A Legacy Defined: Cilecia Fostercsudhbulletin May 11, 2023 0 COMMENTS
Celicia Foster poses with all four trophies and banner at the 2023 CSUDH Dance Team Celebration. Photo by Jena Rouser, Chris Perry Courtesy of CSUDH Athletics.
By Raymond Castillo, Sports Editor
If you have been to a game at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) then chances are you have seen the incredible show that the Toro Dance Team puts on every single time they step on the floor. What is not seen, however, is the years of hard work, sacrifice and dedication that these athletes have had to endure to build their legacy and finally be crowned the 2023 Division II Spirit Rally National Champion.
Led by their founder and current head coach, Cilecia Foster, also known as Cici, the Toros Dance Team has gone from a student-organized club to a full-fledged national powerhouse. Those who know Cici describe her as a delight, someone who is willing to do whatever she can to help.
Cici is more than a dance coach, she is a mentor, therapist and even a life coach among her other duties. She loves all of her athletes as her own. She loves winning and knows how important it is, but also recognizes that it’s not everything.
“My goal is to keep helping young people see their worth and learn the value in setting goals and seeing them through no matter how challenging the journey may seem,” Cici said.
Although the Dance Team is fully-funded by university athletics, it was not always that way. Foster said the early days of trying to get the Dance Team recognized were tough.
“It was a process of elimination to be honest. We were bounced around from being a club and org to being a club sport under the student union all the while we only focused on performing at athletic events so we then found a home in athletics,” Cici said.
Thanks to the leadership and support of CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham and Vice President for Student Affairs William Franklin, Cici and at the time, the Toro Dance Club were transitioned into the athletics department and allowed to grow and prosper into its greatness today.
Legacy is something that every program talks about, but very few actually mean. She takes that legacy to a whole other level.
Legacy is a group composed of many different members who love the team and want to offer support and guidance to help them out. It has become so strong that Foster hand picks her assistant coaches from that pool of talent
Alumni and former dancers constantly come back to campus, go to practices and competitions to support the current dancers and give them words of encouragement..
“One of the most important facets of the Legacy is that I typically choose my assistant coaches from that group,” Cici said. “This year’s assistant coaches were Marisol Maldonado and Sherry Abboud; both served as former captains on the team. They know what it takes to be successful because they experienced it themselves as student athletes. They both won regional titles while on the team.”
Cici said she would not be here without her own legacy – her mom, Kivia Foster. Kivia is known by all of Legacy and the current team as much more than Cici’s mother. She was Cici’s assistant coach for 13 years while also running the business side of the program. She allowed Cici to focus full time on coaching which allowed the team to excel on the floor.
That was especially important for Cici who learned how to dance at the age of 14, just two years before she started attending CSUDH. After finding her rhythm and becoming a head coach of the dance team, she had to shift her focus from classical to commercial style of dance.
“I had to learn to focus on performances that the crowd would actually enjoy watching. I have always been a very self-reflective person so I studied other dance teams at bigger schools as well as professional dance teams and improved my craft,” Cici said.
Like all good coaches, Cici is not satisfied with just one National Championship on her resume, she wants to add a double National Championship (A National Championship in Hip Hop and Spirit Rally). Not only for herself, she looks to elevate the Spirit Program entirely.
“I would love to elevate cheer, dance, and our mascot Teddy the Toro to National Championship status as well,” Cici said. “We have an amazing group of student athletes so if I had the ability to focus on everyone in a full-time capacity I know we would grow academically and athletically.”
Coach Cici has already won a National Championship, changed countless lives, and created a long lasting legacy.