The Texas Tech team represented the state and nation while they performed in the festival’s grand opening parade viewed by millions of people.
At the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, the Texas Tech Pom Squad traveled more than 7,000 miles to represent Texas Tech in the Shanghai Tourism Festival in China, performing during its grand opening parade. The festival, which began in 1990, welcomes millions of people each year to celebrate with fireworks, entertainment, crafts, food and more.
The team was invited in April to represent Texas and the United States, and coach Erin Harold selected 12 team members who submitte an application and essay. For most of the team members, it was their first time on an international flight.
“Our trip to Shanghai was without a doubt the most exciting, eye-opening and rewarding experience of my life,” said Rachel Alexander, a senior Pom Squad member. “We had the privilege of meeting hundreds of people from all over the world and got a little taste of their culture, in addition to the Chinese culture.”
While preparing for the parade performance, the team put together a 20-minute routine. During the parade they opened up with “Rockin' in the U.S.A.,” and performed the routine four times throughout the parade route along with their traditional band routines fromTexas Tech athletic events.
More than 500,000 people lined the streets to watch the parade, and an estimated 30 million people watched it live on television.
“We got to perform in front of several venues and be a part of one of the biggest parades with several other countries,” said Tori Skillings, a senior Pom Squad member. “The people were so welcoming and allowed us to learn about their enriching culture. The trip to China was unforgettable, and I'm so thankful to have had the chance to represent Texas Tech in a whole new way.”
The Texas Tech Pom Squad stayed in China for seven days and visited, performed and experienced several things in China in addition to performing in the parade. They attended a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, toured a pearl factory, took a river cruise to view the Shanghai skyline, visited a famous Chinese calligrapher who made original paintings for each of the team members, went to the Shanghai museum, saw a Chinese acrobatic show and did a lot of local shopping and food tasting.
They also performed at a community center, a high school and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, one of the most iconic buildings in Shanghai.
On their last day, they travelled to Wuhzen – considered the Venice of the East – a town in the northern part of Tongxiang City, Zhejiang Province, where all the streets are navigated by boat.
Harold said she is thankful to Texas Tech for helping the Pom Squad travel to China to experience this once-in-a-lifetime chance.
“It was such a great learning experience for our students, and I know they were sincerely grateful for the opportunity,” Harold said. “They were able to meet so many people from all over the world and learn about different cultures and ways of life.”
The Texas Tech Pom Squad consists of dancers with extensive dance training in pom, jazz, hip hop and contemporary lyrical. The team competes nationally each year and makes more than 150 appearances, including university and community events, athletic events, and post season games and tournaments.
To see more of the team's trip to China, visit its social media profiles on: