December 2019

National Dance Coaches Association

Table of Contents

  • Conference Promo Video and Registration Open
  • Nominate Someone Today
  • Resource - 5 Signs of Toxic Leadership
  • Resource - How to Be a Great Assistant Coach
  • Gift Ideas for Your Team
  • The Bridge Dance Project Update
  • Featured Member - Erynn Butzke
  • Thank You to Our Partners
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Register Now!

The 2020 NDCA National Dance Coaches Conference is a perfect opportunity for ALL dance team coaches, judges, choreographers and advocates to recharge. Join us May 14-16 in Nashville, TN. Visit the link below to get registered today! #NDCA2020 #JustDanceYall
2019 NDCA Conference

The Best Gift for an Amazing Coach in Your Life? A Nomination!

The NDCA is continuously accepting nominations for:

  • High School Coach of the Year
  • College Coach of the Year
  • All Star Coach of the Year
  • Contributor of the Year
  • Hall of Fame

Nominators can be anyone - fellow coaches, parents, dancers, administrators. Nominees must be NDCA members (never too late to join!) Nominations are done online, and forms can be accessed on

DEADLINE for 2020 is December 31, 2019.

Time to Assess and Make Changes?

The new year will bring a busy competition season. December is a good time to do some assessments before taking a (much needed) break to refresh, recharge, and refocus. Check out these two articles:

1. 5 Signs of Toxic Leadership - Is the leadership on your team leading in the right direction? Use this article to assess, discuss, and set leadership goals for 2020.

2. How to Be a Great Assistant Coach - This article is bulleted and straight to the point. Have you ever talked with your assistant coach(es) about what their job is? What your expectations are? We can't expect our assistants to just know what to do. Like our dancers, we must have and communicate clear directions. Use this article to initiate a conversation and optimize their talents in the new year.

5 Signs of Toxic Leadership

This article was written by Quinn McDowell, founder of Arete Hoops. You can read more of his articles at this link: AreteHoops

5 Signs of Toxic Leadership

The well known author John Maxwell defines leadership as nothing more than one person influencing another. This definition gives us a singular focus when thinking about leadership in the context of a team dynamic. The idea that leadership is primarily influence, forces us to accept the notion that no one is exempt from the responsibilities that leadership requires.

Although certain players will exert more influence than others, every person on a team contributes to the culture of their program. If the entire team buys into a common vision of leadership that exerts a positive influence on those around them, the results can be amazing. On the other hand, if players decide to use their influence for selfish ends, the results can be toxic. Bad leadership spreads quickly and has devastating potential; but if you recognize the warning signs early enough, you can help save your team from self-destruction. Leadership is contagious whether positive or negative, so here are 5 signs that your team could be experiencing a turn for the worse…

1. Gossip

Gossip destroys trust and undermines team cohesiveness and togetherness. One of the most important strengths of great teams is their ability to insulate themselves against negativity. The only way teams shield themselves from outside influences is draw close and lean on each other during the inevitable ups and downs of a season. This “drawing close” process becomes difficult when players gossip about fellow teammates or coaching decisions. If a player has a problem with another player or is unsure of their role on the team, the mature way to handle these kind of doubts is to speak directly with the coach. Once the coach is involved, everyone can get on the same page and figure out a solution. Gossip is the cowardly way to handle tough situations and gossip destroys team chemistry.

2. Pouting

One of the signs of great leaders is their ability to celebrate team success despite how they perform individually. Of course it is easy to be happy about a victory when you score a lot of points, grab a bunch of rebounds, or dish out a number of assists. But the true test of great leadership is the ability to be genuinely excited about team accomplishments when you didn’t have your best game. Toxic leadership can start in the locker room after a big win when a player starts to pout because of a poor individual performance. This kind of pouting sends the message that MYperformance on the floor is what really matters and team success is secondary.

3. Poor Body Language

Your non-verbal communication as a leader is incredibly important. It communicates you’re feelings and shows the value of your priorities. For example, poor body language on the court after a teammate makes a mistake communicates a message of disgust and annoyance with that person. You are essentially telling that teammate, “I wish I had another player on the court with me who could play the right way”. This kind of communication coming from a prominent leader makes other teammates feel insecure and unsure of themselves on the court. Uncertainty leads to hesitancy which compounds mistakes and leads to poor team chemistry.

4. Negative Reaction to Adversity

There will come a point in every season when your team will have to respond to adversity. How these moments are handled by your leaders will set the tone for how the rest of the team responds in difficult circumstances. Your team might be losing to an inferior opponent and your leaders will have a choice to either blame the poor performance on someone (usually a coach or teammate), or take responsibility and figure out a way to improve the situation. Another example could be when the coach subs out a player during a tense moment in the game; how that player reacts to the coaches decision is important. The player can either sulk to the end of the bench consumed with selfish thoughts, or they can turn their frustration into positive energy and cheer their teammates on. Both reactions communicate specific messages to teammates and coaches. Toxic leaders tend to be consumed with their own predicaments are prone to have negative reactions to adversity.

5. Martyr Complex

The last sign of toxic leadership, is when players start believing (and telling anyone else who will listen) they are martyrs or victims. Whether it is coaching decisions, bad calls by the referees, unfair playing time, injuries, or incompetent teammates, leaders that adopt the martyr complex bring a dangerous presence to team dynamics. If players start to believe that someone else is the primary source of their problems, this creates a culture of entitlement and laziness. Rather than looking in the mirror and figuring out how to improve, martyrs look at their circumstances and blame others. Martyrs will never put up a fight in the heated battles of competition; but instead will take the path of least resistance.

About the Author: Quinn played basketball at Archbishop Moeller High School (Cincinnati, OH), 4 years at the College of William and Mary, 1 season in the NBA D-League, and 2 years as a professional in Australia. Arete Hoops is dedicated to helping people of various ages, backgrounds, skill levels, and athletic goals pursue excellence in and through the game of Basketball.

Gift Ideas for Your Team

We asked NDCA members for inexpensive gift ideas coaches can get/do for their teams (and have fingers crossed that you get the gift you deserve in return).

For Crafty Coaches:

1. Handmade Christmas Ornament – To take it up a notch, have each dancer email you one good memory from the season thus far. Cut and put each dancer’s memory into a glass or plastic ornament ball. Add some glitter and a bow to spice it up.

2. Luggage Tags

3. Clothes Hangers

4. Get a 4 X 6 inexpensive picture frame (Michaels) and decorate the frames with stickers. Drop in a team picture. You could also write one word that describes each dancer on scrapbook paper and glue it to the frame. Talk about each dancer as you pass them out.

5. A Personalized Mirror

6. Puzzle – Cut a team photo into puzzle pieces. Give each dancer his/her piece and have the team put the pieces together, highlighting the value each member brings to the team.

For Non-Crafty Coaches:

1. Car Decals – A sign or graphic shop can make sticker car decals for your team (for example SHS Panthers Dance Team).

2. Small lotions wrapped in cellophane wrap and a pretty bow.

3. Write a short note to each team member. Roll it up and tie it with a pretty bow.

4. Fuzzy socks with a note that says, “You knock my socks off when…” and then add something you appreciate about the dancer.

5. Personalized team logo notepads ordered from a service like Shutterfly or Vista Print.

6. $5 gift cards to Yogurtland or Starbucks. Attach an inspirational quote.

7. Rubber wrist bans with a motto or theme for the year, for example “Believe”.

The Bridge Dance Project - Featured in Dance Magazine

Since its inception, we've been following the work of Jann Dunn and Kaycee Cope Jones with The Bridge Dance Project. One of our partners, Apolla Performance Footwear and their spokesperson Mia Michaels, are also involved in this quest to connect members of the competition and commercial dance communities with dance science experts in order to reduce the number of dance injuries, especially in young dancers.

Check out this article explaining more about The Project. The NDCA will continue to participate in their meetings and follow their activities.

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Featured Member - Erynn Butzke

NDCA gives a warm welcome to our featured member, Erynn Butzke! Erynn has been the Spirit Squad Director and Head Coach of the Scarlets Dance Team at the University of Nebraska since 2011. She is a Nebraska graduate, earning a Bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education in 2003. Erynn was also on the dance team in college – they placed 2nd in Division 1A Jazz at the UDA College Nationals in 2001. Currently, she lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband, Andrew, and her two rescue dachshunds, Rose and Abigail.

How do you balance your dual role as Spirit Squad Director and Head coach for the Scarlets Dance Team? Are there any challenges to managing both teams?

I actually oversee the whole Spirit program, which includes the dance team, cheer squad and mascots. Up until last year, I was the sole coach. I’m sure I sacrificed a lot of my personal life before I was able to hire an assistant but my devotion to the program was out of love. The effort is similar to parenting. You just do what you have to do for the good of the group. I focused on the positives, communicated well with my administration to ensure we were meeting expectations and approached it all with a day-by-day mentality.

The most challenging thing is probably scheduling practice time. Knowing there was only one me required the team to be flexible and adaptable with my attention. I made sure to emphasize the unique differences in the role of each team, which seemed to help alleviate any feelings of competition among the groups.

If you could ask high school coaches to prepare your dancers for collegiate level teams - what kinds of things are you looking for? What skills would you want them to focus on?

On the physical side, I am looking for dynamic performers with superior technique and strong pom skills. Our fight song choreography demands the precision of a drill team and often the studio – exclusive dancers are inexperienced with pom. I also look for a high level of musicality. Dancers that can hear the nuances in music and translate that with their performance. Routines that reflect more than just “5-6-7-8” are far more entertaining for our crowd.

I am also looking for dancers of good character. When they get to Nebraska, they are expected to be a triple threat STUDENT – ATHLETE – AMBASSADOR. Their interactions can make or break a visitor’s impression about our University. Incoming dancers should be able to demonstrate that they’ve displayed honesty, integrity and a sense of personal responsibility before making the team.

What are some trends you are seeing in the world of dance at the collegiate level? How have things changed since you were a dancer for University of Nebraska?

I am seeing more crossover between the professional cheerleading (NFL/NBA) and collegiate dance world through the choreography we perform and artists that we work with. Our style leans slightly towards pro with big hair and big movement, especially at football and our crowd loves it.

Many things have changed since I was on dance team back in the early 2000’s! First, there are more dancers on the squad than ever before. I was on a squad of 12 and this season I have 19 dancers.

I also think the team is more visible than ever before. Everyone has a camera in his or her hand and with social media, squad members must recognize that their personal choices can affect public opinion of our brand. Steps in the growth process, including mistakes, are often out there for everyone to see/criticize. I didn’t have that. I admire my dancers for how much they respect our organization and willingness to put “we” over “me” in their daily thoughts and actions.

Since we just had Thanksgiving, tell us - what are some things you are most thankful for in your life?

I am thankful for many things! I am thankful to be able to work with extraordinary students in a full-time position. I am thankful for my staff and family that support and encourage me in my role through all of the late nights, early mornings and weekends full of events. It sounds cheesy but I am also thankful for NDCA for bringing coaches like me together and empowering us to be our best within our industry. The sense of community and fellowship I get through NDCA helps me fill my cup so I can give more to others.

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