Nineteen national titles, four international tours, countless viral videos and the love and admiration of over six hundred young women is the legacy Jodi Maxfield is leaving behind as she wraps up her 30-year career as the head coach and artistic director of the BYU Cougarettes.
Maxfield said the decision to retire was not an easy one.
“I just have come to a place where I feel like I love what I’m doing, but I also have had to make some tough decisions where my family is concerned,” Maxfield said. “It’s very bittersweet.”
Cougarette alumnae will hold a retirement celebration in Maxfield’s honor on Feb. 15 in conjunction with Maxfield’s final Cougarettes in Concert performances taking place this weekend. Women will travel to Provo from all around the country to attend the celebration and show their respect and gratitude for Maxfield’s dedication and influence.
Maxfield was a Cougarette herself in the late 1970s and began coaching the team in 1991. Since then, she has led the team’s evolution to include different styles, switch to the athletic department and receive national and international recognition.
Maxfield led the Cougarettes to their first national finals competition in 1996 and has continued to do so nearly every year since. She said her background in cut-throat high school drill team competitions prepared her to lead the Cougarettes to compete at the national level.
“I didn’t know that I was that anxious to get back into competition but I felt like the girls deserved to have that opportunity,” Maxfield said.
Maxfield also was the first to introduce hip-hop to the Cougarettes’ repertoire in the mid-1990s. The team first competed in the hip-hop division in 2011, one year after the genre was introduced at the national championship competition.
“People thought, ‘How is the little Mormon school from Provo, Utah, even going to be competitive in the hip hop division?’” Maxfield said, “And we won.”
Since then, the Cougarettes have become an iconic hip-hop college dance team, having secured the division’s first place spot in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019, according to BYUcougars.com.
Maxfield helped create the vision behind performances that have gone viral online, including halftime hip-hop routines featuring Cosmo the Cougar.
“All of that has furthered the cause and helped us to come out of obscurity and be renowned worldwide,” Maxfield said.
Kelsey Kamauu, a Cougarette from 2000-2003, is making the trip from Hawaii to Provo to be at Maxfield’s retirement celebration on Feb. 15. She says the trip is worth it to show her gratitude for Maxfield’s love and mentorship over the years.
“I really want to be there to celebrate her career and cheer her on as she makes this transition,” Kamauu said. “That is what she did for all of us as we went through college and transitioned into adulthood.”
Other former and current Cougarettes agree that Maxfield’s influence has extended far beyond the dance studio.
“She has showed me how wonderful life can be when you do what you love and live every day with passion and dedication,” said Emry Wride, Cougarette senior and dance captain. “Jodi made 177 in the RB my second home.”
Shaundee Bull, a Cougarette from 1996-2001, said Maxfield was her greatest role model during her college years and beyond.
“During those college years, as you are away from your parents for the first time, and you really have to stand for the first time on what you believe,” Bull said. “To have a leader and coach who stood as a pillar of love and example of (Christ) was critical and helped me to have a deeper relationship with Him, too.”
Maxfield said her greatest treasure from her years with the Cougarettes has been her relationships with each of her dancers.
“Trophies break and get stored away and collect dust and rings tarnish and fade, but the relationships that you create — that’s what I would say is probably the most special thing about Cougarettes,” Maxfield said.
Miki Eberhardt, Cougarette member from 1997 to 2000, remembers how Maxfield encouraged her and her teammates to be not only excellent dancers and people but excellent representatives of Jesus Christ.
“When we would go to compete in Florida, she had us bring extra Books of Mormon with our pictures in it to give as gifts to fellow teams,” Eberhardt said. “Jodi knew that other teams noticed how we were different and used it to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Maxfield said trying to share the gospel wherever the Cougarettes go is a no-brainer.
“I think when people are drawn to you by what they see you do on stage, it opens up that dialogue and gives us an opportunity to talk and share the things that we believe,” Maxfield said.
Maxfield has been involved with the Cougarettes for over half of her life, and her 30 years of leadership are nearly half of the program’s 74-year history.
Maxfield said she will not be directly involved in choosing her replacement, but she cares too much about the direction and future of the Cougarettes to just stand by and watch, so she will be consulted in that process.
“I’ll always be a fan of BYU,” Maxfield said. “We’ll be at the games and be supporting and cheering on the Cougarettes. It’s a part of me, and I know that even though I’ll be leaving as the head coach, that it’s not going to leave me.”
The Cougarettes will perform their annual concert with Mayfield directing them for the last time on Feb. 15 at the Covey Center for the Arts. They will compete at the NDA National Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida, from April 8-12.
“They are a phenomenal team because she is a phenomenal woman,” said Cougarette alumna Jennifer Tingey. “The legacy she leaves is a world-class, gospel-centered dance team and literally hundreds of dancers whom she has taught, mentored and loved.”