Afina Arstill, Roni Heagy, and Jenna Jernstrom have been named the 2021 Dance Drill Coaches Association (DDCA) assistant coaches of the year.
The award, first presented in 2020, recognizes one outstanding assistant coach per classification for their contribution to Oregon dance team. Candidates are nominated by any member of DDCA. After finalists are named, the DDCA membership votes to select the honoree.
Afina Arstill, Scappoose, 5A
Following four years as a Scappoose Vision dancer, Afina Arstill was hired as an assistant coach at Scappoose. Arstill is dedicated to her coaching and passionate about dance.
She has helped build the dance program in Scappoose by involving herself within the youth teams and inspiring younger kids to find that same passion she has experienced. She started the middle school team when she was barely out of high school and has continued to see it grow.
Currently, Arstill coaches three dance teams in Scappoose. She is an assistant coach for the high school “Vision” team, head coach of the middle school “Explosions,” and head coach of the elementary “Sparks” team.
Throughout Arstill’s coaching journey, she has built a family with two beautiful kids and moved to Washington when her husband, Dan, was stationed there in the military. Even when she had to take time away from her dance family, she still maintained ties and choreographed pieces for our program. All while being involved in her kids’ lives as a soccer mom and raising a toddler.
When Arstill returned to Scappoose, she and her husband immersed themselves in their church activities and both coached sports in the community with Arstill returning to her dance roots.
“Arstill’s ability to motivate and get the best out of her dancers is both inspirational and spiritual,” write her fellow Scappoose coaches. “She always coaches with love, acceptance, and respect.”
Scappoose is truly fortunate to have Arstill touch the lives of so many children in our community. And our coaching staff is blessed to call Arstill a coach and a friend.
Roni Heagy, Stayton, 4A/3A/2A/1A
Roni Heagy started her love for dance and her ability to quickly pick up choreography around the young age of three at a local dance studio. She then continued to dance competitively through her elementary and middle school years, where her passion for dancing only grew.
As she was growing up, she tried a few other sports, but her natural talent and ambition kept leading her to continue dancing.
When entering high school, Heagy knew that there was no other team she would rather join than the Stayton Highlights.
While on the Highlights, she helped lead the team to a State Championship in 2017 and three second place finishes. Her senior year she earned a place on the DDCA all-state team and was awarded a DDCA dance scholarship.
After graduating Heagy spent a couple of years in Arizona attending Grand Canyon University, until the pandemic led her back home where she picked up online college classes.
“I have always wanted to coach with Heagy,” writes Highlights head coach April Hermann. “Even coaching her in high school, I knew that she was born to be a leader! One of the first things on her list after moving back was getting on our coaching staff for the 2020-2021 season. We just knew it was all in perfect timing and meant to be!”
Heagy earned the position of lead assistant coach and has proven her immense love for this team over and over this season. She helped choreograph all of our competitive routines as well as always having choreography ready to teach fun combos to our team!
“Our dancers connected with her instantly, as she strived to form bonds with each of them,” says Hermann. “She also came up with new and innovative team ideas and traditions. She always wanting to better the team in any way she could!”
Although this season wasn’t the way it was supposed to be, she stuck by my [Hermann] side through it all and motivated all of us to persevere through the hard times! We appreciate you Coach Heagy and love you so much! Thank you for simply being the best, you mean so much to us!
Jenna Jernstrom, Canby, 6A
Jenna Jernstrom has been dancing since her youth. She trained at Allegro Dance studio, studying jazz, ballet, aerial, and pointe. She performed in countless recitals and ballets, including the lead of Peter Pan.
In high school she was a member of the Canby dance team for four years, where James Healey and Jenn Chaffee were her coaches. She served as a team captain her senior year.
After high school she attended Oregon State University and joined the OSU Elite Dance Team. Her sophomore year she made the OSU cheer and dance team. She performed at football games, basketball games, and other appearances, including traveling for games and tournaments. Throughout college Jenna was a fitness instructor and taught classes at Dixon.
Following graduation, Jernstrom she returned "home" to the Canby area. Coach Chaffee reached out and asked her if she would be interested in coaching dance team, and lucky for the team, she said yes!
In 2016, Jernstrom was a member of the Winterhawks Rosebud Dance Team and performed at games and other appearances.
Jernstrom has been an assistant coach for five years now. She is an amazing choreographer and teacher. Her half-time routines are always team favorites! She has also choreographed competitive kick routines.
This year she added the role of head cheer coach to her resume -- and she is doing an amazing job building the cheer program at Canby.
Jernstrom brings strong dance technique, an eye for cleaning and formations, and fun routines to the team. Team members look up to her and respect her.
“We love having Jernstrom on staff,” writes Chaffee. “She completes our coaching team and brings so much to the team.”