Lauren Jamieson and Alyssa Dowd. Softball and Dance. A unique combination. From the June LCS magazine.
At first glance, the two activities seem so incredibly far removed from each other but when you look closer, they may have more in common than one might think.
Senior Lauren Jamieson and sophomore Alyssa Dowd were key players in the Torrington softball team’s run to a spot in the Class L State Championship game earlier this June.
Jamieson was the team’s steady shortstop while Dowd was behind the plate handling the catching duties for head coach Maryann Musselman.
Both were hard-nosed, not afraid to get dirty kind of players who left it all out on the field every time they played.
It was their second passion that caught my eye because it’s not necessarily one you might jump to when thinking of another activity softball players might gravitate to but both have become established dancers off the field.
Jamieson has been dancing since the age of four and began, as many do, because of a family member who had performed both themselves, her sister Nicole who was a standout herself for the Raiders at second base while dancing.
The graduated senior, who will attend Fairfield University this fall, dances at Deborah’s Dance Workshop on Winsted Road in Torrington and has taken many different disciplines along the way.
“I have taken lyrical, contemporary, jazz, acro, musical theatre, hip hop and ballet,” Jamieson said. “Contemporary is one of my favorites.”
Working off an overflowing plate of activities takes a certain skill and discipline, something both girls have and talked about.
“Balancing school, softball and dance is challenging,” Jamieson said. “But I manage it the best I can. I make sure I set aside time for homework because school, is my top priority but I tend to have to run from softball to dance a couple of nights a week.”
I remember that after a game in which Jamieson was the hitting star for the Raiders when I attempted to do an interview with the standout (who was consistently in nearly every Raider rally) who politely told me she had to head to dance right away.
The juggle is never easy but both student/athletes do it remarkably well.
“Balancing all of them has been so hard,” Dowd said. “especially since high school started. I’ve had to talk between coaches or teachers about how we can compromise. I’ve been told that I had to choose between softball and dance but knowing I could never do that, I limited myself in each.
I’ll go to school, then a game, then to dance afterward. I get home at 9:30 and finish my homework. I’ve had a 4.0 GPA for the past two years of high school which has been tough but helped keep my priorities straight.”
Dowd has been dancing since she was three years old and was also motivated by older sister Ashley’s involvement in the dance field.
The soon to be junior perfects her craft at the Dream Believe Achieve Dance studio in New Hartford and has performed at Avon High School, a couple of competitions, nursing homes and this year, the Warner Theatre, a huge venue at which both athletes have performed.
Some of the best softball players are often the most graceful, making what they do look effortless, something Jamieson says was helped by her second passion.
“Dance has definitely helped me with sports because I believe that’s where my agility and balance comes from,” Jamieson said. “Dance has taught me to always believe in myself and have confidence no matter what. It builds strength, stamina and passion and that’s what I take with me though all sports.”
Dowd, who caught one of the best pitchers in the state in Ali DuBois, who will be heading to Boston University this fall, developed into a leader from her position behind the dish this year with strong instincts and a knack for the game. She has taken dance lessons in lyrical, jazz, hip hop and contemporary.
She see’s similarities between the two activities.
“In some ways, there are similarities,” Dowd said. “they both require such technique, and they’re both huge commitments. However, there’s a lot more delicacy in dance, as one would assume. I’ve gone to a softball tournament, driven to my dance competition, competed and went back to the softball tournament to play more games. The difference between the two made for a really enjoyable day.”
Asked the question of what the top highlight has been on the dance floor, each performer pointed to very personal experiences that have stuck with them over their respective careers.
“My best experience with dance so far has been receiving the ‘Doris Casey Memorial Scholarship’ last year,” Jamieson said.
The award is presented to a dancer “for possessing a genuine quality and total dedication in all you set out to achieve and for being beautiful inside out.”
Being honored in this way thrilled Jamieson.
“Every year, my dance teachers pick four or five different students to receive a variety of scholarships,” Jamieson said. “I never thought I would receive one. By receiving the award, it made me realize that she (her teacher) believed in me and it made me believe in myself. It was such an honor and I will carry that with me for the rest of my life.”
Dowd recalled a pair of moments that have stuck with her over the past two years.
“I’ve had so many remarkable experiences,” Dowd said. “Two within the last two years would be my solos. My first was about my father being a cop, this year is about soldiers in the military. I got first place in my dance about my dad and a Judges award in honor of the soldiers. I also got to contact soldiers and to perform in front of veterans at a nursing home. Times like those are why I would never be able to stop dancing.”
Moving to the next level will be a change for Jamieson who has a hard time seeing her life without dancing being part of it.
“I have thought about joining my dance team at college,” Jamieson said. “Because dance has been a part of my life for fourteen years. It’s going to be strange not going there every week and see the people I have known for so long. I have made some of my best friends there and have met some of the most influential people in my life. We’re all one big family.”
Dowd still has two seasons left at THS on the softball diamond and on the dance floor but is already looking ahead.
“I plan on playing softball in college,” Dowd said. “But professionally dancing is most likely not in my future. I believe I’ll still dance in college, just not on a team.”
One thing is for certain, these two Raiders will be superior at time management in their certain to be bright futures based on how well they have juggled two major commitments during their high school careers.