Tuesday, March 8, 2016

VRPS Members in the Community: Kat Fish

by Kat Fish

* Aquatics Specialist II,
Prince William County Parks & Recreation

* 2016 LTI Committee:  Secretary
* 2016 Northern Service Area Board:  Chair-Elect

Kat Fish is an Aquatics Specialist II with Prince William County Department of Parks and Recreation. She oversees an indoor aquatic facility and Waterworks Waterpark. She has been with the agency as a lifeguard since she was 15 and just reached her 6th year in a full time capacity. Prior to working full time with PWC she taught high school history classes with Stafford County Public Schools. It was here where she was able to utilize her passion of dance to coach and mentor high school dancers on their Varsity and Junior Varsity teams. She is currently in her 9th year as the Head Coach of the Dance Team Program at Mountain View High School in Stafford.

How/when did you become involved with dance?  What was your dance journey – where are you from & how did you get to where you are now - geographically, professionally, recreationally.

How did I become so passionate about dance? Dance has been in life since the age of 4. My mother enrolled me in my first creative movement class at the center where I currently work. I then added more classes by taking tap, ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern, and pointe. In high school, I was on my dance team and spent my afternoons practicing and then would head straight to my dance studio for many more hours of dance. On average I was dancing about 30 hours a week in high school. Upon graduation I knew that dance needed to remain in my life. I attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where I participated in their Dance Company and Dance Marathon. I graduated with two minors in Dance Education and Dance Performance. I was hired to coach and teach for Stafford County Public Schools in 2007. The school and team were only two years old, so I was motivated to create and build my own program.

What was your greatest concern or doubt, and how did it turn out?  What steps have you taken as a result?

When I was hired I was told some of the history of the last two years of the team. I heard there were issues with the past coaches but at the same time I heard that the team was upset at the departure of their former coaches. My biggest concern was being that “new coach” that they would have to adjust to. Adjust to my rules, my way of running practices, and my expectations of them and of myself as a coach. The first year was definitely a year of ups and downs and lots of learning. I took all of the challenges and successes and captured those onto paper. At the end of the year I reflected back to my notes and created the official Constitution for the team. This set clear expectations for dancers, parents, and myself as the coach. The team had not had any formal guidelines in terms of attendance, grades, behavior, etc. Forming this was a huge step in making the team “my own.” Each year the coaches and I continue to revise and update the Constitution to fit any new obstacles that we have faced in the past year.

How do you feel your efforts with this initiative have strengthened you as an individual, a professional, and a VRPS member?

Some of my team’s major accomplishments in my 9 years as coach were winning the EDA All-Around Grand Champion in 2014 and 2010. They were also Grand Champions in two divisions in 2014 and three divisions in 2010 at U.S. Finals in Virginia Beach. The team continuously has been awarded “Best Technique” at local and national competitions.
When the team is not competing, I encourage community involvement by supporting Special Olympics and performing at local elementary schools fundraisers. They also host a six week dance camp for local middle and elementary schools, teaching proper stretching techniques and dance routines. Beyond their local community, they perform at the Pro Bowl, with the Elite Redskinettes, and during the Macy’s Day Parade.
While stressing teamwork, I also promote growth of the individual dancer. I understand the importance of helping my dancers grow by allowing them to help choreograph their own routines. I then guide them in the refining and cleaning process. The rapport I build with them during this process is evident by the number of dancers that return to perform in the annual alumni routine during basketball season.  Many of those alumni have been extremely successful in their dance careers after graduating from high school. Four have been EDA/UDA instructors, nine have been in college dance companies, and five have been selected for collegiate dance teams. Our current JV Coach is a past dancer and a member of a semi-professional football dance team.

If you could choose one thing to happen for the program in the future, what would it be?

Dance has become a very expensive sport and we have seen a gradual decline in our numbers when it comes time to tryouts. As a team that is solely supported by team fundraisers, I would like to see that one day the school would provide more financial support. Our winning record in Stafford County is one to be proud of but I would like to enjoy this record with more dancers being able to participate without having to worry financially.

What is your best moment throughout the year?

My greatest moment each year with the team is our Alumni Dance. We invite all alumni dancers back to practice for a week. They learn a routine with the current members and then they all perform together at halftime of a home basketball game.  Each year we have at least 10 alumni dancers come back and join us for this experience. It is an opportunity for them to check up on their alma mater and for me to reconnect with members that I was once so closely connected to. We are not just a 4 year team… we are a family.

Anything else you want to express ?

The Leadership Training Institute was my introduction into VRPS. This was the first training I attended and I became instantly hooked on VRPS. From the educational sessions, to the chance to reflect on myself as a supervisor and truly learning new things about myself – I am grateful for my chance to attend LTI. Since LTI, I have become involved in Annual Conference, Northern Service Area, and I am completing my second term with the Leadership Training Institute Board. VRPS has given me the opportunity to step outside of my agency and work with other highly talented professionals in the recreation field.


  1. Great article Kat. You're a great professional and I see why your team has won so many awards.

    It's an honor being on LTI with you.

  2. Great article Kat! You have definitely inspired me and been a guiding model for me this year! Keep up the good work!

  3. Excellent article and a living example of integrating your passion for dance and teaching into your professional and personal life. You strive to be your own best self, as well as bring out the "best" in others on both an individual and team level.