McKenzie Downey, 20, shows that persistence is key and not to ever give up on your dream.
Downey is a Mustang High School graduate and a student at the University of Oklahoma. She tried out for the Thunder Girls three years in a row. She made it to the finals the past two years, but never made it to the team. This year she made the team and she said it doesn’t even seem real.
“I feel like it hasn’t even set in yet, but I feel like I’m on cloud nine. I couldn’t even fully describe to you the feeling that I have right now,” Downey said. “The past two years I was just so focused on it and trained so hard, and this year I just was easier on myself and I felt like I had more confidence going into it because I kind of knew already what to expect.
“I just walked in with confidence and knew what I was doing and what I wanted, and it all worked out in the end.”
Downey grew up dancing and said it’s what she loves to do. She attended two dance studios in Shawnee when she was younger, but spent six years at Dance Authority in Yukon.
Downey said she had a lot of help from Lateshia “LT” Dockery, a Thunder Girl alumna and the owner and founder of WERK Pro Audition Prep.
Downey started with WERK Pro last summer and participated in the whole program before auditions last year. She wasn’t as involved with WERK Pro this year because she works at Stella Rae’s in Norman and was taking online classes.
Downey also said she received help from Darcy Huffines, owner of Dance Authority. She helped her with her freestyle these past few years, as well as let her use Dance Authority’s studio when she needed somewhere to practice. Downey said Huffines is also someone she goes to for advice.
Downey is one of the 20 Thunder Girls for the 2016-17 season after 34 women made it to finals. Jamie George, of Yukon, also made the team for her third season.
“Don’t care what other people think and just keep trying for it if that’s something you really really want because eventually it will happen and it’ll be the greatest feeling ever,” Downey said. “I’m really looking forward to going out in the community in Oklahoma and meeting all of the new people and just interacting with them. And of course dancing in the arena because dancing is what I love to do.”