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Dance: Coach Spotlight with … Milwaukie’s Ryan Sanford

The Milwaukie coach talks what led him to coaching, why dance is important to him, and alumni returning post-graduation


April 23, 2021 by Danielle Schneider, OSAAtoday


Since 2011, Ryan Sanford, has been the head coach of his alma mater.

[Author’s note: “Coach Spotlight” is a miniseries offering a quick look at some of Oregon’s dance team coaches. Today, we are getting to know Milwaukie head coach Ryan Sanford. Sanford, an alum of the Pony Prancers dance team was named the program’s head coach in 2011. We provided Sanford with a series of questions to answer. Here’s how he responded!]

In 2010, Sanford returned to his alma mater, Milwaukie, as an assistant coach. The following the retirement of Sherry Summerville, he was named the program’s head coach in 2011. He previously coached at Wilsonville and a prior stint at Milwaukie (2006-09). The 20-21 season marks his 15th year as a dance coach.

OSAAtoday: How did you get into coaching? What is your dance background?

Ryan Sanford: I started dancing my freshman year of high school and have a background in gymnastics. I was actually dared by my friends to audition for the dance team. My plan was to do soccer. I made the team and my mother told me that since I auditioned, I would need to complete a full year of dance. If I didn’t like it then I could move on to other things. I was hooked from the start!!

My senior year I was asked by my coach, Sherry Summerville, to choreograph 30 seconds of our state routine. After I graduated, she asked me to come on board as an assistant coach responsible for choreography. I am so grateful to be given that opportunity. That is why I am here today.

OSAAtoday: What’s your best dance tip for a male student wishing to get into dance or to continue dance after high school?

Sanford: Put yourself out there! If you have the desire to perform, in front of people, you should at least give it a shot. I do not know where I would be today without dance in my life. Get yourself into a studio before, during, and after high school. Take as many classes as you can and just absorb everything around you!

OSAAtoday: As you look back at your coaching career what is your greatest success to date?

Sanford: This is a hard one; there are so many great memories so far. My first year as head coach, we grew our team from 18 to 42 members. With so many students interested, we had to create a JV team. That year our JV team took first place at the Oregon Junior State Championships and our varsity team repeated as state champions at the OSAA dance and drill state championships.

I’m also really proud of our 2018 USA Dance National Title. It was the first time Milwaukie had ever competed in a national competition and we came home with a National Title! Seeing our kids being exposed to that side of our dance world was truly something special. Another great moment as a coach, is seeing our alumni dancers succeed after high school. Dance team isn’t just about dance. It’s about teaching and learning life lessons that will take you far in life. Seeing alumni come back to visit just brings back all the memories of our time with them. That is what I truly love about coaching.

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