During halftime of every basketball game this winter, heads turn toward Antonia Leggett ’15 and Alejandra Uria ’15 as the pair leads the Andover SLAM team to the center of the court. Co-Captains Leggett and Uria are the commanding voices of SLAM as it rallies the Andover crowd with polished technique and passionate spirit.

Uria, a four-year Senior from Houston, TX., fell in love with SLAM when she saw the team perform at Grasshopper Night during her sister’s Junior year. She has been a member of SLAM since her Junior year and feels that the team is now like her second family.

“SLAM gives me a community of friends and a support system that is so unique and distinct from the rest of the Andover community. While learning, choreographing and teaching steps is undoubtedly hard work, SLAM still manages to be an immense stress relief for me,” said Uria.

Leggett, who has also been a member of SLAM since her Junior year, is a four-year Senior from Manchester, Mass. Like Uria, Leggett was inspired to try out for the team after she saw a SLAM performance at Grasshopper Night. She particularly liked the power and confidence the group exuded.

Leggett traces her love for stepping to her Junior year.

She said, “When I was a [Junior], my Prefect practiced with me for countless hours before my audition and before each game. As I’ve grown up through SLAM, it seemed only natural for me to help newer members. I love how stepping gives a sense of confidence through the routines, but this confidence carries off the court as well.”

The Co-Captains have created a tight-knit environment in which newcomers feel comfortable. Fellow team member and newcomer Miriam Feldman ’18 had nothing but praise and admiration for this year’s leaders.

Feldman said, “I really admire their dedication to SLAM. I admire their skill and the fact that they have a lot of patience for us because the majority of our team is new this year.”

Both captains attribute SLAM’s success to the determination and commitment of the team.

Uria said, “Nobody joins SLAM knowing how to perform the perfect step. However, after many hours of practice both with and without the team, members improve significantly and gain unprecedented confidence in themselves and their ability.”

SLAM requires the ability to learn quickly, but Leggett stressed that members must be passionate about the team.

She said, “Having the sort of energy required to step for the basketball teams is difficult to teach, so you need to be ready to shout and step with everything you’ve got.”

Leggett was also quick to mention that her favorite aspect of SLAM was the fact that the team cheers for both the Boys and Girls Basketball teams.

Legget said, “In this country, spirit groups predominantly focus on cheering for the boys teams ­— a longstanding tradition which devalues female athletes and their amazing abilities. SLAM has always cheered for both the Girls and Boys Basketball teams, and I love helping to get people excited to watch all of the Andover basketball players – no matter what gender.”

Leggett and Uria hope to enter SLAM in a competitive league to legitimize its often-questioned status as a sport.

Uria said, “I hope to coordinate a step competition between New England schools with step teams. Many like to argue that SLAM is not a sport by the justification that SLAM does not compete. If we could put together a competition with judges unaffiliated with any of the schools competing, we could potentially be better recognized on campus,” said Uria.

When asked about the future of SLAM, Leggett added, “SLAM will continue to make the beat drop; that you can count on.”