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One big balancing act

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by Emily Wemhoff, photos by Lindsey Valdiviez

The STA varsity dance team girls hold up their coach and Kansas City Chief's Cheerleader Christina Monaco.

She wakes up bright and early to be at STA by 6 a.m for varsity dance team practice. She drives back to Lee’s Summit to teach more classes at her family’s dance studio. She puts in the long hours to be an NFL cheerleader for the Kansas City Chiefs, attending youth programs, practices and games every week.

 

STA varsity dance team coach Christina Monaco’s schedule is “crazy,” but to her, “when you love what you do, it’s easy to make it all work out in the end.”

 

Monaco was hired this year to be the head coach of STA’s varsity dance team after previous coach Savannah Vose moved to Arizona.

 

“I have always wanted to coach a high school dance team, so when the opportunity came upon me, I jumped on it right away,” Monaco said.

 

According to Monaco, so far, the hardest part of coaching has been “making the team my own.”

 

 

“I didn’t want to come in and knock down all traditions or things they have done in the past that were meaningful to them,” Monaco said. “I had to find a way to make changes in a positive way. The girls have been willing to make changes to this program, which has been great.”

 

Cheerleading for the Chiefs was a natural transition for Monaco. Dancing has always been a passion of hers and she did not want to give it up after performing in college.

 

“When I graduated from Arizona State in 2010, I moved back home to KC,” Monaco said. “I have always been a die hard Chiefs fan, so I thought I’d go for it. I auditioned in 2011 and made it and now have been cheering for three years.”

 

Even though she tries hard to not miss any activity, Monaco’s cheerleading does cut into her coaching time for the STA varsity dance team.

 

“[Monaco] isn’t able to come to some of the volleyball and basketball games we perform at because she has practice for Chiefs,” senior captain Katie Daniels said. “She also wasn’t able to make it to our Rockhurst halftime performance.”

 

However, according to Daniels, Monaco’s absences do not have a major effect on the team.

 

“We are completely understanding of her other job and it doesn’t have a negative effect,” Daniels said. “[Monaco] is there for practice so we always feel ready for our performances. We are really lucky to have a coach that is so motivated to help us perform to the best of our ability.”

 

STA’s varsity dance team’s dynamic has been different than previous years. According to Daniels, most of the choreography is done by Monaco.

 

“In the past we have had other people come in and teach our dances to us, but this year our coach is teaching us almost everything,” Daniels said. “And since she makes up everything herself, she knows how she wants the dance to look, and works at it until it is perfect.”

 

Even though making the time for all three of her jobs is stressful, Monaco loves each one and would not trade them for the world.

 

“I love cheering because I get to perform and represent my hometown in such an amazing way, and I love coaching because I love being a positive mentor to my girls and watching them grow and succeed,” Monaco said. “I get the best of both worlds.”

 

Monaco does not plan on giving up coaching in the near future.

 

“I hope to coach for a long time,” Monaco said. “It’s something I have always wanted to do and I don’t see myself going anywhere anytime soon.”

 

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One big balancing act