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Athlete of the Week

Koczak lights up the stage

Katie Koczak and her solo teacher, Ms. Deanna after winning Petite Miss Encore Dance. Photo provided (click for larger version)
September 01, 2010 - Eight-year-old Katie Koczak was surprised when her name was called for the winner of Petite Miss Encore Dance on June 27.

"I couldn't believe it," said Koczak, a fourth-grader at Bailey Lake Elementary.

"I thought they mixed it up. I didn't think I did that well. I thought, are you sure?"

Koczak had finished in third place overall during the Encore Talent Productions National Dance Competition. Then, she participated in a dance-off to determine who would take home the top prize.

"We are so proud of her," said mom, Pamela. "She was on fire for the dance off."

She received a crown, a sash, a banner, and money for her dance studio - Center Stage Dance Company in Oxford and won four trophies throughout the weekend.

"I am proud of myself and really happy," Katie said.

One of the four trophies was "Most Entertaining" for her performance to "I Love You" - a special award. The judges explained Katie not only danced for them, but for the audience as well.

"When she dances her personality shines through," said Pamela. "When she dances she goes from a little kid to a ball of personality."

Katie doesn't wait until she is on the stage to dance - she is consistently moving.

"Katie dances everywhere even in the aisles at grocery stores," Pamela smiled. "She dances in her sleep. She will be in her bed - kicking and moving."

"I never stop moving," Katie added.

Katie dances at CSDC three days a week and practices her group and solo dances up to six hours a week. She is going into her fifth season with the studio.

She moved from Juniors to Intermediate this season. She performs tap, jazz, ballet and musical theater but likes tap the best.

"I have a lot of rhythm and it's really fun," she said.

She has also danced with Automotion, the Detroit Pistons Dance team, during half-time at a game because she was part of their dance clinic.

"It was fun but I was a little nervous," said Katie.

She also plays soccer, baseball, floor hockey, tennis and participates in cheerleading. She is part of the Recycling Club and Ski Club at school. Katie aspires to be a Rockette - if she can grow tall enough or perform on Broadway.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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