September 2019

National Dance Coaches Association

Table of Contents

Conference 2020

Coaching Tool - Social Media Presentation

Coaching Tool - First Day of Practice Video

Coaching Tool - First Parent Meeting Resource

Dance Team Podcasts by Melanie Dailey

Recommended Coaches Reading List by Mike Neighbors

Featured Member - Lara Lindersmith written by Pam Didier

Job Announcement - El Modena High School - Orange County, California

NDCA Partners


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Coaching Tool: Social Media - Creating a Policy

If you missed the 2019 NDCA National Coaches Conference, you missed an informative session by Coree Smith about team social media policies. Whether you are creating a new policy or re-evaluating a current one, Coree's presentation can guide you through the main legal issues today. Coree is a practicing attorney who also understands the needs of dance team coaches.

Coaching Tool: First Day of Practice Video

This is a great video for both rookies and returners to help them remember why they started this journey and why they came back for more. It encourages team members to improve themselves for the benefit of the team.
THIS IS YOUR YEAR - 2018 Motivational Video

Coaching Tool - First Parent Meeting Resource

Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders

If you attended the 2019 Conference, you know Growing Leaders. Founder Tim Elmore has written this article for/about parents. Consider sharing it with your dance team parents at your first parent meeting. For more information about Growing Leaders, check out their website:

In my work at Growing Leaders, we enjoy the privilege of serving numerous NCAA and professional sports teams each year. After meeting with hundreds of coaches and athletes, I noticed an issue kept surfacing in our conversations. Both the student-athlete and the coach were trying to solve the same problem. What was that problem?

You may or may not believe this, but even in Division One athletics, parents stay engaged with their child’s sport, often at the same level they did through their growing up years. Moms will call coaches and advise them on how to encourage their daughter or son. Dads will call coaches and ask why their kid isn’t getting more playing time. Parents will call strength and conditioning coaches and inquire what they’re doing about their child’s torn ligament. Each of these calls is understandable. After all, no one has more at stake than the parent of a performer. They love their child, they’ve invested in their child and they want to see a “return on their investment.” Some athletes refer to their mom as their P.A. (personal assistant) or their agent. I know a mother who watches her collegiate daughter’s gymnastics practice behind the glass, all the while, calling and leaving voicemails for the coach on what should be done for her little girl. I even know sets of parents who moved into a condo across the street from their freshman athlete’s university. They didn’t want to miss a thing, and they certainly didn’t want to neglect to provide direction. I understand this. I am a father of two kids myself.

What we parents may not recognize is the pressure and angst this kind of involvement applies. May I tell you what student-athletes are telling me?

  1. I love my mom, but when she does this, I get the feeling she doesn’t trust me.
  2. My parents are great, but I feel like I have multiple coaches telling me what to do and I get stressed out over it.
  3. I’m getting blackballed by my teammates because my mother keeps texting me and my coach, to give suggestions. I wish she would chill.
  4. I feel like I’m never quite good enough; I can never fully please my parents.

Moving From Supervisor to Consultant

According to years of research on athletes, I believe parents have a more productive impact on their kids by making a change in their style. When our kids were younger, we played the role of supervisor. We were right there on top of the issues. And we should be—they were young and needed our support. As they age, parents must move to the role of consultant. We’re still involved, still supportive, but we allow our kids to grow up and self-regulate. When we fail to do this—we can actually stunt their growth. It’s a bit like teaching our kids to ride a bike. Remember this process? First, we gave them a tricycle. The three wheels made it almost impossible for them to fall off, and they got used to pedaling a vehicle. Then, they moved to a bicycle. It was bigger and had only two wheels. A little more scary. So we initiated them on that bike with training wheels. That prevented bad accidents. Eventually, however, we took the training wheels off, and our involvement became a tender balance of two ingredients: support and letting go. Did you catch that? Support and letting go.

What We Should Say When Our Kids Perform

The most liberating words parents can speak to their student-athletes are quite simple. Based on psychological research, the three healthiest statements moms and dads can make as they perform are:

Before the Competition: After the competition:

  1. Have fun. 1. Did you have fun?
  2. Play hard. 2. I’m proud of you.
  3. I love you. 3. I love you.

Six Simple Words…

For years, I wondered what the student-athlete would say about this issue. After decades of work with athletes, Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller found out. They suggest six simple words parents can express that produce the most positive results in their performing children. After interacting with students, they report:

College athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame. Their overwhelming response:

“I love to watch you play.”

That’s it. Those six words. How interesting. How liberating to the parent. How empowering to the student-athlete. No pressure. No correction. No judgment. (That’s the coach’s job). Just pure love of their child using their gift in competition.

When I learned this, I reflected on the years my own kids competed in sports, recitals, theatrical plays, and practices. Far too often, I wanted to play a role that added more stress to their life. Instead, I now realize—I just need to love them. And to love watching them play.

From a parent’s view—this is the best way to cultivate an emotionally healthy kid.

Dance Team Podcast by Melanie Dailey

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Hello fellow NDCA members! This is Melanie Dailey. I own Larkspur Dance & Choreography, a company based in Kansas City, Missouri. We choreograph, instruct, judge, host competitions, and coordinate the venue for the Missouri Dance Team State Championship. We also host a dance team podcast! The Larkspur Dance & Choreography podcast wrapped up its first season after 25 inspirational and informational episodes, and we’re already working on Season 2. It’s been such a fun journey! Many of you have tuned in and we appreciate that so very much. You also have shared that you’ve learned a lot and have enjoyed it thoroughly. We appreciate that as well.

We’ve been asked many times about the catalyst for having a dance team podcast, so I’ll share a little backstory. So many of us that are involved in dance team got the distinct pleasure of being in the presence of Paula Hess. She was an instructor and director for UDA, a talented choreographer, an astute judge, and she possessed a megawatt smile and fantastic sense of humor that touched everyone in her path. During the last couple years of her life, I got the opportunity to judge with Paula and I absolutely adored her! I wish our paths would have crossed sooner. She said on more than one occasion that she thought there was a need for a dance team podcast. I didn’t give it much thought. I hoped at the time that she would be able to get that accomplished before she passed, but it never happened. I filed the idea away, and when my dear friend and company member, Fallon Gardner, said the same thing without knowing about my conversations with Paula, that was my sign to go ahead and do it.

It's been a labor of love and I've learned so much from Season One. The other members of my collective and I have noticed that we learn so much just by talking to other people in this field, and the support we get from conversations like these is both informative and energizing! That’s the main idea behind the podcast. It’s a compilation of interviews with dancers, instructors, choreographers, coaches, judges, and contest directors. Our hope is that each episode will provide useful takeaways and moments of camaraderie with all participants and listeners.

From the positive feedback we have received, I think it’s safe to say that the podcast has made our dance team world a little tighter and more inclusive. It’s been helpful in spreading both passion for and knowledge of dance team to people I’ve never met! It’s been downloaded and listened to in 35 states here in the US and in seven different countries total. Every episode is now recorded with this thought in mind: that some coach or dancer or choreographer that I’ve never even met, who lives in a far away state or country, is hopefully getting the message he or she needed to hear.

The Larkspur Dance & Choreography podcast can be found on iTunes, Spotify, and on all major podcast directories. We hope you’ll join us!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me at if you have a great idea for a topic or a person you’d love to have interviewed. Thank you to NDCA, and all the wonderful coaches out there, for letting us be a part of this unbelievably fantastic phenomenon known as dance team!

Check out Melanie's podcast at:

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Recommended Coach's Reading List by Mike Neighbors

Looking for an inspirational coaching book to be a theme for your new school year? Check out this recommended list by Mike Neighbors.

Neighbors is the head coach of the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team. He started his newsletter to help coaches of all sports share ideas and tips. He teaches coaches' training classes that implement all kinds of general techniques that can make you a better coach. He gathers information to share with all coaches and this reading list is one of his best!

Want to know more about Mike Neighbors?

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Featured Member - Lara Lindersmith

The NDCA is excited to introduce Lara Lindersmith! Lara has worn several hats in the dance team world as a coach, an executive board member of Washington’s Coaches’ Association, an event manager for Washington’s State Championships, and is currently one of NDCA’s Outreach Directors. Lara is a multi-talented individual who has taught high school English for many years, and is now the college and career counselor at her school.

How/Why did you become involved with the WSDDCA (WA State Dance Drill Coaches’ Assoc)?

I got involved in WSDDCA because another coach I highly respected (Danise Ackelson) said, "you should do this!" back in 2004. If it had not been for her, I probably would not have had the courage to get involved. I have served on the Executive Board in various positions (secretary, president, etc.) at different times, and am currently serving as Co-Executive Director with Heather Wong. In our state, we have two Exec Directors who are non-voting members of the Board; we are paid by our coaches’ association to support coaches, which provides long term stability and continuity. Coaches are already busy enough without having to do things like plan/organize an entire coaches conference!

Describe your new position as the NDCA Outreach Co-Director.

I am working on developing relationships with existing state associations, and supporting people who want to start state associations. I have been shocked to learn how few states actually have a state association that's focused on supporting and educating coaches.

What part do you think activity associations play in the success of dance team?

Speaking from my experience in Oregon and Washington, I believe these associations provide support and education for coaches, advocate for dance teams with the state athletic organization, and provide a forum for coaches to connect with each other so they can be more effective. Our association is coach/student centered and not motivated by profit. I am not against private companies in the dance arena, but activity associations are focused solely on kids and helping them grow and develop through dance. Our legacy should be young people who positively influence the lives of others.

Why should a state association join the NDCA?

By joining NDCA, state associations can open up lines of communication with the national organization, and with other states. I have learned so much from talking with people in the dance community from other states! I love learning how people do things differently around the country, and borrow ideas to improve what we do in Washington. We have so much to learn from each other.

What are some of the unanticipated challenges you've faced as the Washington State Event Manager the last couple of years?

I think the hardest part is managing competing interests so that everyone at the event can have a great experience. Our challenges have been pretty minor--the key is educating people about the rules, and being proactive - we have worked hard to get information out to teams and fans ahead of time so they know exactly what to expect. We are fortunate to be able to work with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association who bring a lot of staff to our event; they really know what they are doing and are a pleasure to work with.

What "spirit animal" do you most associate yourself with and why?

I love dogs, especially labs, because they are almost always happy and live in the moment. But, when I asked my husband, he said, "you're a total cat." I am definitely an introvert and enjoy time alone, which explains why reading, gardening, and hiking are three of my favorite pastimes. Most of the time, I prefer quiet. My cats, dogs, and I all run for cover when my husband starts yelling at the TV during sporting events!

Coaching Job Opportunity - El Modena High School, Orange County, California

El Modena High School is known for their creative school spirit and we look forward to embracing a Pom coach that would develop our young program. The program has massive support from both the athletic department and the booster club. Compensation is competitive and the program is year round.

If you are a committed individual that loves both the sideline aspect of spirit dance and is interested in taking the team to competitions, we would love to hear from you!

Please send resume to Deborah Najm, El Modena Cheer Booster President,

If you need to follow up, my cell is 949-244-8020.

Deborah Najm
El Modena Cheer Booster President


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