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Andrea Feltz & Mila O’Brien

The coaches of Millard North share their journey with this team that has been climbing the ranks at UDA Nationals!  They share how they’ve gotten successful results, built a support system, and how they perfect routines.  

Planning their dance year:  “We usually get our choreography in August or September.  We are busy with football season right during that time so we really have our game dances be our focus and then starting usually right around now September and October we really start to look at the comp routines, drilling those dances.  One thing I have learned over the years is we take a very nice break in the summertime.  A lot of teams work all through the summer and  all through the spring, but just as a coach and a mom and a teacher, all the stuff that we have going on, I need the break and Mila needs a break and the girls need the break. And  a lot of them are highly involved with their studios and so  we kind of are the priority during our season and then we kind of let them sit back and go do their thing during their studio season.  We give them all of pretty much April, May, June and then July we start.  We’ll have a few practices before camp and then we go to camp.   We don’t bring a home routine to camp.  We used to do that, but it’s too stressful.   A lot of times we do our comp dances at basketball games. We used to worry that the crowd would get bored but they love our competition dances so much  that they’re bummed if we do a game dance. The girls will wear their costumes and the parents love it.”  

Building dance team community:  “I think the best thing that’s happened to the dance team world in Omaha is the Nebraska State Dance Competition.  I think we have really worked hard to build a positive dance team culture in the metro.  A lot of the dance team coaches are friends, we get along great, we’re all helpful to each other.  When it comes to competing, we’re all competitive and we all want to win, but i will say that we definitely communicate. We started this big send-off for all the teams that go to nationals and we use it as a fundraiser.  We pick a  charity here in the metro  and then it’s free will donation to come and watch all these teams do their nationals routines one last time before we go to nationals and then we donate the money.”   

Dealing with competition:  “They know people are coming out, they want to take those just as badly as we do and they want to win just as badly as we do and they’re putting in the hard work just like we are and everybody’s working to win and so the girls know that and we know that as coaches. We tell them that before going into this year, we knew we had a lot of strong competition and our dances had to be perfect at state to win and we told them the sun will still rise today and we will all be fine and we will all wake up and it will just be fine.   The thing that we want is for everybody to get better and better,  right now that’s our goal is that the whole state of Nebraska is amazing.” 

Delegating responsibilities to parents:  “They do so much.  If it was not  for them, we would never ever be this successful. The amount of time that they put in helping with fundraising and organizing travel.   That’s one thing I guess I should say to coaches (delegate.)   I’m sure there’s a parent that would be willing to help you with things like medical release forms. Every year I have a parent who is in charge of all the medical release forms for all the competitions. She collects them all from the parents, she puts them in an envelope,  she hands them to me and at the day of the competition and they’re all ready to go.   It takes something off my plate. I used to be scrambling and i’m not always super organized and so they do a lot of the registration.  For nationals they arrange all of our flights, all of our hotel, the senior parents usually kind of work together and then they delegate amongst themselves.  So just so the administrative stuff you can give to a parent.  Costume designing and stuff we work with them, but they do the communication piece, they help with the measuring.   Andrea and i kind of say what our idea is and then they take it from there.  Arranging travel for our choreographers, I tell them when and where and what not and then they take care of it.”  

Practice:  “So every practice  we have the seniors in front and they lead the warm-up  and then we always have drills that we do at the beginning, jump drills, and after we stretch we do tons and tons of jump drills and we jump every, every, every single practice.  If you want those jumps to be good they have to jump a lot. I think that then translates into a better end of the routine and we have things while they’re doing the jump drills to make sure that they’re keeping their heart rate up.  When it’s not their turn to jump they’ll be marking their routine.  We only jump to the competition music so by the end of the year we have listened to that music 704 thousand times.  We are very, very strict about them knowing their music, and they should know that music.   We actually don’t practice as much as maybe some teams practice.  We practice on Monday mornings  for about an hour and a half and then we practice Thursdays after school for about an hour and a half and then Friday mornings for about an hour and a half and then we practice on Sundays  two and a half hours and we don’t start Sunday practices until mid-October.”

Cleaning routines:  “We do a lot of different things.   We have them get into columns and dance right behind  each other and  we get into groups and make them do dances in small groups and  their teammates give them corrections and we just go through every every single count, break it down every single count a lot.   We use google classroom a lot.  They can pull up their google classroom and the videos are on there. They can write comments. We’ll send screenshots.  We tell them focus on yourself.  It’s easy just to watch and try to find all your friends’ mistakes, but you need to watch yourself and pick out your mistakes.  You can have a girl who is maybe the best turner and so whenever the music comes on you they are doing the turns every time,  and then you have the girl who’s maybe not your strongest turner, but she’s not taking that time to because it’s hard to turn, because it’s hard for her, or she doesn’t want me to see her fall out of them, but  what we have been trying to tell the girls is whatever is your weakest thing every time that music comes on you need to be holding yourself accountable and drilling that.”  

What they’ve learned:   “I think just as you get older and you learn  that you’re doing what’s best for the team, and you cannot listen to parents because they’re oftentimes doing  what is best for their daughter,  and not in a bad way.  You’re a parent, I’m a parent, and so I get it and I understand it, but a lot of times you just need to focus on the fact that you’re the coach and you’re doing what’s best for the entire team and try not to please everybody.  You won’t.  You’re just building  a positive culture within your team.  I think one thing that maybe I do more now is a lot of hugging the girls. They love it and they do fantastic and I don’t think I did that as much. They all want that attention.”