One last time for Packer dance coach and her daughterPublished 7:26pm Wednesday, February 13, 2013
When Austin senior Taryn Sims steps on the Target Center floor to compete in the Class ‘AA’ state dance meet this Saturday, she’s sure to be rushing with emotions.
There will be excitement, joy and probably some sadness.
Taryn, who has been on the Packer varsity dance team for the past four years, will be dancing under head coach Jen Sims, who is Taryn’s mom, for the last time and when it’s all done the two will definitely feel something.
“I’m sad it’s my last time, but state is what we work for all season long,” Taryn said. “It’s one of the best experiences and it’s more special that my mom gets to see all of the behind the scenes stuff. She has more of an in than any other parent.”
Growing up with dance
Jen, who grow up in Willmar, Minn., was on her dance team in high school and she stayed active in dance when she attended Moorhead State University in college.
She got into coaching after that, but she was never going to force Taryn to stick with dance. Jen signed her up for dance classes when she was three, but Taryn also showed interest in gymnastics and soccer.
“I felt no matter what she wanted to do, dance would be a good foundation,” Jen said. “I didn’t want her to think that she had to dance, so I encouraged her to be in gymnastics.”
When they moved from Nebraska to Austin in 2002, Taryn gave up gymnastics at the age of seven and she stuck with dance throughout her elementary, middle school and high school years.
She also continued to play soccer and was a starting defender for the Packer soccer team this past fall.
Nothing comes easy
Taryn made the Packer dance team varsity squad as a freshman, but it was by no means because her mom was the coach and it wasn’t easy for her.
As an alternate, Taryn had to work for every second she had on performance days.
“It was definitely a challenge to get used to,” Taryn said. “I had to learn to shut my mouth and listen because I was a lowly freshman. As I’ve grown older, (my mom and I) have grown a bond through the team and it’s been a really special experience. Being on the dance team is like one big family and it kind of excencuiates it when your mom’s the coach.”
Taryn was by no means a natural when she was younger and Jen made her work for everything she got with them. She certainly wasn’t going to hand her a position just because Taryn was her daughter.
“I’ve been really hard on her and sometimes I feel bad about it,” she said. “I’ve always told her that I’ll be extra hard on you and you’ll have to earn everything. You’ll have to make sure it’s obvious that you deserve whatever you get on this team.”
Tough love pays off
Jen will rarely praise her daughter in practice in front of the team, as she usually saves that for when the two get home. But that hasn’t upset Taryn in the least as she understands that her mom is her coach in practice and a parent when the day is done.
“She never compliments me at practice, but she’s not afraid to point me out if I’m doing something wrong,” Taryn said. “You never want to be pointed out for doing something incorrectly by your mom. That’s just ten times worse than any other coach. It definitely pushed me harder so I could be my best.”
When they get home, Taryn and Jen will sometimes watch dance videos or work on choreography in the kitchen. But they also have their fair share of relaxation time on the couch.
Jen said she’s seen her daughter grow over the years with the team.
“I think she’s become a strong person and she’s had to,” Jen said. “She’s tougher than I am sometimes when she’s critiquing performances.”
As for the final dance on Saturday, Jen isn’t sure how she’ll respond. She’s mostly thinking about preparing the Packers for their 11th straight state dance meet.
“I’ve tried not to think too much about it. Every experience is special,” Jen said. “Taryn’s just another girl on the team and there are times that I forget that she’s there. If she’s getting a medal and I hear her name it stands out, but most of the time she’s just another team member.”
Jen and Taryn are not the only mother-daughter connection on the Packer dance team this season. Marny Rohr, who runs Just For Kix in Oak Park Mall and helps out with Packer dance team, is the mother of freshman Madaline Rohr and assistant coach Wendy Fleiner is the mother of junior Megan Fleiner.