By, Maria Thomas & Katherine Heneghan, Managing Editor & Web Editor
This year, the Jasper Dancers have been joined by two new coaches — head coach Lizz Henrich and assistant coach Taylor Post.
Head Coach Henrich and Assistant Coach Post are working in place of the previous Jasper Dancers’ coach, Katilyn Marquette, who left at the end of last year.
The coaches have a long history together, dating back to their own college years when they danced together at Kent State University. While on the team together, Henrich and Post were co-captains.
The friendship Henrich and Post share emulates the chemistry these coaches hope to foster among the Jasper Dancers.
“It was actually a lifelong dream for [us] to coach a collegiate team together,” Henrich said. “Some of the best memories and friendships were made on our college dance team and we hope they all have the same experience.”
In addition to this common collegiate experience, Henrich and Post both have exposure to dancing at the professional level.
Henrich has choreographed in the MLB for the Cleveland Indians Dancers, while Post herself has danced in the NFL for the New York Jets. Furthermore, both Henrich and Post currently dance and choreograph for a New York City-based studio, DanceWorks.
With new coaches come new team goals, and new strategies for achieving those goals.
“Our top priority is coaching the team to be the best performers and spirit raisers at men’s and women’s basketball games, and pushing the team to excel at NDA Collegiate Nationals,” Heinrich said.
Team Captain Imi Donovan shares equally high hopes for the upcoming season and feels the new coaches will be a necessary piece in achieving these goals.
“My number one hope for this season is to go back to Nationals and win again. If not, at least place in the top half of finals. While I don’t want to get too confident and remember that it’s about doing your best, not about what place or award you get, I still really want to win,” Donovan said.
And in the process of building a strong and cohesive team, Coach Heinrich believes organization will be an indispensable tool.
“There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into coaching a collegiate dance team. It’s scheduling, choreographing, working with the team members who hold e-board positions, as well as always being a listening ear and a mentor figure to the team members,” said Heinrich.
Donovan expressed how critical having two coaches has been recently, stressing the importance of cohesive leadership.
“It’s definitely a different dynamic having not only a new coach but two new coaches especially. I think in the past our coach would have to go out of her way to reach out to colleagues and friends for help with choreography, cleaning dances, special training, even paying specialized coaching services to come in and help out just so she had another set of eyes looking at our dances. Now having two coaches, while all of those extra helpers are still needed, it is easier to have someone else helping you right then in there at practice,” Donovan said.
In the first few weeks, Heinrich and Post focused heavily on learning and understanding the team.
“We are very strategic when it comes to coaching. Our first few weeks on the job, it was about learning the team’s skill level and assessing where we needed to focus to start. We definitely push both individually and as a team-we know the potential they have and we know they will all achieve greatness. Confidence is a big focus for us this season. We believe encouragement and positive reinforcement goes a long way!” Post said.
The future is bright for Heinrich and Post, coaches who share a strong mentality heading into the new season both as competitive dancers and as an enthusiastic presence at men’s and women’s basketball games.
“We are really looking forward to watching each dancer reach new heights and grow both in and out of dance. As the new coaches we are taking this year to learn how MC operates, teach our dancers valuable skills, and continue to elevate the program both on the court and the nationals stage,” Heinrich said.