It’s late on Friday night. Weymouth Dance Team Coach Ms. Roberts has just deleted a video she needed for a virtual dance team show she was preparing for her team to be watched at 3 pm the next day. After a few tears, she gets back to work and doesn’t rest until the video is done around 2:30 pm, 30 minutes before show time.
This year, as we all know, has been a different year in lots of ways. The yearly dance team show to finish the year was cancelled along with every other school event. It’s always been a special show for the team because it is not a competition, it is always a celebration. A thank you to the girls, especially the seniors who have led the team. A way to say goodbye with tears and laughter.
I remember being at the dance team show last year, my daughters first year on the team and tearing up in the audience as Ms. Roberts spoke about each one of the seniors. She spoke of their character, their work ethic, and she paused to feel the moment, first a tear from her eyes, then a tear from the seniors and pretty soon everyone was a little choked up. I remember thinking when my daughter is a senior I will have to listen to the show from the parking lot. I’d be a weeping mess.
Ms. Roberts expects a lot from her dance team. She holds them to a very high standard. She’s built a very respected program. Molding our girls, and sometimes boys, into excellent little humans. I’m very thankful my daughter has a home on this team. Whenever they perform they bring a large crowd. Football games are packed until their halftime show and then there are plenty of seats available after the team has performed. They have become, in a lot of ways, bigger than the game they are dancing at.
When everything started to get cancelled, Ms. Roberts held out hope. She knew what that show represents. She wanted for her team to be able to perform for all their families and loved ones. Some, for the last time. But, as it became more and more likely a show wasn’t going to happen, she did what she always does, and got to work on the next best thing. She virtually met with her team, and she told them of her plan. She spoke to them as she does, first as a coach, but then, and most importantly in this time, as a person they love, a person they trust. She cried with her team, because, their pain is hers. She’s exactly the right person to lead these kids. Vulnerable and strong, loving and compassionate, able to push the kids when they need to be pushed and held when they need a shoulder to cry on.
Coach Roberts decided this year she would do a virtual show. She wanted to give her seniors an ending, not the ending they deserved, but she would do her best to make it as special as she could. She listened to her team, her captains and created a plan. She gave the team specific instructions on how to film their videos. Horizontal or vertical, turns left or right, which parts of the video she needed each girl to complete. She choreographed a dance electronically, something she had no experience in, because that’s exactly who Coach Roberts is. While she was learning how to edit videos she was teaching our kids what dedication really means.
She organized all of the videos from her girls, edited together all the performances, and did the same with some surprise performances. She sent out a million different emails to a million different people asking for help in making the video special. She was able to get and edit a video from the boys at the school, her fellow teachers, and even the parents of the girls. Parents snuck outside or to a basement while their dancer wasn’t paying attention and learned a few 8 counts and sent them in to Coach Roberts with a special message to their dancer and the team.
I’m lucky in that my wife and I have been friends with Coach Roberts for many, many years. So, we know who she is. We got to see all her hard work. Her husband jokingly mentioning to me that he hadn’t seen Coach Roberts in a week or so since she started editing the videos together. My wife was helping her late on a Friday with the editing when she thought she lost a video. So, there was plenty of tears, but again, like she always does, she got back to work. She edited all night Friday, and then again all day Saturday until she sent out the videos to her team and all of their families 30 minutes before show time.
My family sat down at 3 pm on show day and pushed play like many houses in Weymouth did that day. We watched the show together. We got to hear about the whole season, and just what the seniors meant to all of them. We watched as the girls and their coach poured their hearts out on the screen. Laughing together watching all the uncoordinated families attempt to do a dance. And then once again crying as the seniors spoke once last time. It was beautiful, it was perfect, and it was exactly what my little girl needed.
Again, I am lucky that I get to call Coach Roberts my friend. As I was typing this, I typed “Lysh” so many different times and changed it to Coach Roberts. And then, I remembered that I attended her wedding in August and I had to text her husband to ask what I should even call her in my article. She’s been my friend, and one of my wife’s best friends since they were on the Weymouth High dance team together so many years ago. I’m dumb, but not dumb enough to give you the dates on that. So, when I write about her and all she means to my family it goes much deeper than what she did for her team on this video. She’s part of my family. Which, if you asked lots of her friends, her students or our kids on her dance team they would say the same thing.
I’m amazed by a lot that she does. So, as strange as it sounds, her putting in approximately 60 hours of editing, and not sleeping the night before her show was not a surprise to me. If you are reading this and you have a girl on that team just know that you are one of the luckiest parents in the world. And, if you are reading this and you know her, you know exactly what I mean. I’m so proud that I get to call her a friend, but I am even more proud my daughter gets to call her Coach.