News for faculty and staff

Contact | Past Issues

Week of July 19, 2010

Staff Spotlight

Dance Team coach says team prepares students for life

The coach of the U-M Dance Team says being a part of the group is about more than learning dance moves.

“For me, dancing allows you to be artistic, athletic and inspirational. With the U of M Dance Team, it also allows us to support this outstanding university,” says Valerie Stead Potsos, who also performed on the team as a student in the early 1990s.

Photo by Wally Russell Photography.

A Grand Blanc native, Potsos started dancing at age 3 and was teaching by age 14. “Some of my best college memories are from when I was on the dance team here,” she says. Potsos graduated from U-M in 1993, then took graduate classes at Michigan State University. After teaching at Royal Oak Kimball High School, she returned to the Department of Athletics to coach the U-M team in 2001.

The team, which performs at halftime at home football and basketball games, and at several other sporting events, has placed in the top 10 for the past decade at the Universal Dance Association’s College Nationals in Division IA in Orlando, Fla. “The students in our program spend just as much time in practices and performances as many of the athletes on this campus. They take it very seriously and our fans recognize that,” Potsos says.

“Being a part of the Dance Team is about leadership, commitment, dedication, selflessness and striving for a common goal. These are all skills that are essential no matter what career path you take someday,” she says.

Besides four practices each week, team members attend a team-created public relations seminar. “I always instill in my students that there is much more to dance than learning the physical skills,” Potsos says. “When our team signs a motivational poster for a math teacher in Paw Paw, Mich., or for a sick grandparent in Florida, we know we are making a difference. When we visit Food Gatherers to volunteer our time or at Mott Children’s Hospital, we know that as ambassadors of this university that we are doing our job.”

Potsos says the most satisfying part about leading the Dance Team is watching students become well rounded and connect with the community. “When the freshmen can plan the team calendars and other members can help select nationals costumes and another member coordinates volunteer activities, our students are learning to become future leaders. That’s what Michigan is all about,” she says.

Potsos said she’s proud of the relationship the Dance Team has formed with the Michigan Marching Band, adding that this football season her team will perform with the band at two halftime shows. “We also connect with the cheerleaders and work together to create a positive spirit atmosphere,” she says.

She also heads dance classes for the School of Kinesiology UMove Fitness program that have ranged from Hip-Hop to Cardio Blast and more. “The best part is helping people develop healthy habits and get excited about exercise,” she says.

Potsos owns Dancer’s Edge studio in Dexter, where she lives with husband Pete and sons Petey, 13, and Jack, 6. In addition, she writes for publications including Dance Studio Life, In Motion and Dance Spirit, and runs every other day.


The weekly Spotlight features staff members at the university. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at urecord@umich.edu.

 

STAFF SPOTLIGHT

Valerie Stead Potsos, U-M Dance Team coach, Department of Athletics; and UMove instructor, School of Kinesiology, on the value of participation: “Being a part of the Dance Team is about leadership, commitment, dedication, selflessness and striving for a common goal. These are all skills that are essential no matter what career path you take someday.”

EVENTS

View Events
Submit Events