Cougarette coach turns dancers into missionaries

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The Cougarettes  leave a lasting spiritual impression on people’s hearts through dance and find missionary opportunities while competing, thanks to the dedication and vision of their coach.

Coach Jodi Maxfield has been dancing since she was a little girl, leading up to a stint with the Cougarettes from 1976 to 1979 as a BYU student. She returned in 1991 to coach the team and has helped the team to grow and reach new levels every year.

Maxfield told a story of a dancer several years ago who saw the Cougarettes perform at a competition and was so impressed with the team that she wanted to know more about them. As she became familiar with BYU, she began to take the missionary discussions and was later baptized. She then attended BYU and became a Cougarette.

“I think it is our responsibility as dancers to use dance in a positive way and uplift people,” Maxfield said. “My goal is to keep (the Cougarettes) raising the bar and becoming better as individuals, dancers and in the way we represent the university.”

Maxfield introduced the team to the competitive world outside of Provo back in 1994, which has led to 13 national championships. But it’s the increase in missionary opportunities, not the titles, that has Maxfield most proud.

“Through our performances and our success at competitions we have been able to spread the gospel,” Maxfield said.

Maxfield has dedicated 27 years to the Cougarettes and understands the importance of finding fulfillment on the stage as the team spreads the joy of the gospel.

“Jodi has worked really hard to build the program, and she really believes in the girls,” former Cougarette Nesha Woodhouse said.

Maxfield finds her pride in the light that the dancers let shine as they perform and seek to spread their love of Christ. She has helped the team to change and improve every year, but her goal is always the same – to help the girls become better people as they share the light of Christ.

“They are so much more than what you see on any basketball court or football field,” Maxfield said. “People don’t know what they are capable of, but then they come to their concerts and are blown away because they have felt something special and seen that light about them.”

It is a priority to Maxfield to impress upon her team the importance of the gospel mixed with their dance talent, according to senior Cougarette Meri Christensen. Maxfield starts practices with a prayer and spiritual thought and never takes a break from the team.

“At the end of the day, what you really remember is how you changed and how the Spirit influenced you,” Christensen said. “It’s those experiences that have changed me and those experiences that I will take with me as I leave the Cougarettes.”

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