Dancers lose one coach, rally around the next one

Long-time dance team coach Dan Sapp retired at the end of last semester and new coach Brittanee Roberts said she is excited to lead a team willing to put in hard work.

With more than two dozen national titles and an international gold medal, Orange Coast College’s cheer and dance coach Dan Sapp has hung up his OCC pom poms.

Sapp retired from OCC last semester after 26 years building the dance team’s legacy from the ground up. Throughout the years he brought home 26 national titles from the Universal Dance Association and 26 undefeated national championships from United Dance Spirit.

In 2011, OCC represented the United States as Team USA at the International Cheer Union World Championships and brought home the gold. In 2014, Sapp was the first and only dance coach to be inducted into the U.S. All Star Federation Hall of Fame.

Sapp said his main goal throughout his career was to implement the importance of diligence into his dancers.

“I wanted the team to learn the value of hard work, teamwork and responsibility. I wanted to teach them to succeed on the dance floor and off, and when you fail you get right back up and work even harder,” Sapp said.

With this philosophy, Sapp has had an influence on many of his dancers.

Three-year OCC dance team alumna Savannah Sipprell said Sapp taught her to persevere and pushed her to her highest ability.

“I have learned so much from him. He has taught me how to have dedication, determination and commitment throughout all walks of life. He is the biggest support system to all of his past and present dancers. He truly cares about those he has worked with,” Sipprell said.

Veterans of the team said Sapp dedicated every ounce of his own determination and devotion to OCC’s dance team to make it what it is today. Although he no longer coaches for the team, hundreds of dancers still carry the lessons that he taught.

With Sapp’s departure from Coast, the dance team will be in the hand of Brittanee Roberts.

Roberts was a high school dance team coach who made the transition into collegiate dance where she immediately noticed a difference between the two. She said she saw, as she worked with the team, that the dancers had the same work ethics and determination as she did.

“I was so excited to have the opportunity to work with athletes who had the same vision I did and were willing to put in the work,” Roberts said.

While coaching for OCC she said she found she has more freedom in teaching the way she wanted to. She wanted the dancers to strive for their best — not only caring about wearing the uniform and cheering at the games.

Her first major event as OCC’s new coach was last month when she took the team to Universal Dance Association Nationals in Orlando where they competed against 30 other colleges and came away fourth in the nation.

Two-year dance team veteran Makenna Schulte said Roberts motivated the team by dedicating a majority of her time and effort to ensure that the team felt confident when they took the stage.

“Her positive mindset and passion for dance gave us the motivation to work our hardest in order to achieve our goals,” Schulte said.

As Roberts took over the dance team, she was fully aware of the legacy that was left behind. She spoke on how both Sapp and former cheer coach, Mike Reynolds, who has also stepped down, both left enormous shoes to fill.

“Mike and Dan are very well known in our industry and when anyone thinks about cheer and dance, they are one of the first duos to come to mind,” Roberts said.

Roberts said she hopes to carry on the legacy in her own way.

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