Five Tips for Being a Dance Dad of a Competitive Dancer

Five Tips for Being a Dance Dad of a Competitive Dancer

Dance

The smell of hairspray fills the hotel room as I sit here planning what to do between dances. Little Dude is already griping about having to go, and it’s going to be a long day. Solos at 7:30am but the group dances aren’t until 3pm. That’s a long time to hear “Tutus and Tennis Shoes” more than 3 times. We grab the big black box that contains all of the outfits and accessories and makeup for the day, load up the car, and hit the road. Dance competition days can be the longest days of your life.

I am a dance dad. Little Girl has been in dance for going on 4 years now (shout out to Studio 413). She started out taking normal classes and doing your typical recitals. It then progressed into competitive dance, hip hop, lyrical, and starting this past season, a solo performance. She has to get it from my wife who can move to the music. She sure doesn’t get it from me. I can play guitar, drums, piano, almost any instrument you put in front of me. But I cannot dance. Just ask my junior prom date.

This is one excited girl right here.

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LG loves it though. It’s her thing, her passion, so three weekends each spring we hit the road for various dance competitions. Charlotte, Roanoke, Knoxville. We head all over the three states to spend 10+ hours, hoping to watch the dancers from Little Girl’s studio take home the top honors. Over the last few years I’ve learned a lot of little tricks to being a dance dad. So today, I share with you my top five tips for being a dance dad. Let’s get started!

Dance Dad Tip #1: The High Ponytail

I’m bald. I have been for quite some time. So hair isn’t exactly my thing. I can sculpt a beard, but I don’t know anything about having long hair. The high ponytail is a standard hair look for dance practices and recital rehearsals. If you learn any hairstyle for your dancing queen, it should be this. Trust me on this one. It will be known if you do it incorrectly. I’ve never had another dance parent point it out, but my daughter is happy to do so very quickly when I do it wrong. Check the video below for a quick how-to.

 

Dance Dad Tip #2: Snack Packs

A dance competition is a terrible place to get hungry. The ones we have been to allow food in the auditoriums, which is good. But if you don’t bring your own, be prepared to shell out some serious cash to keep your hunger down. I once spent $15 on a nacho and cheese, plain hotdog, and bottle of water. You’re already spending enough just to go to competitions, so don’t let them hit you with the snack bar too. Save the money for photos and videos.

We take an insulated lunch box to every competition. We keep sweet snacks, cracker packs, fruits, nuts, and bottled water. Most of the time, they won’t have a problem with you bringing it in. And if they do, you just say it’s for the dancer and there are no more questions asked. So save that dough for something else. Pack some snacks. If nothing else, it keeps you from losing the perfect viewing seat because you just had to have a pretzel.

 

Dance Dad Tip #3: Learn Your Makeup Colors

Makeup Pallet

The image above is intimidating if you don’t know your makeup. Even though I spent my years as a poser goth and emo kid, I don’t know much outside of the color black. Like, rose and red are two different colors. Salmon and pink are two different colors. At our dance studio (shout out to Studio 413) there are often specific brands and colors that are to be used for dance competitions. Make no mistake. Brands really can have different shades of the exact same color name. Red from L’OrĂ©al may be a slightly different shade than red from NYX.

If it is at all possible, get exactly what is requested by dance instructors. If you can’t find it at your local Ulta, you can almost always find it online and have it arrive before competition time. Also, YouTube can be your best friend when it comes to the best ways to apply different types of makeup. Get to know the different brushes, and always remember that if you don’t know what foundation to use, Cosmo has you covered.

 

Dance Dad Tip #4: Learn the Routines

Remember up top when I said that I can’t dance? Well, that’s still true, but I always try to learn parts of Little Girl’s routines. As the one that is home the most, it’s up to me to make sure she practices and help her remember when she forgets moves. Three dances for one competition create a lot of steps to have to learn. So I try to learn parts of it too. And LG loves it.

She will often create dances for me and her and tune it to some ridiculous pop song. Like I said, she loves to dance. It’s her thing. So when we are goofing off while she practices her dances, I have her teach me the steps. It helps her to remember and helps me to know what she is doing. So don’t be afraid to dance. Learn the steps, do the routines, and then YOU can be the parent in the audience that does the routine in your chair while your child is on stage. Hey, at least it helps to pass the time.

 

Dance Dad Tip #5: Remember the Good Old Days

Very proud of my baby girl today.

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The days are long and tiring. The music can be repetitive, and it’s easy to become annoyed on such long days. The kids who are dancing and the siblings that come to support know this as well. But the most important thing to remember is that these days don’t last forever. And I’m not just talking about the time in between leaving the hotel and getting back to sleep. Kids grow up so fast it’s insane. Little League turns into varsity. Dance turns into cheerleading, color guard, career.

These are days that make memories of a lifetime. Years from now you won’t remember how long you spent at that competition, but your dancer will remember you being there. You’re not going to remember how much you paid for food, but your dancer will remember how many times she heard you say “I’m proud of you.” Never will you think about the miles you put on your car, but often she will think of the trophies, and the friends, and the music.

And there you have it. Based on experience, my top five tips for being a dance dad to a competitive dancer. What do you think? Are you a dance dad? What tips would you give? Leave your comments below!

In it for the Long Ball: Little League Baseball 2017

In it for the Long Ball: Little League Baseball 2017

Home Plate

Little League baseball season is a special time of year. The smell of freshly cut grass, brick dust, and line chalk bring a nice aroma to the nose. The sounds of the PA system crackling to life for the first playing of the National Anthem and the greatest words “PLAY BALL!”. The clink of bats making contact and the excitement as the games begin makes Little League baseball season all the more worth it.

This year was our third year with Little Dude playing baseball. One year in coaches pitch and two years in the 9-12 division. He has been an All-Star player twice and even played in an inter-league game this season. In the spring, we eat, breathe, and sleep baseball. Well, baseball and dance but dance is a post for another day. This is about baseball.

Love of the Game

I have long loved the game of baseball. The Atlanta Braves, South Carolina Gamecocks, Capital City bombers, and of course, the Dispatch News Little League team of 1991 (the year I played). I have experience baseball in all of its glorious forms. Going to games, watching on TV, watching from the parking lot, listening on the radio. I have seen all from Little League baseball to the MLB and everything in between. Now, I get to make sure my son does the same.

I took Little Dude to his first baseball game 3 years ago. We went to see the Bristol Pirates, the closest minor league team we have. This was after his first season in Little League Baseball. The thrill he showed on his face was absolutely priceless. We got a foul ball, he got to meet some players and even run the bases. He has also spent two summers now doing a week-long camp with the Lexington County Blowfish in South Carolina. We still have to hit a college level game and an MLB game to complete the series. We go often to root on our town Lebanon High School Pioneers.

Life Lessons

But there is more to Little League Baseball than just watching Little Dude go out there and slug it out. We get to watch him, and a lot of other kids, grow as friends, as teammates, and as young men. We live in a very rural area. A in, our town had a population of less than 3500 as of 2014. The kids who play sports in their younger years mostly go to school together and grow up together, and we get to know them and their families over the years.

Watching them transform in front of us is an amazing experience. I have volunteered with all of Little Dude’s teams and helped where I can. These young boys have had some amazing coaches who love the game and love the kids they are mentors to. Little Dude has been blessed with amazing coaches who teach the game well, but teach the important lessons of baseball even more. Persistence, determination, camaraderie, and sportsmanship. Four important qualities of a good gentlemen can be taught through baseball, and other sports too.

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Coaches deserve endless thanks. They work tirelessly and voluntarily to be not just a coach of the game, but a mentor of good values. The coaches lay aside their time that could be spent doing countless other things to be with other children. They endure the hardship of tough parents and tough team losses. They organize and adapt and press on when things get tough. Little League baseball coaches are the unsung heroes of the spring. ‘

2017 Little League Baseball Season Wrap-up

Our 2017 Little League baseball season was absolutely phenomenal. Little Dude’s first time working the infield mostly at second base. He learned a lot about fielding and had several run saving and inning saving plays. His batting suffered a bit this season, mainly due to lack of practice in the off-season. However, he ended his season with a bullet of a double to left field in his final All-Star game. He would score on the following play, and return to score from first in his next AB after being hit by a pitch.

What I’ve enjoyed the most is watching him grow as a leader, and as a good sport. Losing is tough. And in Little League baseball, those losses can be brutal at times. He learned to not be quick to blame others for the loss. He learned how to help keep his teammates lifted despite the odds against them. Little Dude has learned that as he gets older in the league, he is going to be looked at by his younger teammates on how to act. They will look for guidance and leadership from their peers, and he wants to be that leader.

The off-season has now approached us and we look to a summer of growth. Little Dude has decided to join a local baseball academy to work on his form throughout the summer and fall. Pitching, batting, fielding. He wants to return next year as “the man” on the field. Undoubtedly, we will once again watch as he transitions not just as a player, but as a leader. After all, he’s going to be a big middle school kid this coming fall. We will look forward to seeing the other kids and how much they’ve progressed.

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I’ll wait again for the smell of grass, the dust of chalk and bricks, and those oh so sweet words of “PLAY BALL” next spring. The PA system will lay silent until then. The flag will fly despite the lack of a crowd singing to it. And Little League baseball will be the countdown in our minds.

Until next season fellas

Last photo of the 2017 #LittleLeague baseball season. Until next year fellas.

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