She Built It Founder's First Leap
When I was 17, I was accepted to Southwest Missouri State and I knew one thing…I wanted to be on the Dance Team and have a scholarship for dance. From the time I was little, I danced and tumbled all over the house. I LOVED doing it and it made me happy. I grew up in Kimberling City, a small town of only 1000 people, but a former Radio City Rockette and her daughter lived there and taught dance to children. I was lucky to be taught by some of the best. My high school did “not” have a dance team, so I became a cheerleader…and grew up somewhat of a tomboy - playing sports with the boys. I played every sport I possibly could - volleyball, softball, and golf, even “powder puff” football as quarterback, all with pink fingernails.
Tryout day for the SMSU dance team came - I was excited and nervous but also determined, and I was not going to be afraid to try. There were about 200 girls at the tryout, many from large high schools throughout Missouri that had dance teams. I danced through the tryouts…made the cut from 200 to 50…. and then the cut to 25. I was elated to have made it that far…. and still nervous about being one of the 20 chosen for the team.
Sadly, I did not make the final cut. I was devastated. This was a big blow for my 17-year-old self. At school I was going to room with two girls my freshman year, one who had made the dance team. I was not sure how I would feel to be roommates with someone that was going to live my 17-year-old dream. After tryouts, I sat on the couch and did nothing…. every day for weeks. This was not like me. At the time I wasn’t sure how to turn myself around. Just about the time my parents were starting to worry, thankfully, someone out there knew how much I loved to dance. One of my dance instructors called my mom and said they were having auditions for an actress to dance, sing and act in a saloon show at Silver Dollar City, a theme park in nearby Branson. She suggested I try out - as a summer job between graduating from my senior year of high school and starting college. I had already suffered one blow…was I ready to put myself out there again for another tryout? What if I didn’t get chosen again? After a few days of contemplating the fear I decided I was ready and off to another tryout I went. This time, I was chosen. I danced and sang all summer long and loved it.
After the summer break I returned to Springfield to start college. I was in the best shape of my life after dancing all summer. If you have heard of the movie “Bring It On”…I could have written it; I should have because I lived it. Then, the completely unexpected happened. One of my roommates called me and said, “You are never going to believe this…one of the girls on the dance team broke her leg and they are having tryouts to add “one” girl to the team.” I remember that call to this day. Lying in my bed staring at the celling. I thought about the major blow the first time and having it softened by the summer show opportunity. The college dance team is what I really wanted. Should I try out again in front of the same people who knew I didn’t make it the first time? What if I didn’t make it again? My mom said one thing to me that I’ll never forget. She said, “If you don’t try out, will you always regret it?” I knew the answer was yes. So I did…and I ended up being the “one” girl who was chosen.
A year later, our dance team led the Rose Parade in Pasadena and we placed at the NCAA national dance championship. To this day I cherish the incredible lesson that I experienced. I had picked myself up from not making the team the first time, and overcome the fear of trying out again. I also learned that if you fail…. sometimes you end up in an even better position than if you had won the first time. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had made my first leap.