I couldn’t keep my eyes off them. Three guys and three girls moved and spun across the basketball courts, captivating onlookers with their fluid, practiced movements. Best of all, they sported infectious smiles that I couldn’t help but return.
NJIT’s Hype Team was formed last semester to “change the culture of NJIT,” said captain Nyija Butler, a sophomore mechanical engineering major. Starting with only three members, their numbers have grown to include eight NJIT students united through their passion for dance. “We come together during sports and school events to show a side of NJIT you don’t normally see,” said Nyjia. At an academic-focused technology school like NJIT, “people don’t really care about sporting events. We are showing them that there are students who do.” The team has performed at the Bear’s Stadium during a baseball game, and earlier this semester during Midnight Madness in the Atrium.
Nyija says that what makes them special is learning together by understanding each other’s passion for dance. Dance practice is now a weekly highlight that she looks forward to. They are people who love to dance – not just alone, but also as part of a team in a mix of styles and genres. It takes dedication to commit to weekly 9:15pm practice sessions.
When I stopped by last Monday, the team was preparing for the November 13th women’s basketball game. “Soccer games can get quiet, but I hope the basketball games are a bit louder,” said Jenna Meisner, a freshman biochemistry major. Jenna first encountered the Hype Team during this semester’s club fair, and was encouraged to try out by her friend, who is also part of the group. She enjoys that they “keep it fresh” through the variety of dances they perform, as each one is choreographed by a different member and incorporates their individual flair.
Sophomore Elissa was dancing alone in the studio as I chatted with Nyija. Impressed by her skills, Nyija encouraged her to stay and observe the Hype Team practice. By the end, Elissa, who said she “never knew there was a dance team,” was joining in their routines too.
The Hype Team meets every Monday at 9:15pm in the Athletics Center’s Multipurpose Room. Their advisor is Adesina Sampson, who also leads excellent Zumba PE courses at NJIT.