Former Bearcat Steppers coach Darbi Fuhrman recently left her position, opening up a spot just before the team headed to Universal Dance Association Nationals in Orlando, Florida, Jan. 17. Kiersten Hill, a Stepper alumna, volunteered to help the team in order to prepare for the competition.
Hill graduated last spring but is still attending Northwest to earn her master's degree. A few women on the team reached out to her and asked if she would be willing to help the team out.
Hill said she was there to lend a helping hand. She was there for choreography changes, formation cleaning and anything that she could do to make sure the Steppers looked competition ready.
“It was pretty much me being there and saying ‘Whatever you guys need from me today, that’s what we’ll do,’” Hill said.
Hill was a Stepper for all four years she attended Northwest and competed in Nationals all four years. She said being on the other side of the competition was eye-opening.
“It was really different than when I was dancing; I didn’t realize how much stuff had to be handled before we went,” Hill said.
Hill danced with some of the women on the team, since she just graduated last semester. The four captains, senior Sarah Amos, senior Alyson Dye, junior Andie Dain and junior Madison Skeen, were the ones who reached out to Hill and asked her to come back.
Hill said she wasn’t sure how the Steppers were going to treat her, whether she was going to be more of a coaching figure or just a friend there to help.
“As I was going in there, I said they just need to be communicating with me through everything. They were so respectful; they just listened to what I said,” Hill said. “I would talk to the captains and ask if this is what they wanted too, and then we’d just take it from there.”
Director of Athletics Andy Peterson also helped the team out to make sure it was getting what it needed.
Peterson said transitioning was really difficult for everyone when Fuhrman departed middle of the season.
“It really put everyone in a tough spot, especially the girls. The freshmen only got a coach for half a season. The sophomores had her for a year. The juniors have to adjust to new leadership for their senior year. It was just really difficult,” Peterson said.
Peterson and Jason Sack, head cheerleading coach, did all the paperwork for the Steppers so Hill could just focus on the dancing aspect.
Peterson said Hill was there to help make sure the team could have an outsider perspective.
“She was an extra set of eyes for the team. You can only do so much from watching in the mirror, especially when you’re focused on yourself; you can’t really help the whole team,” Peterson said. “She was a great resource for providing quick feedback in the moment.”
Peterson and the other members of the athletic board are meeting later this week to discuss filling the coaching position. They are deciding what they think should be done with the entire spirit program.
Originally the program had one head coach for cheer and one head coach for dance. They are talking about whether or not they should make a head coach that oversees both and smaller positions for the individual teams or if they should just keep it the same.
Peterson said it’s difficult to find someone for a town this size, especially when the job isn’t high paying.
“They do this because they want to give back. Coaches help because they love the sport,” Peterson said.