JAMESTOWN, Mo. — Growing up in Jamestown, Cara Scheperle couldn't wait to become a Sapphire.
She attended the high school dance team's clinics for younger students and looked up to the members.
Now, a senior and in her fourth season with the Sapphires, she enjoys performing for her hometown at basketball games.
"We put a lot of work into this," Scheperle said.
The Sapphires also will continue a six-year tradition of performing at a St. Louis Cardinals game Thursday. The Jamestown dance team will perform prior to the 6:15 p.m. game at the Ford Plaza.
The team chose its favorite routine for the Thursday performance, which will appear on the Busch Stadium big screens for early-bird fans.
"It's very sassy," Coach K.C. Eddy said. "The girls like being able to show that side of their personality."
The Cardinals performance is a different atmosphere and crowd for the dancers, Scheperle said.
"It gets us out of our comfort zone," she said.
The dance team was formed 13 years ago by Colleen Patton, who returns from St. Louis each year to host a clinic for the team.
"We're her special project, since she started the team," said Eddy, who is in her 10th year as coach.
Their primary performance is half-time of Jamestown basketball games. However, participating in the St. Louis Cardinals Pom-Cheer-Dance program has become a tradition, too. They're required to sell 150 tickets, provided at a discounted cost. It is a fundraiser for the team.
This year, since they are performing before the Cardinals-Royals game, the team has sold nearly 400 tickets.
That provided enough funds to send the team to the UDA dance camp at the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, last month.
"It was our first time at a UDA camp; it was intense," Scheperle said. "When we got past the stress, it was really fun."
Each year, their program evolves. Some routines are choreographed by Patton, others by Eddy or the team. A few this year were brought back from the dance camp.
The team also brought home an "All-American" dancer.
Emily Strein auditioned for the All-American Dance Team and was selected, making her eligible to perform in London, England, in a New Year's Day parade. Unfortunately, costs may keep her from participating.
Strein has been dancing since age 3, first in California and then on a competitive team in Osage Beach until age 13. Then she had to take a break before joining the Sapphires.
Just a few months ago, Strein underwent her third back surgery. And she continues to dance. "It's always been a way I can express myself," she said. "It's always been a part of me."
As she looks to college next year, she hopes to try out for the University of Missouri Golden Girls, to continue her love of dance, she said. Unlike her competitive dance team, the Sapphires offer a sense of family and fun, she said. Strein said she is able to bring positive leadership.
She said she would like to see community support for the dance team increase.
"We're there for their entertainment," Strein said.