ben Wipper, said he wants to “learn fresh new steps, collaborate with the girls, and do better than last year’s team.” But this step team has something unusual: two boys, Ben Wipper and Brian Cieplicki.These two are entering their second year on the step team, and they’re looking to dominate the halftime performances during the Varsity Boys Basketball games.
Coach Victoria Woods said Wipper and Cieplicki are “a joy to have on the team. They have a great level of enthusiasm.” Step team’s first performance isn't until basketball season starts, but they are already practicing and working hard. This year, Wipper and Cieplicki want to work on minimizing errors in their routine as well as improving the group’s chemistry and synchronicity on stage.
Junior Essence Britt is one of the captains this year, and she thinks very highly of the boys.“(Wipper and Cieplicki) are pretty good at being leaders, as well as being in control,” Britt says. “It was funny when the boys joined, but when it comes down to business they are very serious, and they might even know the steps better than the girls." Britt said.
Cieplicki is also very excited for this upcoming year. Some big events that are coming up for the team are the halftime shows at the Varsity Boys Basketball games and the Winter Pep Rally. Watch out for Wipper and Cieplcki at the basketball games, they have a special “Pal Step” going on this year. “I’m hoping for big, out-of-school gigs like last year’s performance at Lockheed Martin,” Wipper said.
The reason Wipper joined step team is because “it looked like a lot of fun, so (he and Cieplicki) jumped in.” When they joined, the returning step teamers were very accepting of the boys. “They were surprised we showed up, but it was a welcoming feeling,” Wipper said. Cieplicki tried out last year because he was intrigued and wanted to branch out. “ Some members thought it was unusual that a kid like me would try out,” Cieplicki said. “I don’t think it is a disadvantage being one of the only boys on the team, as much as I see it as one of the many exciting aspects of being on step."
For more information about the team, talk to captain Essence Britt.