When Rochelle dancer Tatianna Contreras visited the North Central College campus, she felt right away that she belonged there.
Contreras also knew that she didn’t want her dance career to end, and after receiving some encouragement from her mother Tonia, the RTHS graduate decided to compete for a spot on the North Central College dance team this summer. Admittedly, Contreras said she didn’t think she performed her best, but after several days of waiting, she found out she would become a new member of the North Central College dance team.
“My mom really motivated me to try out for the team,” Contreras said. “She told me that I’ve been dancing for so long now that I shouldn’t stop now… When I first found out that I made the dance team, I was so excited and surprised because I didn’t think that I did my absolute best during tryouts.”
Contreras spent four years with the Rochelle Township High School dance program, helping the Chellettes reach the IHSA State Championships twice during that time. She said her experience going through tryouts at the high school level helped prepare her for what to expect when she went out for the North Central College team this summer.
“The tryout experience was somewhat similar to what I’ve experienced at high school,” Contreras said. “We practiced technique and we learned a routine before we tried out in groups. It was fun, but it was also a lot of work because they do things differently at North Central than what I’m used to.”
Contreras will be one of several RTHS student-athletes attending North Central College this coming year, joining football players James Hart, Will Jandak and Eddie Villalobos, who will also wrestle for the Cardinals. Contreras said she plans to study nursing and psychology in hopes of becoming a pediatric nurse.
“Dancing at RTHS helped me prepare for tryouts in so many ways, but it was mainly my coach Kass Smith who made me into the dancer I am today,” Contreras said. “She never let me give up on myself and she always pushed me to do better because she knew that I could. Without dancing at RTHS, I don’t think I would have made the team at NCC.”