By Natalie DeFord, A&E Writer

Step boots, stomping and clapping can always be seen and heard from the steppers on campus, but Lute Nation is far more than just a step team.

The members said they are focused on collaborating, building a team, reaching out to the community and expanding the name of Pacific Lutheran University.

“Lute Nation is building a team,” senior Jessica Resop said. She said her favorite part is the team bonding, and that a big part of Lute Nation is learning everyone’s strengths and weaknesses as a team. There are no tryouts but rather all levels work together and welcome everyone. Anyone can join.

Resop defined stepping as creating a rhythm with hands, feet and legs.  She said a Lute Nation performance is all members coming together for a big, “conglomeration of parts.” But they are not just a step team.

Two first-years, Azana Hyneman and Roland Andrew Cruz Jr., as well as sophomore Yannet Urgessa, said Lute Nation has a greater purpose. All three joined Lute Nation this year and had never stepped before. They said there are challenges and obstacles, but they have been able to figure them out with their teammates. They also focus on giving back to the PLU community.

Hyneman said Lute Nation is a, “community-based step-team.” Cruz elaborated by saying the team’s goal is to expand PLU’s name to the community. “Everyone has heard of the big schools,” Cruz said, “but it’s our job to get PLU out there.”

Cruz said his favorite part is, “when each member learns a particular part of a step.” He also said that the most rewarding part is seeing it all come together.

“You can say that about life in general,” Cruz said. “It’s important to know how to work together as a team for a common goal — life is all about team building.

The big motto for the team is, “scholars before steppers.” Members are required to maintain a 2.0 minimum GPA, but they are encouraged to shoot for higher.

“We can’t be beneficial if we are not successful,” sophomore Jonathan Adams, a Lute Nation stepper, said.

Adams said his favorite Lute Nation aspect is the diversity on the team. “It’s really cool how we’re all different and still connect,” Adams said. “Everyone wants a place to fit in and feel welcome.” He said the team welcomed him in with open arms.

Adams said his personal goal is for members to, “stay focused and remember why you’re on the team — we perform but that’s just not what we’re based on.” He said he hopes members can, “maintain the idea that you are a stepper — people know who you are so you have to represent.”

Senior Mamie Howard is the president, captain and founder of Lute Nation and has been stepping for four years. This is the third year of Lute Nation. “It’s so much more than being a performance team,” Howard said.

Hyneman said Lute Nation gives back to the community by encouraging younger students that they can go to college. “It’s a big thing to encourage kids to go to school,” Hyneman said. “I think that’s important.”

Urgessa said Lute Nation reaches out to many elementary and middle schools. Adams said, “we explain that if you work hard and find something you love to do that you can get anywhere.” He said they also each explain their lives and how they got to where they are today, showing that anybody can get to college.

Howard, while working at schools, said she has seen the transition of kids who didn’t normally care about school begin to care after seeing Lute Nation come to town. She said her favorite part is seeing youth inspired in this way.

Lute Nation strives to work with and perform for all students regardless of socio-economic class, not just students privileged to go to specific schools. This is one of the many reasons the team chose to perform at Lakewood’s Boys and Girls Club Tuesday.

“They might not see things like this or even think about college, and we want to change that,” Howard said.

Lute Nation is also trying to collaborate with more teams, groups and organizations on campus. Howard said they are happy to help with trying to reach the community in any way, and PLU is always going to back such an effort.

“We’re always looking for new ways to collaborate,” Howard said.

Howard said Lute Nation will appear in Dance Ensemble this spring and they will be working with dancers.

More information and upcoming events can be found on the team’s Facebook page: Lute Nation (Fans).

“Everything we do is geared toward the community,” Howard said.

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