San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

A decade of dancing: the San Diego State Diamonds celebrates its tenth anniversary

First majorette team on the west coast reflects on triumphs and looks forward to future
Jessica Parga
The 2022-2023 Diamonds perform during halftime show on Oct. 8 during SDSU Aztecs home game against Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

Through dedication, art and leadership, San Diego State University’s majorette team, the Diamonds, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

Founded in 2012 by Maderia Toatley, the creation of the Diamonds was inspired by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) majorette dancing, which is different from traditional cheerleading. 

Majorette-style dance is choreographed in various styles consisting of West African jazz, hip-hop or dancing with batons in unison alongside marching bands — all during sporting events. 

SDSU initially did not have a majorette squad, and Toatley, who was involved in track, cheerleading and dancing at Stephenson High School, a predominantly Black institution in Atlanta, Georgia, wanted to bring her southern culture to the west coast.

“I definitely missed the elements of being at home, just being around the culture as far as being (part of) a bigger Black community… I felt that element was missing at San Diego State University, and a lot of organizations were doing things to implement more of that on campus,” Toatley said.

“But I just thought it would be neat to bring something that is so big in the south, and it’s something that no one has seen before. I felt there was a need for it.”

However, building the foundation for this team in its early stages was strenuous for Toatley as the Diamonds were not yet officially a student organization and drill team at SDSU.

Consequently, this caused Toatley to carry multiple responsibilities: being the team captain, mom, recruiter and coach for her teammates who were new to majorette dancing. 

Due to the Diamonds not being an official student organization at the time, Toatley also was tasked financially to create her team’s uniforms.

“I had to come up with a whole list of what we will be wearing, pick out outfits prior to the season, and say, ‘this is what the financial piece of it would look like, can you afford this? Can you not afford this? If you cannot afford this, then what can I do?’ So that was a lot on me,” Toatley said.

However, with the help of Natasha Hazely, Toatley’s teammate and college roommate, Carjay Lyles, one of the team’s first student advisers, and others, the Diamonds became the first majorette on the west coast with other universities following along.

Ten years later, the Diamonds is recognizing its anniversary, and Toatley is amazed to witness the continuation of her organization. 

The current 2022-2023 Diamonds squad is reflecting on this celebration.

Taylor Shorter, a returner for the Diamonds and third-year pre-comm major said the celebration is a “very big thing” — not only is it a big year for the school, but it’s also a big year for the team.

“It’s (the) 125th anniversary at the school, the 100th season of football and then the 10th season of the Diamonds,” Shorter said. “It touches my heart because the girls that came before me, and the girls that are here now… we’re working so hard to keep continuing the progress and create something bigger than ourselves.”

Senior captain and nutrition major, Sakina Buycks, is excited to be part of this achievement alongside her squad to be acknowledged by others. 

On Oct. 8, during the football halftime show for the Aztecs against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, the Diamonds performed for a large and compacted crowd. 

Diamonds’ coach, Brionna June, was in awe watching the halftime performance, and she felt it was a “perfect moment” to experience with her team.

“That moment when they got on the field, and they ripped those capes off, the crowd lost it,” June said. “The crowd went bananas, and you could just feel the energy. The girls felt the energy, you could see it. Their faces just lit up, and they came out there and left it all on the field.”

The halftime show also featured a one-on-one performance from Sakina. Her mother, Felecia Buycks, was thrilled to virtually see her daughter and team engage with the crowd.

“She (Sakina) sent me the video afterward, and I probably watched it 20 times,” Felecia said. “She was proud of that moment. It was great, I shared it with all my family and friends.”

Outside of performing, being a drill team and a student-found organization, the Diamonds are sisters sharing a close bond.

Kaya Thompson, a third-year dance major, said she is grateful to be surrounded by the Diamonds’ sisterhood. Thompson and her teammates are also devoted to continuing this organization’s legacy.

This year’s Diamonds squad is looking forward to the future and hopes to continue expanding its organization by providing outreach to upcoming majorettes.

“The San Diego State Diamonds are only getting better,” said Johvonne Robberts, third-year co-captain and journalism-media studies major. “We have so much more in store, and we’re ready to celebrate these 10 years with our alumni (and) with our sisters. I’m very excited and you guys will definitely hear more of us on social media and everywhere, so get ready.”

For more information regarding the Diamonds’ 10-year celebration, check out their Instagram for future updates and performances.

About the Contributor
Daesha Gear, '23-24 Editor in Chief
Daesha Gear (she/her) is a third-year transfer from Riverside City College. During her time at RCC, Gear was heavily involved with her student-run publication, Viewpoints, in which she served as the Opinion and News Assistant Editor. She has also been awarded an honorable mention by the Journalism Association of Community College for covering a feature story surrounding the lack of resources for LGBTQ+ students at her community college. Outside of covering for her student-run publication, Gear has freelanced as a contributor for a local Riverside newspaper called The Raincross Gazette. Outside of writing, Gear loves to travel, draw and watch classic horror films. Gear is thrilled to be part of The Daily Aztec, and she is ready to write more hard-news stories and serve her brand new community.
Activate Search
San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
A decade of dancing: the San Diego State Diamonds celebrates its tenth anniversary