BY EVAN MOUNTAIN
I can’t wait to go to Tigers Spring Training!
A few weeks ago I booked my flight for Florida. Spring Training, Detroit Tigers, 2015. Yes, I’ll be there.
As a Detroiter born and bred, I can hardly believe that at this point in my career, I am going to Spring Training with the Detroit Tigers.
Lada and I, Yulia and Sergio, are headed South in late March for Lakeland to dance with the ball players when they’re not warming up on the field. And that’s because a crucial part of our business model is partnering with impressive organizations like the Tigers, to use ballroom dance for the greater good.
In this case, it’s Dancing with the All Stars, to benefit Jack’s Place for Autism. This year marks our third summer dancing with the Tigers to raise money, and awareness, for a cause that’s near and dear to their hearts.
Jack’s Place for Autism is a charity for Tigers announcer and former player Jim Price and his wife Lisa, whose son Jack is autistic. People buy tickets to watch some of the Tiger wives, and some of the players themselves, put on a splendid show of ballroom dance, complete with energy and costume and big, splendid smiles.
I’ve always loved this collaboration, not least because I get to hang out with big-name baseball players. They come to our dance studio, I hang out in their neck of the woods, but this will be the first time I will witness Spring Training from the inside – and this time, as the authority figure to these great athletes. They’re looking to us for direction on dance.
So at Spring Training, there’s a day when all the wives arrive and the players and their spouses get together for team-building. It’s an opportunity to talk about some of their big charity events, and that’s where we come in.
Three players have already agreed to perform: Miguel Cabrera, Anibal Sanchez and his wife Anna and Jose Iglesias. When we’re in Florida in March, we plan to increase the number of “yesses” from the team.
Our partnership with the Detroit Tigers began in 2010, featuring Karie Dombrowski, wife of Tigers player Dave Dombrowski, as one of the spotlight celebrities at a local Dancing With the Stars-style event. She loved it so much that she asked if we could create a similar effort with the Tigers.
Fast forward to 2011, which was our first Dancing with the All Stars. Our second took place in 2013. We sell tickets to raise money for the cause, and people come to get a glimpse of their favorite team out of uniform and on the parquet.
It’s a really spectacular idea. And a wonderful event.
So I get to go down to Spring Training and have some fun with my team. I get to convince them that it’s easy to ballroom dance, and it’s fun, and if they join us, they’ll have a great time.
Kind of like I do every day with all the people out there who are curious about stepping a foot onto the dance floor but a little bit nervous, too.