Dance team coaches’ history with program helps elevate team


Courtesy photo of Goshockers

The passion for the Shocker dance program runs deep for Kate Stybr, head coach of the program and assistant coach Mara McElgunn. Both Stybr and McElgunn are in their first year as coaches for the dance team.

“It’s quite the experience being on the court at a Shocker game,” Stybr said. “I remember when  I was on the team it was so crazy just being in front of that many fans and being in center court and all the people that appreciate it and then hearing that applause [at] the end of your routine is just something that is unbeatable.  

Stybr was a part of the Shockers dance team from 2014-17. She was also the captain during her junior and senior year. Stybr was then asked by the head coach after she graduated to be an assistant coach.  

Stybr said the program has made some great improvements since she was on the team. One of her personal goals and the team’s goals was to get back to the national competition in April.  

“We’ve gotten a lot more opportunities to do things throughout the years,” Stybr said. “Since COVID we haven’t really had the opportunity to get to nationals due to budgeting and COVID procedures and all that.” 

Stybr’s connection with the Shocker’s runs deep enough that she was even her younger sister’s coach for two seasons. 

Now Stybr’s sister, Emily Stybr, is a volunteer assistant coach for the team. Kate said that Emily is an asset to the coaching staff. 

“Becoming her coach was definitely a difficult transition because as sisters you know we fight but five seconds later we are immediately fine again,” Stybr said. “We ended up figuring it out.”

McElgunn said that she and Stybr have developed a good relationship as friends despite Stybr being her boss. 

“At the same time we can joke around and have a good time because we do spend a lot of time together,” McElgunn said. 

McElgunn did not dance for the Shockers dance team but she said that she always wanted to be a part of their program since she was young. Both of her older sisters danced for the team during the 2007-09 and 2013-16 seasons. 

“Definitely my sisters dancing at Wichita State sparked a huge interest in the team for me,”McElgunn said. 

McElgunn ultimately decided to try out for Kansas State’s dance team because she wanted to move away from home for a bit. She said she had a coach at Kansas State that she looked up to and inspired her to be a coach. 

“I know that the impact a coach has on a dancer or any athlete really is huge,” McElgunn said. 

Stybr and McElgunn’s paths crossed before the start of the season. Stybr told McElgunn that she was looking for an assistant coach. Stybr said McElgunn’s experience from coming straight out of college has helped the Shockers with technique. 

“She has been a huge help this year,” Stybr said. “She really has an eye for choreography  and just seeing the vision of the performance that we have.” 

McElgunn said that the Shockers dance team sticks out compared to other programs because of their chemistry with one another. 

“Wichita State’s dance team has been through a lot together,” McElgunn said. “I feel that the relationships on this team are so close and personal.”