Sunday, August 7, 2011


For the past two seasons, I was an assistant coach for my high school's dance team - the same team I once danced on, years ago. Though I'd never considered until I was approached, I quickly fell in love with the team, and my role within the coaching staff.

My favorite moment of coaching came early last season, when my gals were having an off day. They weren’t just listless, they looked straight up miserable each time they performed the routine - and we still had two hours of practice remaining. I turned on a shitty pop 40 song - I think it was something by Christina Aguilera - and for five glorious minutes, we had an all-out dance party across the floor in the school cafeteria. One girl, in between gasps of laughter, exclaimed, “This is the most fun I’ve EVER had dancing!” and my heart leapt. We returned to practice, and while we weren’t overly productive, I’m pretty sure no one cried on the way home that night. That, my friends, is beyond successful - we’re talking about 29 high school girls, after all.

I worked to achieve a personal relationship with each member of my team, while also maintaining their respect. I developed individual talent while merging that into a synchronized unit that excelled at each competition. The girls adored one another, and I knew our team was a place in which they felt comfortable and liked. It didn’t hurt that we won - a lot. While the coaching staff stressed that improvement was our only goal, we secretly squealed alongside them as we were announced in the top three at most competitions.

I think I might be better at coaching than I am at almost anything else. So when the head coaches retired this year, and I wasn’t hired as the new head coach, I was simultaneously bewildered and devastated. Being passed over felt personal, even if it wasn’t. Coaching had become a core part of my identity, and then it was gone.

As when anything else ends prematurely, I still have “coaching tics” - I choreograph in my head, take mental notes of good color combinations for costumes, bookmark songs for potential routines. I’m sure that will go away, but I’m also not ruling out a return with a different team in the future. It would be strange to coach a team that isn’t such a unique part of my own personal history, but to not coach would be the strangest feeling of all.

Here's the world's worst photo ever taken of me - I'm cheering on the gals at last year's state tournament. IRL, I do not have a hook nose or multiple chins. I also don't usually wear paisley button-ups, but we were doing a boogie dance... (Photo Credit)