Dance is in the Hernandez family. But it’s one thing to dance around the house, and quite another to do it professionally.
For mother and daughter, Sophia and Sophia Hernandez, it gets even more interesting. Mother is the dance coach of the team on which her daughter dances.
The atmosphere at the dance practices is playful, with the two Sophias on the receiving end.
Coaching her daughter always was going to feel strange. Before she took the position to be the dance coach for Garden City Community College, the mother had a talk with her daughter about the importance of maintaining boundaries.
Sophia Magdalene Hernandez, 17, daughter to Sophia Hernandez, said she dances because she loves to do it, among other reasons.
“It is my escape from the world around me,” she said, adding that it allows her to express herself in ways she finds difficult to explain.
Known as “Little Sophia” to her mother’s “Coach,” she said it was not a surprise that she had ended up on the dance team; she was a dancer since the age of 3.
“I started out with Steps Dance School doing ballet,” she said. “That background gave me the kind of discipline I need to dance on a team like I am doing now.”
The inevitable question about how the two handle discipline issues has always been asked. The mother said she sometimes has to pick her daughter out of the team.
“But that’s what I would do for anyone on the team,” she said. “We had a discussion when I took up the job. I told her not to get an attitude with me or to take it personal when I came down hard on her. In the studio, I am not a mom, I am a coach.”
But at home, the two Sophias agree things are different. Although, the younger Sophia said she sometimes feels “different” when her mom tells her to do something to do with dance at home, and her mother said she feels more comfortable at home, not having to think too much about boundaries.
Sophia said she does not think having her mom as coach has had any significant impact on her relationship with her. The two came to the team in the summer, with the daughter trying out and the mother joining in the same season as coach.
“The first thing that I have them do is stretch when we come to the studio for practice,” the elder Sophia said. “We then go over different techniques. Sophia helps me with that, since she has a background in dance.”
Sophia Hernandez started out coaching dance at Garden City High School.
“I took a break for three years. I didn’t coach for all that time, and then … here I am today,” she said.
The Sophia-Sophia conundrum was Sophia’s father’s idea. Sophia Hernandez said she had wanted to name her daughter something else, but her husband won that contest.
“I guess she is Sophia the Second,” she said, jokingly.
“If we have an episode, I remind myself I am her coach,” she said. “I do not want to embarrass her as a mother in front of her team.”
Although the elder Sophia never danced professionally, she said she has always had something for dance. It was a pleasant surprise for her to even be named coach at the GCCC, she said.
“I was invited over by the coach to try out some dances, and just like that I was given the opportunity to coach part time,” she said. “I think it was mainly by word of mouth that my name got here.”
The practice routine is composed of daily practice every week, except for weekends. The team dances during halftime at college games or at other events around the city.
In two years, the younger Sophia will leave the team and head to Kansas State University. Though she is not certain about it, she would like to join the K-State cheerleading team. The time she has spent learning from her mother will be drawn upon to help her make the team, she said.