From the time she joined the Harlan County High School dance team as a freshman, Bailey McHargue was already looking ahead.
“From Day 1 she set her goals on becoming a member of the University of Kentucky dance team,” said McHargue’s mother and coach, Tami Brock. “All four years of high school, she never really considered doing anything else or going anywhere else. It’s always been UK dance for her.”
McHargue achieved that goal this spring when she was selected for the squad. She received an invitation to try out for the team after attending a college prep camp. Tryouts were the first weekend in May and included a personal interview, appearance evaluation, technical elements of dance and hip hop tricks.
“The tryout process was long and tiring. It wasn’t just about showing up that weekend and keeping my fingers crossed that I would make it. It took a lot of preparation and dedication to even get to the tryouts,” McHargue said.
McHargue experienced several challenges during the tryout process.
“The first night was really just a choreography camp where we learned the dance that we would be performing in front of judges on Sunday. I felt like I did really well during the interview and with the fight song on Saturday’s judging. But I think it was Sunday’s hip hop dance performance that made me feel the most confident. That evening riding home, Mom and I talked. As cliche’ as it sounds, I knew I had done my very best and that was all any of us could ask for,” she said.
“I had to wait two days before receiving an email on Tuesday evening, announcing my selection to the team. I was downstairs in my bedroom when I checked my mail on my phone. As soon as I saw the ‘congratulations’ flashing on the screen, I knew it was good news. I started screaming and hollering for my mom. It was a wonderful feeling.”
“I’m very proud of Bailey. It was a pleasure to coach her in her beginning years,” said former HCHS dance team coach Lonna Bledsoe. “She showed a lot of promise, even as a freshman. She was a fast learner and always willing to help. I knew she would grow and develop into a wonderful dancer. I wish her much success in her future endeavors as a UK dancer.”
Brock, also an English teacher at HCHS, took over as coach two years ago.
“The past two years we really upped our private lessons and practice. Bailey began training at home, too. There she ran, stretched, practiced gymnastics and skills nearly everyday,” Brock said. “I am so proud that she was rewarded for all of her hard work.”
McHargue will begin practice with the UK dance team on July 19.
“I really hope that I am able to represent not just Harlan County, but all of southeastern Kentucky in a positive manner,” McHargue said. “The experiences I had as a student and athlete at Harlan County High School have helped prepare me for my next step at UK and as a member of the UK Dance Team. I am so excited to pursue my dream of dancing in college, not just at any school, but as a UK Wildcat.”