College athletes tend not to have a lot of time on their hands between practice, traveling, games and meets on top of regular schoolwork, jobs and extra curricular activities. It seems nearly impossible to fit something like learning a new artform into such a hectic schedule, but in the off-season, some student-athletes embrace their inner artist.
Tamara Statman, a political science junior and designated player for the UA softball team, has been playing softball her entire life, and her passion shows through her performance. Over the past two seasons, Statman has batted in 46 runs, hit 6 home runs and in the 2016 season secured a .289 batting average.
“Softball’s a really interesting sport because you’re going to fail more than you’re going to succeed,” Statman said. “It makes it that much more rewarding I think, because it is a game of failure.”
When she isn’t focused on softball, Statman has a very different hobby — one that gets her out on the dance floor.
“Right before I got to college I wanted to learn how to dance,” she said. “When I came to the U of A, I did a lot of east coast swing dance.”
Statman began participating in Swing Cats, the UA’s swing dance group, and started learning the East Coast style.
East Coast swing is normally characterized by its classic swing music and circular dance pattern, similar to the “Jitterbug.”
West Coast swing was also being taught by the Swing Cats, which is typically a bit slower and follows a rectangular pattern. While Statman wasn’t keen on the new style at first, she’s grown to enjoy both.
What first started as a desire to learn how to dance gradually transformed into an affinity and talent for the art. Now, Statman is the publicity director for Tucson Swing Dance Club, and even travels to swing dance conventions. She has competed in California and Israel, and was just recently promoted to the intermediate category.
Swing dance conventions provide a place to put one’s skills to the test and compete alongside and against other passionate dancers, but they also feature workshops and other fun events, according to Statman. For her and many others, the sleepless nights are the best part.
“The reason people go to these conventions is for the late-night dancing,” Statman said. “This dancing is from midnight to about 8 a.m. depending on the event … and it’s called the “Breakfast Club” because you leave the ballroom when it’s light outside.”
Dance is a valuable art form in and of itself for the physical health benefits like staying in shape and improving coordination; Statman said her time doing swing and learning the moves has helped her with footwork elements in softball. Like any form of art, dance is also a way for people to express themselves.
“It’s a really good form of therapy,” Statman said. “It’s a different challenge than normal because it is artistic … and so subjective. I can’t draw, I can’t really express stuff certain ways but there’s kind of a magic to dance.”
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