St. Al’s Gabby Andrews signs with Southern Miss dance team

Published 8:00 am Friday, May 5, 2023

Gabby Andrews is Tappin’ to the Top.

The St. Aloysius senior on Thursday signed an offer to join the University of Southern Mississippi’s Southern Misses dance team when she enrolls at the school this fall.

“I’m so excited, because this dance team is competitive. I’ve been competing in dance my whole life and I’m excited to continue,” Andrews said.

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The Southern Misses are one of two dance teams at Southern Miss. The Dixie Darlings perform more traditional marching band and cheer routines at football games, while the Southern Misses have a more modern dance style and perform at basketball games.

The Southern Misses are also a competitive dance team that attends regional and national competitions. Andrews helped St. Al’s Flashettes troupe to a top 10 finish at this year’s Universal Dance Association’s National Dance Team Championship in Orlando, Florida, so continuing on as part of a competitive team appealed to her.

“I decided I wanted to go to Southern and there are two dance teams. I had to go to clinics and out of both the clinics I liked the Southern Misses more. They offered me a committed spot,” Andrews said. “In the past they’ve gone to nationals to compete. This past year they did hip hop and jazz. This next year they want to start doing smaller regional competitions to prepare them more for nationals.”

Andrews started dancing when she was 2 years old. She’s taken lessons from local instructor Debra Franco — sometimes six and seven days a week — and honed her craft for the past 16 years. She’s learned almost every dance discipline there is in that time.

“Tap and hip hop are my favorites. They (the Southern Misses) don’t necessarily tap dance,” she laughed.

Early in her high school career, Andrews said, she decided she wanted to continue dancing in college. Being a part of a team like the Southern Misses is the perfect way to do it.

“You don’t decide the year before that I want to try out for the dance team in college. To do it on this level, you have to work on your craft from day one,” Flashettes coach Chesley Lambiotte said. “Most of these girls that are on my team, and I know Gabby for sure, started dancing when they were 3. It’s discipline. It’s every day. She’s always at the studio. Not only has she done our dance team here at school, but she’s been on Debra’s competition team where they go and travel.”

Although dancing is Andrews’ passion, it’s far from the only thing she’s dedicated herself to. She has a 4.0 GPA and is planning to major in forensic science at Southern Miss.

“Dance team in college is a lot of hard work. A lot of effort. She is one of the most driven people and she’s so good at what she does,” Lambiotte said. “It’s a natural fit for her. She knew that she wanted to do it and I’m just so proud of her for taking it to the next level.”

Andrews thanked her parents, school and Franco for their support. She will receive a small scholarship for being on the Southern Misses’ roster, but dancing in college is “more because I want to do it,” she said. It’s also a reward for years of hard work.

“Dance has been a part of my life for so long, and it’s more like I need it so I’m going to keep continuing even past college, I feel like,” Andrews said. “It’s a lot of money, a lot of work. When I was competing for Debra Franco I was at the studio almost every day — even Saturdays and Sundays. It’s a lot of hours and a lot of hard work, but it pays off and it’s really fun.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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