Hollie Williams grew up in and graduated from Scottsbluff, and her dancing background stopped at high school drill team. So it was only natural she would become the new head coach of the Gering High School Poms dance team.
Maybe not so much, Williams decided.
“It sounds silly, because you could name a million other people that could dance and coach in circles around me,” she said.
But then Beth Maser, the previous Poms coach, approached her, saying she wanted to pass on the baton but wasn’t ready until she found someone she deemed would do the coaching position justice. Apparently, Maser thought Williams would.
Williams said she thinks the reason Maser reached out to her was because of Williams’ passion for the children in the district.
“I think she saw my passion for our youth in Gering,” Williams, who is also a fifth grade teacher at Northfield Elementary, said. “She saw there was an investment, and it’s where my children go to school. And she saw I had younger girls involved in our community.”
At first, being a dance coach wasn’t even on Williams’ radar. When Maser approached her, she still wasn’t sure she would have the time for it with four very young children under her roof. But then she prayed about it.
“God got a hold of my heart through FCA,” she said. “He showed me the influence of what coaches can do with athletes…it felt like a tug at my heart.”
She started shadowing Maser last school year to get a better understanding of what to expect and what would be expected of her if she were to take the position. Despite her lack of background in dance, she did have a background of being a teacher and encourager, and that’s what she ended up bringing to the team when she accepted the job back in the spring.
Williams said she has made connections with choreographers to help come up with routines and use different dance styles, and her dancers would attend camps to get professionally trained. She sees her job as leading the team, helping them come up with new ideas to bring school spirit to the community and educating them about life.
“We’ve done teambuilding exercises aside from just the dance concept. That’s something that is my goal,” she said. “It’s not just about dance; it’s about life skills and commitment and building each other up. Here’s what a team does, looks like, sounds like.”
Her approach to the Poms dance team seems to be going over well so far. Williams said her dancers have worked well with her and the new ideas she has been bringing forward. Even Gering High School’s athletic director Glen Koski liked what he has been seeing.
“Just watching them, their routines—they’ve done excellent job of mixing it up,” he said. “One halftime they did a dance off and brought several people out of stadium onto the field. It was an awesome thing for them to do.”
Williams said her dancers have a goal to bring spirit to their school, and with their football season wrapping up, they are looking forward to basketball season and the state competition.
“They said a big goal was to raise student spirit in high school. They wanted people to be proud of them,” she said. “They want people to come to the games. They got a little taste last year at the state competition. This year they want to go down there and take it all.”
Williams said that while she loves their enthusiasm, her main goal remains using her platform as a coach to influence them to be good citizens of their community.
“I want to impact young lives for a bigger purpose,” she said. “It’s not just about dance. I think any platform can be used to teach kids there is a bigger reason for everything we do… I want to build a team that someday I would be proud to have my girls a part of, and other parents would be proud to see their girls or boys working hard at.”
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