By Karina Gerry
Lake Grove resident Maggie Webber has once again left her mark at the Irish dance regional championship.
The 14-year-old Centereach High School freshman was crowned the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Regional Champion in Irish dancing in the girls under-14 category, previously taking home the title in 2017 as well. The two-time champion is no stranger to the competition, having attended regionals every year since she was 5 years old.
“My ultimate goal is just to continue to love dance and to enjoy performing, and to just have fun everywhere I go and with the people I’m with while at class or competitions.”
— Maggie Webber
“It’s definitely nerve racking at times,” Maggie said. “[Especially] right before you go on stage, because you want to make sure you remember all of the things you’ve practiced. But when you get on stage it’s really exciting to just perform and have a good time.”
Regionals, which are held every year in Philadelphia in November, saw Maggie score a perfect 500, with each judge granting her performance a score of 100. While the award is always appreciated, it’s not the main goal for her.
“My ultimate goal is just to continue to love dance and to enjoy performing, and to just have fun everywhere I go and with the people I’m with while at class or competitions,” she said.
In the Webber household, Irish dance is a family tradition. Maggie’s mom, Debbie Lynch-Webber, owns Mulvihill-Lynch School of Irish Dance in Lake Ronkonkoma and has herself been dancing since the age of 7, when her mother, an immigrant from Ireland, signed her up for classes. In the years since, she has passed her love for the sport onto her daughter.
“My daughter just lives and breathes for it,” Lynch-Webber said. “She loves it, so it was never my push or anything — she just absolutely had such a passion for it from when she was 3.”
Someone competing at Maggie’s elite level has to train seven days a week. When she’s not practicing at the studio, she’s doing cross training at Parisi Speed School at World Gym in Setauket.
“As a dancer it is still extremely important to train and work on power strength and speed,” said Ryan Whitley, Parisi program director. “As an Irish step dancer, Maggie needs to have excellent body coordination, balance and speed. While we might not be actually dancing in classes here, she is still becoming a better dancer and athlete with everything she does in class.”
‘Dance is definitely one of the most important parts of my life.’
— Maggie Webber
Despite her busy schedule, Maggie has made sure to make time for other things, like hanging with her friends and playing on the Centereach varsity field hockey team, but nothing has replaced her love for dance.
“Dance is definitely one of the most important parts of my life,” Maggie said. “It’s always been with me ever since I was born, so I can’t imagine my life without it.”
Down the road, Maggie hopes to follow in the footsteps of her mom and receive her teaching certificate. In terms of the near future, she hopes to continue to dance her best and maintain a similar placement as the year before. With the World Irish Dancing Championships coming up in April, she would like to come in near last year’s fifth-place finish.
“Each year that I dance, whether the placement shows it or not, I do feel I mature and I improve as a dancer and as a competitor,” Maggie said.