Tasha Ruble shares her experience on many levels: talented dancer and performer, coach at the Big 12 powerhouse, the University of Kansas, and dance team competition judge. She’ll share tips on how to up your team’s game-day experience, how to prepare for and succeed at national competitions, and how to utilize male dance team members effectively. She also has some great advice for coaches just starting out, and for ones that may be feeling a little burnout.
Dividing up the workload: “As far as football games we all had to be present there, but there’s so many basketball games as far as like women’s and men’s basketball games so we did like a rotation. They wouldn’t do every single game because they only allowed 10 on the floor and when I coached we had a team of 20. So you can divide into groups so they don’t get burned out.”
Utilizing a break to work on competition: “We would figure out who our choreographer was going to be and we would have them come in sometime during the football season and they’d be there for a weekend and we’d learn it and then we would just kind of maybe run it at practices just so you remember, but the way we prepped for competition was we would always do nationals it would always fall after Christmas break so on Christmas break we would have a two week all day that you could not miss or else you were out.” The beauty of this was that finals were over, and campus was dead. There were no other distractions. And it was a great team builder.
Coaching the first male team member on a major college team: “It was an interesting experience and he is a great, great guy. He actually is an assistant coach at KU and he has been for a really long time like since he danced there. He tried out and made the team and it was a learning experience. It was just interesting that there there was a guy that had come and tried out and he kind of like blazed the trail. The hard part was finding the balance because the team was really supportive, all the girls rallied around him and everything but it was hard because a lot of the attention or media attention went to him. He was frustrated with that too because he didn’t necessarily want himself to be the focus, all he wanted to do was blend in and be with everybody and be part of a team and that’s what we tried to focus on was being positive, let’s just stay as a team, and and move forward.
The most challenging part of coaching: “I think with my personality the hardest thing is finding the balance of being coach, obviously you grow to care about all of them, and kind of have somewhat of a friendship with them, so that’s hard when you have to be the coach and make decisions that are not favorable. In a way it’s like they’re your kids, everyone makes mistakes, and so that was hard, that was the most challenging, the discipline part.”
Cleaning routines: “I break the routine into sections and then we literally go through every single count and where you’re supposed to be, where your placement is and then you just add on and then you would start at the beginning and we do it in sections and then we would perform it in sections and then we would add on and then sometimes we would not start at the beginning we’d start in the middle. I would have the kids come out too, I would have like half of them stay in and half come out and everybody’s eyes were on somebody. And basically the music would go off and they would go to their person and they just talked over with their person. That whole thing would be positive because they could tell them, ‘You were killing it on that part, I loved it!'”
Her sweetest victory: “I think my sweetest victory is the relationships i made and the way that I affected the dancers. I know there’s a lot of coaches that probably are u like I am the coach, you are the team member, but I maybe overstepped that a little bit, but I still have those people in my life today, and it’s years after.”
Advice for coaches in a rut: “I think that there are those ups and downs with coaching. I knew i loved what i did and I didn’t want to stop doing it, but I knew that in my life, where I was, it was time for me because I had my own kids and it takes a lot of time and devotion to coach. Just reevaluate where you are. Over my years being a coach, I had a lot of ups and downs where i was like, ‘Why am i doing this?’ but then right around the corner there would be a really sweet moment. It’s just like life. Ups and downs, ups and downs, and just hang on, it’ll get better.”
What she says over and over as a judge: “I find myself talking about spacing a lot, but it’s important because as a judge when you’re back you can see any little tiny thing like that. Technique like in turns, your supporting, and then also just dancing. You’re creating a story not just doing the moves, but performing the piece.”
“I wish people would think more about what works for them and expressing that rather than following a trend so much. I feel like a lot of times when I’m judging a competition, I feel like I’m longing to see something different.”
How to find balance: “Just trying to stay positive and wake up every morning and if you’re in a bad mood try to reflect and try to have gratitude and find something to be happy about. There’s always something to be grateful for. Your attitude I think is a huge part of it and you do have control over that.”
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