It was 29 degrees and pitch dark when I turned my vehicle into the Dublin High School parking lot on Monday morning, wondering what under the name of all that’s unholy and awful I was doing. I don’t even care about the well being of my own children at that time of day, much less whether or not the Dublin Dandi-Lions have a championship drill team, and yet there I was with nothing to do but get a smile on my face, right? After all, I was once upon a time a performance coach myself, and as my own daughter and former performer can tell you, I am nothing if not a master of “the smile” so after making sure that it was firmly in place, I stepped into the frigid early morning air and made my way across the deserted lot.
Because my shoulders were already burdened with a heavy coat, they refused to carry my personal bag, camera bag, computer bag, and large lens bag as far as the gym so I had to stop once in the commons area to reload, and that’s when I heard it…the Dandi-Lions’ dance music spilling out of the gym…it didn’t matter what it was because a show tune is a show tune, is a show tune, is a show tune, and suddenly it all came back to me, and in that split second I remembered the old drive, and I understood why it is that Stacey Cervetto does what she does. I still planned to ask her, of course, but I already knew.
She loves it, plain and simple!
Stacey Cervetto, who has been wearing the new surname of Henson for a very short time now, is the daughter of Dublin Lion Coach Bob Cervetto, and it took me about the width of a gym floor to know for sure that here was a young woman who has it all together when it comes to “her girls,” and she is willing to work as hard as it takes to help them be as successful as they can be.
“I never intended to teach,” Stacey confided while her girls took a quick water break.
Did I ever understand that one!
“I attended Tarleton State University, and was a member of the Texan Stars while I was there. The goal was to get a kinesiology degree and then own my own gym. I told my dad that I needed to get some intern hours, and he mentioned that I could do them here at DHS.
“You know how it is,” she smiled, looking out over her sea of eighteen girls. “They are just like leaches. They get their hold on you, and they don’t let go!”
Did I ever KNOW! Stacey didn’t know it, but she was talking to the woman who only agreed to help out a principal for one…count it ONE…single first day of school and ended up staying for years. That’s the way it happens to we unsuspecting souls, who not even in our worst nightmare plan to become schoolteachers!
As it happened, according to Letha Northcutt, counselor at DHS, Stacey, who is now in her second full year at Dublin, is the best Phys Ed and drill team instructor the school has ever had, and Letha should know, considering she has put 41 years into the system herself!
“I vibe off of the kids,” Stacy, who is often called Coach C, laughed, “And their energy gives me mine. It’s wonderful. Who has more energy than a bunch of high school kids?”
And who needs it more than those who teach these high energy young women, especially since Stacy Cervetto Henson has to rise at 3:30 a.m. each morning in order to get herself to practice on time from her home in Granbury, where she and her husband reside.
And for the next two weeks those practices will be intense since the girls are heading to contest, the Crowd Pleasers Showcase in Grand Prairie, where schools of all sizes from all over Texas as well as some from neighboring states will convene to compete for top honors.
“Last year, we were the small division grand champion, but this year we are hoping to win the overall grand champion. We will be competing with schools of all sizes, including Stephenville, and we are really working hard for the win!”
It won’t be easy. The larger schools like Stephenville have the funds to go to several competitions each year, giving their girls more practice at competing. Dublin isn’t so fortunate, and the Dandi-Lions will be competing only once…with everything on the line.
The show consists of three different team routines, a medium ensemble with six of the girls, an officers’ routine, and four solos. Obviously, the latter two competitions require the girls to step up and take ownership of what they are doing, giving them a vested interest in the overall success of the team.
“It’s been a wild ride for me. I didn’t dance all of my life like so many teachers do. I cheered. It was my sister-in-law who was the dancer, and I decided that I wanted to dance with the Texan Stars when I went to Tarleton like she did. At that time, it was Mrs. Evans who coached the Stingerettes at Stephenville, and I went to her and told her I needed her help. I don’t know how she did it, but I tried out at Tarleton, and I made it!”
And the rest is history. Today, Stacey is in her second full year at Dublin ISD, and she and her girls practice from 6:00-8:30 every morning and then she hosts an optional after school practice for 1 ½ or 2 hours in the afternoons for those who can come. She has also just this year opened a junior high dance class for those students, “And that has been huge.”
As to what the future holds for Stacey Cervetto Henson…no one, not even the feisty blonde herself, can answer that question, and I understood that so I chose to spend my last few minutes with some of her students.
“Here’s your chance,” I whispered as we moved away from the others. “Tell me what you really think.”
It was Maricsa who spoke up first, and I nearly feinted at what I heard! “I love morning practice because it wakes me up and makes our day!”
“I hate getting up,” Ruby broke into the conversation, “but after that, I love it because it is such a stress reliever.”
“It helps me forget all about the work that is coming with the school day,” Tara agreed.
And then Ana, who was wearing her green Team Luke tee because she took a selfie with Luke Wade, and “He was only five feet away” joined the conversation. “Practice helps me forget the bad and the pressure of school.”
“And it’s a good way to start the day. Plus, it’s so good to start the day with people who have the same passion that I do,” Kayla added.
But it was Natalie’s comment that drew the biggest discussion as well as the most head-nodding agreement. “These girls are just like having another family. We spend as much time…”
And Tara could wait no longer to be heard once again, “I spend more time with these than my own family!”
And then I think it was Kayla who whispered, “We didn’t like her when she was a student teacher…”
“You didn’t like her?” I whispered back as if the very, very with it instructor wasn’t hearing our every word.
“No, cause she was so hard…but in the long run, there was a method to her madness,” Kayla explained, and I was left remembering that those exact words had come out of Abel Aguilar’s mouth about Stacey’s father, Bob Cervetto, just a few weeks ago.
And then Tara added, “In the end, she made the team stronger, but don’t tell her, cause she will get the big head.”
“We are really grateful to her. We’ve been with her so long that we’ve started to become her; that is scary,” Marisca told me as they all dissolved into laughter.
“If she had not come here, none of us would be on the team, and we have put the Dublin Dandi-Lions back on the map!”
And here at Texansunited.com, we will be waiting and cheering for this spirited and certainly very talented group of girls as they face off against some of the best teams in the state and beyond.
GO GET EM, GIRLS!