National Dance Coaches Association
In This Issue:
- Conference Registration
- Seeking Volunteers
- Resource: Costume Travel Tips from Satin Stitches
- Resource: Great Teams vs. Destructive Teams
- Resource: Video Clip to Use with Your Team - Let's Remember Why We Dance
- Resource: When Mental Health Becomes a Weapon
- Featured Member of the Month - Tara Foglia
- Thank You to Our Partners
Join our Team! NDCA Seeking Volunteers
Looking to make a bigger impact on the world of dance team in 2020? Consider joining the NDCA all-volunteer crew. We are always looking for fresh faces to help with a myriad of tasks. Here are a few key positions we are looking to fill.
- Social Media Analytic - Must have knowledge of tracking statistics from various social media sites (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) and be willing to provide periodic reports.
- Partnership/Vendor Sales Team - Help find new potential vendors for the 2020 NDCA National Dance Coaches Conference and assist our Partnership Director as needed.
- District 6 High School Representative - Looking for a current high school coach in one of the following states: Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas,or Oklahoma to serve as a communicator, recruiter, and advocate for high school dance coaches in the area.
- Website Content and Updates - Help keep the website updated and full of the information our membership needs. Knowledge of WordPress helpful, but not a necessity.
Don't see a job that is a good fit? Contact us for other options that can fit your interests and time availability.
Costume Travel Tips from Satin Stitches
Are You Traveling This Season with Your Performance Team Costumes?
Instruct your team members on what to pack and how to pack it. If your team is flying, pack all essential costume pieces in carry-on luggage.
- Check (and recheck) to ensure items aren't missing.
- To avoid wrinkling your costumes, learn to fold or roll and place in plastic so liquids such as makeup, won’t spill and ruin costumes.
- A garment bag can be your carry-on item, and is the safest way to transport expensive, custom performance costumes.
- If you are unable to carry-on your performance costumes and accessories, ship ahead to your destination, so you can confirm arrival prior to your departure.
- If you are traveling by bus or train, make sure no luggage gets left behind by being very observant.
- Do a 'costume check' immediately upon arrival; to double-check that your team has all your luggage and costumes.
- Plan ahead and bring extra tights, gloves, gauntlets, headpieces, or dance briefs for your team.
- PLAN for the unexpected with contingency options – if costumes are lost, what can you wear instead?
To learn more about Satin Stitches, please visit their website by clicking here.
Resource: Great Teams vs. Destructive Teams
Need to do a quick assessment of your team/program? Run down this list of attributes of both great and destructive teams as laid in an article titled "Great Teams vs. Destructive Teams" featured on the website www.coachestoolbox.net.
“Prepare for every game/meet/match like you just lost your last game.”
Have positive leaders who:
- Work hard
- Take care of things on the floor/field
- Let the coaches take care of everything else
Have great team members who:
- Listen to each other
- Are courteous
- Say what they feel, but watch how they say it.
- Don’t talk behind each others back
- Don’t put each other down
Have players and coaches who accept and appreciate their roles on the team.
Work on improving their skills.
Share ownership in both victory and defeat.
Have a "we before me" attitude and are:
- Help teammates up
- Know roles
Push each other in practice to better prepare each other for the next game.
Self Destructive Teams:
Have Four Tough Opponents
- Negative attitudes
“What is your attitude?”
“What do others perceive as your attitude?”
Have we lost the love of the sport?
Are not willing to practice every day, especially when times are tough.
Lose track of their short term and long term goals. – What are the team’s goals?
Are more concerned with individual goals than the team goals.
Lack leaders who will lead by example:
- “Can talk the talk but WON’T walk the walk”
- Criticize teammates ”Run each other down rather than lift each other up”
- Are not coachable
See the full article by clicking here.
When Mental Health Becomes a Weapon from The Fearless Coach
As coaches, we are facing more challenges dealing with the mental health of our dancers. Here is a different look at the situation - How can we maintain team standards and discipline while still allowing for flexibility to work with athletes with mental health issues? Explore this current topic with The Fearless Coach.
When Mental Health Becomes a Weapon
A few months ago my phone rang and a 15-year professor and friend with countless awards for teaching was on the other end sounding desperate. With rave reviews and a fan club of students who return year after year with gratitude, this professor shared that they were under fire by the university for not passing a student.
The professor explained how this student had been late on several assignments and failed to turn in the final essay. For each tardy assignment the student had a specific excuse why they could not complete the work. This ranged from a computer crash, glitchy access to the school website for make up the work etc. While the professor was concerned and had offered to help each time, no other students were experiencing these technical difficulties and few of the excuses added up. The student openly admitted to missing a Friday class because they had friends visiting from out of town. This professor explained that they stood their ground just as they would any other student who was violating course policy and at the end of their meeting the student shouted "you will pay for this for not supporting my mental illness and depression".
This professor was crushed and puzzled by this threat as no prior mention of mental health had been made but in this moment it was too late and the student stormed out. By semester's end this professor has been promised a meeting with human resources to defend the application of basic of policy. A career being in jeopardy is just one of the casualties of the casualties of countless situations just like this.
This piece is not set out to debate that mental health is not a concern at every level in every profession and particularly the college setting.
Our institutions are largely understaffed and poorly equipped to deal with the massive demand for resources in the area of mental health. We must get a handle on this and aim to achieve a balance between compassion, support and reason. Without recognition and collaborative effort now, we will see more leaders, teachers, professors and coaches be dismissed on grounds of mental health claims by their constituency.
The Fearless Coach (www.fearlesscoach.com) receives a few inquiries a week from leaders in this position where a student has violated team/classroom policies and has been excused by the administrations for poor behavior, lack of attendance or incomplete workload. Academic and athletic leadership remains frozen while counseling centers are overworked and throwing their hands in their air with little methodology to distinguish one case from another. Without informed protocol, these institutions' first instinct will be to get rid of the professor, teacher or coach that the student or athlete is dissatisfied with. This is of course in place of conducting an investigation to gain any sort of reasonable conclusion.
Team Rules and accountability are at risk.
A D-2 college coach recently shared with me about an athlete who repeatedly violated team rules by underage drinking, defacing property, and racial slurs at teammates and opponents. After several meetings and warnings as outlined in the team rules, he eventually suspended the player. To the coach's surprise, the athlete appealed this decision to the administration with the defense that the coach wasn't starting him and it was causing him to act out.
Despite even the team coming forth with concerns over their teammate's behavior the administration remained completely focused on obtaining assurance that the athlete stayed a member of the team. As a result, the coach began to lose the confidence from his other players while it affected the culture in a negative way the remainder of the season. The parents of this athlete have threatened to sue which will obviously compound the threat this makes to this coach's career.
We must bring back objectivity, and find a middle ground for schools, universities and businesses to be able to maintain high standards and instill accountability while simultaneously supporting and tending to the growing mental health epidemic. Our coaches, teachers and professionals will continue to feel fragile in their livelihood if we do not address this together and empower the educators on the front lines. A few ways we can achieve this are as follows:
1. Institutions should secure outside entities to do their investigating when these accusations arise in relationship to mental health.
When these situations arrive, not only are your senses heightened at the thought of parental backfire and legal ramifications but you are also faced with risking the absence of objectivity. We must look outside our institutions for objective third parties or firms who can conduct a proper and unbiased investigation.
When we get to a point where we allow anyone to use the words "mental health" as a form of weaponry against the system without merit, we are actively redirecting our attention away from those who are suffering and do require our most powerful resources and support.
We are setting precedent for future, classes, teams and work environments. Over the course of my 12-year NCAA career I have dealt with a few students that have knowingly used the words mental health when it came time to take ownership or accountability over broken team rules, being disrespectful, bullying teammates or violating drug and alcohol policies.
As educators we recognize that we may not always get every athlete or student on board with what we are teaching or instilling. However, we have all had heartbreak and anxiety over those students who have solicit their inventory of excuses for not meeting deadlines, not completing projects, behaving inappropriately or violating company/team rules. Unfortunately, even though this is such a minuet number in the industry, this minority is the group that possesses true potential to end careers while risking their own personal development.
2. Administrators must work directly with their professors or coaches to understand the existing environment and challenges
Professors and coaches are not therapists nor psychologists but they are professionals who want to work in environments that are safe for both the students and themselves. Impress upon your staff the importance of documentation for each interaction with the students and encourage them to come to you early on if they see any issues arising from a problem student that may have a deeper rooted issue.
3. Alert your classes and teams to any and all resources in the areas of mental health.
Mental health has become a hot button topic and is evolving in the way that we view and approach the issue. Making consistent reference to availability of resources and documenting how often you announce services and accessibility will continue to be crucial and valuable when explaining to a superior or legal team.
4. Work with your faculty and staff to understand existing mental health policies
The majority of these situations have grown so far out of hand, by the time a superior level of admin is involved, it's far too late. Recognizing this early can be a challenge and we all want to be as sensitive and swift with getting the right help in place. However, waiting until you are being brought in for a review to absorb your institution's policies may be too late.
5. Disabilities are not an excuse for bad behavior
The NCAA has language that includes neutrality on mental health similarly in how it regards student-athlete pregnancy. Both mental illness and pregnancy call for recognition of the issue, but are not excuses to behave in ways that violate team standards and rules. As an example, if an athlete becomes pregnant, she cannot be cut because of her pregnancy. But, if she misses practices unrelated to that pregnancy, (not due to a doctor’s visit or doctor’s orders to take a break) breaks a team standard like speaking ill of coaches or teammates or violates team standards of behavior, regardless of whether it is related to her duties as a new mother, she can still be disciplined. These conditions and situations do not grant immunity for the regular standards and bylaws of a team.
"Just because someone is in a protected category - race, religion, national origin, ability, sex... doesn't mean they are exempt from the requirements of the program. Meaning, if an athlete has a mental illness, they're excused from practice in order to see their treating counselor or physician to treat their mental illness." - Nancy Hogshead-Makar, CEO Champion Women, Title IX Lawyer and Olympic Champion
At the forefront are the students who are genuinely suffering in the system and we must demand perfection to be able to decipher between those who desperately need us and those who wish to escape the most basic of consequences.
If this piece feels bold to you, that's because it is. There are plenty of informational resources out there to show that our system supporting mental health could improve but what isn't being discussed is the underground world of how this being unjustly applied and affecting livelihoods. Special focus and support of mental health challenges in education and business should not be a reason to eliminate accountability. There must be a balance.
To access the article, click here.
Featured Member of the Month - Tara Foglia
NDCA is delighted to feature Tara Foglia – a successful high school varsity coach from Smithtown, New York! Tara has coached for 22 years, and is currently coaching the Varsity dance team at Smithtown West HS. She graduated from Commack HS and was a member of the dance team. She also danced competitively at TJE Dance Force and is a former NDA Head Instructor. She started a Facebook page for dance coaches in 2016 that has grown as a vast resource for coaches all over.
I understand that you graduated from Commack HS and then coached there as well. How did you come to coach at your alma mater? What was it like coaching a sport you had previously participated within? How is it different now, coaching at Smithtown West?
My younger sister was a senior captain on Commack the first year the started a JV program. The varsity coach asked me to help the newly formed team and from there, as they say, the rest is history. Helping the first year turned into becoming the coach the following year, after that I was asked to be assistant Varsity coach. Coaching at your own high school is definitely something special. I started so soon after graduating that I had known some of the kids for years (which was a blessing and at times a curse). I knew the program’s history like the back of my hand because I had lived it. There is so much to be learned from a program’s history and the girls recognized that I knew what I was talking about because I had been there for some of it.
I don’t know if dance team is even the same sport as what I did back in the 90s! It has evolved so much. But again I think the team members look at me and know I can relate to some of what they are feeling because I have experienced it as well. Having been at West for so many years now, it feels like the program I grew up in. I also lucked out in that the district split into 2 high schools 2 years before I started coaching there....so again much of the history of our program I have been around for. We have a very strong alumni presence at West....something I LOVE and encourage so that sense of history and belonging and truly becoming part of a family is very strong, and it’s one of my favorite things about coaching at West.
As a veteran coach, what advice might you give other high school dance coaches just starting out? What is your greatest success as a coach?
Always be clear in your expectations with the team. My girls know I don’t lie to them. They know what I expect at every turn during a season, and they know I only have those expectations because I believe they can achieve them. Also, work just as hard as you expect your team to work. The greatest compliment any of my girls has very given me is that they knew they couldn’t slack off because they saw that I never did.
My greatest success as a coach is definitely that my girls come back. I actually just got back from our annual alumni practice. Every year I invite alumni to come to practice and work out with the girls. Very little working out occurs but it’s a great way for the current girls to get to know the “old girls”. But alumni come back throughout the year, some surprise us at nationals, and many send me messages throughout nationals weekend. I am very blessed that the girls still want me as part of their lives. I’m even getting invited to their weddings now!!!
You started a Facebook page for dance coaches. Can you tell us a little more about what prompted this and how it's grown?
The page is called Dance Team Coaches. It came about after the music rules came out in March of 2016. It started as a way for all of us to figure out what to do. We weren’t getting a lot of answers from the people who passed down the rule and we were all getting different tidbits here and there. It was really just my way of condensing everything we found out into one place for coaches. It has since turned into a resource for all types of dance team needs, which is amazing. Coaches can get different vendor recommendations, ask for advice about team issues, and share experiences that otherwise we wouldn’t be able to do. It’s one of the reasons I love the coaches conference so much.....it’s the FB page in person. Both provide an environment that’s away from the stresses of competitions and just lets coaches “swap shop”. No matter how long you coach you can always learn, and should always be willing to change.....anything from a Pom vendor to a music editor.
If you could have any "wish" fulfilled, what would it be?
I would love to meet Chris Evans! [Captain America for those few non-Marvel fans!]