Putting the ‘Roar’ in Roar-acle

This USF alumna leads the Warriors’ dance team

By MAURA SULLIVAN HILL, USF NEWS Posted Wed, 05/17/2017 - 10:33

When the Golden State Warriors take the court against the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Western Conference finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, they’ll be backed by a loud and loyal fan base. So loud, in fact, that some have nicknamed the arena “Roar-acle.”

The Warriors Dance Team gets the crowd pumped up at every game, and the woman at the center of it all is Sabrina Ellison ’99, the dance team director.

Ellison, who helped create USF’s first dance team when she was a student, oversees all aspects of the Warriors’ three dance troupes — from the branding and business to the choreography and rehearsals. 

Dancing for the 49ers

Ellison didn’t have any formal training in dance until she auditioned for her high school dance team, but from there, she followed her passion.

When she arrived at USF, the communication studies major and business minor wanted to get involved in dance, so she partnered with Athletics to create the university’s first dance team — focusing on strong dance routines, rather than cheerleading stunts.

“All the girls were hard working, and we all pitched in and choreographed,” she says. “We had support from USF, and they were excited that we were going to take it on and be dedicated to it.”

After graduation, Ellison danced with the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks in the NFL before transitioning to coaching.

For her first coaching job, she started another team from the ground up, as she’d done at USF — founding a dance team for the Spokane Shock, an arena football team in Washington.

“The experience of forming the dance team [at USF] and learning during that process gave me the confidence to pitch the dance team for the arena football team,” she says. “It led me to feel confident that I could be a coach.”

Helping Bay Area residents

Not only does Ellison expect excellence in the dance routines, but she is also committed to supporting the dancers off the court, and using the team to make a positive impact in the Bay Area. The team participates in more than 200 community events each year, teaching youth dance clinics, speaking about the importance of reading, and more.

“It’s so much more than just dancing on the court,” says Amira Mourad, a member of the Warriors Dance Team. “Sabrina set out to have a program that is about being a well-rounded woman, representing yourself well, and making an impact on other people’s lives.”

It’s this kind of supportive atmosphere that Ellison found at USF, and what she says enabled her to succeed in college. She transferred to USF from a large state school, and says, “I felt at home at USF, and the diversity of the school provided a place where I felt like I could learn and grow. I wasn’t a number and my opinion mattered.”

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