November 1st, 2010
Mercy Dance Team Turning Into Competitor
Veteran Aschbacher in her first year as varsity coach
When Mercy High School began their dance program in 1999, no one knew what the future would hold.
With humble beginnings, the team practiced in classrooms and hallways of the school in their socks on carpeted floors. But the team's hard work and dedication to the sport certainly did not go unnoticed.
Eleven years later, in the school’s new Fegenbush location, the team now has their own practice facility equipped with floated marley floors, full mirrors, ballet bars and their own locker room. With the addition of a JV team in 2005, the program has grown to a total of 28 girls that stay busy all year long. From camps and competitions, to games and special performances, the season lasts a full year, with activities add appearnces up to five days a week.
With tryouts in June, the season kicks off in the summer, as they practice 3-4 times per week – including ballet technique classes, choreography and cross training conditioning. But it’s not all work and no play with this group. Mercy graduate and Head Coach Greta Aschbacher, says “the girls prefer to create crowd pleasing, upbeat routines which makes practice a LOT of fun!”
Aschbacher is a former Mercy dancer and has been with the program for five years. She began coaching the JV team in 2006 and is currently in her first year as head coach of the varsity team. Her passion for dance began as a teenager when she joined Mercy’s team and she has only learned to love and appreciate the sport more as a coach.
“Coaching requires practice in delayed gratification”, said Aschbacher. “I love the moments when a dancer hits a triple pirouette…it requires a lot of consistency and repetition, but in the end it’s all worth it.”
And the practice has paid off for these Mercy Jaguars. With many members of the team having little or no previous dance experience before coming to Mercy, the team’s talents have come a long way. This year they attended NDA camp in Louisville, Ky., where they received awards for “Most Improved Technique” and “Innovative Choreography.”
After camp, their next event was a halftime performance at the St. Xavier vs. Trinity football game, where they entertained a crowd of over 30,000 fans at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. They will compete at the Floyd Central Dance Championship in November, and round out their competition season in January at the AmeriDance Dance Classic in Cincinnati, OH.
With evolving skills and a busy schedule, the team always stays grounded in their roots. Before every performance, whether it’s at a game, or minutes before competing, the girls huddle up in a circle, pray a "Hail Mary" and offer words of encouragement to everyone.
Their bond goes beyond the performance floor, as their community involvement can be seen year round. They host a JR JAG Dance Clinic each year, which gives kids of all ages the opportunity to tour Mercy's campus, dance with the team, and even perform at a basketball game. They also teach a dance class through Metro Parks for physically and mentally disabled children, and participate in the Down Syndrome of Louisville Buddy Walk.
So what’s next for this busy bunch of girls?
“This program has the potential and resources to be a strong, competitive team”, said Aschbacher. “However, even when we grow to take on new challenges, I see Mercy’s dance team always being more focused on fun."
And with team goals such as, “have the biggest smiles ever," it seems that they are right on track to be a successful and fun team for many years to come.
Laura Ogburn is the cheer/dance correspondent for LouisvilleCatholicSports.com.