Her promptness isn’t overlooked. And prompt she is. In fact, she’s early.
“I’m Kate,” she says extending her hand forward with a smile. Her blue infinity scarf and clear blue eyes offset her soft grey t-shirt and dark blue jeans. In navy letters, “South City Prep” is printed across the front of her shirt, and on her hand is a sparkling ring in the shape of a Rams’ head.
Kate is a 23-year-old Quincy, Illinois native, who works as a reading and writing teacher at South City Preparatory Academy in St. Louis. A dancer since second grade, she’s also a rookie Rams Cheerleader.
2014 was Kate’s fourth year trying out for the team. Her first year auditioning she made it through the first round, the second she missed, and the third she made it to the final round but not the final lineup.
“I didn’t know what to expect my first time trying out,” Kate said. “The pageant and the interviews, it was all new to me. I made it to the first round, but that was it. I came back the next year, but that year the tryouts were done all in one day instead of over three. I wrote the time down wrong and missed it.”
Missing the second year of tryouts devastated Kate, but she said it was a blessing in disguise. “Missing the second tryout time showed me how much more it takes than just dancing to be on this team. Being organized, knowing details and keeping track of time all plays into it,” Kate said. And missing the second tryout ended up working out for Kate. She came back for a third tryout more confident and comfortable after a year of professional interviews, changes to her diet and exercise routine and becoming more well-rounded.
“Before it was like I could just get up and be ready to dance… but with the Rams there is so much more that goes into it—diet, exercise, dancing, the mindset and being a professional. It’s all of it in one,” she said.
Kate didn’t give up either, saying that’s partly because she is stubborn and determined. “Once I set my mind to something I want, I’m going to achieve it. A lot of my accomplishments in life are because I don’t give up. I push until I get what I am going for. After that second tryout, it became less about being known as a Rams cheerleader and more about proving to myself that I could do it, that I belonged there.”
And belong she does.
“There is nothing like dancing on the field,” Kate said. “The home opener—my first game—was breathtaking, exhilarating and emotionally incredible. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I get to be around an amazing group of women, do something I love (dance) and get to know the St. Louis community. These are experiences I wouldn’t have had without the Rams, so it’s pretty amazing.”
During the day, Kate works as a reading and writing teacher at South City Preparatory Academy (SCP). She works at the school year round to help prepare students to be successful in high school and college and has been at SCP for almost two years, landing the job in April 2013 while finishing school at Greenville College where she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
“Mostly I teach sixth grade, but the majority of students at our school are not reading on grade level,” Kate said. “The purpose of the school is to help get students prepared for and on a path to be successful in high school and college. A huge part of that is getting them to the right academic level.”
SCP adds a grade each year, and with the upcoming addition of opening a high school, Kate has started thinking about what that means for her long-term. “We are going to have older students reading below grade level, so I need to prepare and educate myself to teach remedial reading for those upper grades,” she said. For Kate, this means starting an education master’s program at Webster University in January 2015, with a focus on reading.
Her master’s degree will also play into her long-term goal. “I want to open an after school community center,” Kate said. “It should be a place to go where they can learn, play and have opportunities to grow that they might not have had otherwise. It could be here in St. Louis, but right now my dream is to be in Chicago. No matter what, it will be somewhere inner-city.”