Kristina Fetterman, Chantel Kaaihue, and Jennifer Wilson have been honored as the 2021 Dance Drill Coaches Association (DDCA) Dance coaches of the year. They have coached high school dance for 11, 11 and 19 years respectively.
The DDCA coach of the year award was first presented in 1993 and recognizes one coach per classification who has demonstrated outstanding coaching characteristics during the previous year. Candidates are nominated by any member of DDCA. After finalists are named, the DDCA membership votes to select the honoree.
Kristina Fetterman, Wilsonville, 5A coach of the year
Fetterman always knew that she would have a career in dance, but she thought her career would be on stage.
Many mentors in the form of teachers and other coaches, along with the recession of 2007 that left a recent college grad, disillusioned with the dance industry in Los Angeles, looking for “something.” Dance team was always a form of community for Fetterman in high school and so when approached with opportunities to coach, she reluctantly agreed.
Sarah Jakubowski, then head coach at Tualatin, gave Fetterman her first break as a volunteer coach of the Modaz, where she coached the short-lived JV Program.
During that time, long-time dance team coach Kristin Betschart, was toying with the idea of starting a middle school dance team for Tigard-Tualatin School District kids. She joined forces with Erika DeTar, Holly Hahn and Betschart to form the Synergy Middle School dance team.
As the Synergy program was building, Eileen Halme, then head coach at Wilsonville invited Fetterman to join the Pride as an assistant coach.
She coached with Halme for three years and then took over the program as head coach when she retired. Fetterman has been the head coach at Wilsonville for seven years, with the ever-faithful help of Christie Rivas and other coaches.
Always an advocate for studio and dance team and seeing a need for technique classes, especially for dance team kids, she started offering technique classes at the Tigard Grange Hall. It has now evolved into a full-time studio in Tualatin, Core Dance. It has allowed her to offer an extension team, Synergy Too, an elementary dance team for kids grades K-5th.
She goes back and forth between the two worlds, studio and dance team, and sees such profound important aspects of both. Dabbling in both worlds has allowed her greater access to students of all makes and models. She considers any student, she encounters across any of her platforms one of “my kids.” She loves seeing light bulb moments, when things finally click, when dancers master a particularly hard skill that they have been working on, whether at a practice, camp, performance, or in class. This for, Fetterman, is the victory.
“I consider myself lucky that I get to do something I love every day and funnily enough wouldn’t change it for the world, well unless Britney Spears came knocking,” says Fetterman. “Thanks family, friends/peers, mentors, and teachers. I wouldn’t be here doing this without you. Lastly, thank you to the students who place their trust in me day after day and choose to share their passion with me, I don’t ever take that for granted.”
Chantel Kaaihue, Banks, 4A/3A/2A/1A coach of the year
Kaaihue fell in love with dance as a little girl when she attended a local dance clinic for the Forest Grove Vikettes. From that day on she was hooked.
She kept herself busy by taking classes at local studios until she was old enough to become a member of the Vikettes in 2006. While on the team she was a four-year varsity member, senior captain and 2014 6A All State recipient.
Her time as a Vikette provided her with some of her fondest memories. Her favorite being when the Vikettes took home second place at state in the 6A division her senior year.
After graduation, Kaaihue continued her education at the Art Institute of Portland and also began her first coaching job as an assistant at her alma mater.
She coached the Vikettes from 2012-2014. She was then offered a coaching position at Westview as the JV coach.
Her time at Westview was filled with amazing memories and building close friendships with her fellow coaches Ashley Quesnoy and Olivia Heisen. At Westview she helped build a successful JV program and felt she was ready to take on and give more as a coach.
That is exactly what Kaaihue has spent the last four years at Banks doing.
Coaching the Lady Braves, she has provided them with a second home and a place where they can feel at ease. She takes advantage of every opportunity she can find to help further her dancers’ ability and build their confidence.
Her dancers described their coach as “one of a kind.”
She spends countless hours making sure each and every dancer’s time on her team is an experience they will cherish forever.
In addition to coaching, Kaaihue has served on the DDCA board of directors for two years.
“Congratulations Chantel,” writes Quesnoy. “we are so proud of everything you have accomplished and look forward to seeing what you have up your sleeve for the future.”
Jennifer Wilson, Gresham, 6A coach of the year
Wilson started dancing at the age of three at the Judy Marsh School of Dance in Portland.
Her best dance memories came from being a Gresham Rhythmette for all four years of high school.
An offer to help with Rhythmette tryouts and turned into 19 years of coaching at Gresham.
Wilson started at Gresham in 2002 as an assistant and became the head coach in 2004. She has coached in the Show, 6A Small, 5A/6A Large, and 6A Divisions.
Outside of coaching, she has been on the DDCA board of directors for seven years, served as chair, and is currently the treasurer.
Wilson has helped to run floor practice at state, assisted judges at state, been a technical judge, and has hosted the all-state tryouts with the DDCA board.
She has hosted at Gresham’s fall and traditional competitions, the JA Evaluation Competition, and the DDCA Category Championships. Wilson has served as the director of category championships for many years.
She is a certified performance judge in both dance and cheer. Wilson also judges for Dance Magic Competitions, and the Starlight, Grand Floral, and Junior Rose parades.
When asked about Wilson, this is what her students had to say: “There are endless ways she will show you that she cares,” they write. “She will turn in bags of pop cans on her lunch break. She will work around the schedule of every other sport at Gresham. She will get you a new pair of tights. She will ask how your sick mother is doing. She would share her lunch with you on a long Saturday practice if you forgot yours.”
Wilson is described as treating her team and her fellow coaches like family.
“If you are injured, she will care for you,” write her dancers. “If your grades are slipping, she will find resources to help. If you don’t have money for a buddy gift, she will give you some. If you don’t have a home, she will find one for you. Jenn’s heart has no end to its generosity. She is dedicated, committed, hard-working, strong, encouraging, loving, positive and empowering.