By Courtney Carlston
From the twists and turns of the slam-dunk contest, to the free Glazes donuts, the Cougar Tipoff was full of surprises, including BYUSA President Dave Johnson”s performance with the Cougarettes.
The idea surfaced a few weeks ago in a meeting between Johnson and BYU athletic marketing director Tony Jewkes. At the end of the meeting, Johnson lightheartedly mentioned his desire to dance with the Cougarettes.
“I think I was being honest,” Johnson said. “But it was still kind of a joke beyond what I ever thought was possible.”
Certainly Jewkes didn”t think it was impossible as he pitched the idea to Jodi Maxfield, the director of the Cougarettes. Maxfield worked on some ideas for the performance and Johnson immediately started practicing with the team.
“Working with Dave was fantastic,” said Cougarette Julianne Hawks. “He was on time to every rehearsal, worked hard and had dedication. That”s what it takes to be a Cougarette.”
Although Johnson worked hard to learn the dance and was devoted to make every practice, he still had a difficult time picking up the dance moves as quickly as the Cougarettes.
“They are amazing,” Johnson said. “A lot of them were learning the dance for the first time when I was, and they had it in all about two minutes. It took me another couple of hours of rehearsal after that to even partially know what was going on. They pick it up at a level that is unbelievable.”
As the performance time drew near and the crowd got bigger, Johnson”s nerves started to creep up on him.
“The question is will the rubber meet the road,” Johnson asked. “Will I be able to do the moves in front of thousands of fans?
“I hope so. I don”t want to choke, especially for the students. This is all for them, and frankly, choking now would be a scary thing.”
As the lights dimmed and the music started, the Cougarettes walked to mid-court, ready to participate in one of the night”s biggest surprises. The performance began without Johnson, but unbeknownst to the audience, he had spent hours practicing for his once in a life time opportunity. Johnson quickly joined in, starting with a simple solo made up from his very own dance moves.
“It was a little from my club experience as a club dancer,” Johnson said jokingly. “I tried to borrow a little bit from hip-hop and a little from my Arizona roots.”
The real surprise came half way through the performance, when Johnson started dancing in sync with the Cougarettes. The fans went wild. The crowd was making as much noise for Johnson as they did when the men”s basketball team was announced.
“We knew what was going to happen,” Maxfield said. “We kind of teased him a little at the beginning. We had him go out and do his own thing and I don”t think anyone really expected him to go in choreograph with the Cougarettes.”