Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins always has embraced challenges, but this, admittedly, has been a bit out of her comfort zone.
Still, she has thoroughly enjoyed her new endeavor — ballroom dancing.
Hutchins has been taking weekly lessons at Arthur Murray to prepare for “Dancing With the Michigan Stars” on March 30 at the Kensington Hotel in Ann Arbor. The event, which also will feature among others, former Michigan football players Jamie Morris and Andy Mignery, former Michigan basketball player Dugan Fife and his wife, Katie, and the Wolverines Trooper, benefits the ChadTough Foundation. Sarah Harbaugh is among the judges
“It’s fun,” Hutchins said. “I am enjoying it very much. It’s a whole world out of my element. It’s been really fun to put that round peg in the square hole and go there. I’ve had a good attitude, but my expectations aren’t very high.”
She will dance the “Lindy Hop” with her instructor she only knows as “Dave” during the competition. They practice on Mondays for 45 minutes when the softball team is off.
“I’m fully present when I get there,” said Hutchins, softball’s winningest coach who reached 1,500 wins last weekend. “It takes a while sometimes. It’s good distraction, but it hasn’t distracted me from my job in case anyone thinks that. In fact, I think it helps me.
“It makes me more patient — I don’t think my kids would say that. It’s helped me understand when people don’t get things right away.”
Hutchins said she was guilty of thinking too much when she started dancing.
“My dance instructor the very first night taught me a really easy step and we started dancing,” she said. “He said, ‘Let’s do this,’ and he started asking me a whole bunch of questions and he had me talking the whole time. I knew what he was doing, and he said, ‘See, you’re not thinking about it.’ I’ve used the tactic at practice when they’re hitting. I get them talking so they don’t focus on the mechanics.”
The ChadTough Foundation was created by Tammi and Jason Carr to honor their son, who was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an inoperable brain tumor in children.
Chad was 5 when he died in November 2015. Money raised by the foundation is dedicated to DIPG research.
Hutchins and the Michigan softball team were especially close to Chad, and while she is willing to go out of her comfort zone to learn to dance, she has drawn the line when it comes to her costume.
“I’ll do anything for ChadTough except wear one of those costume dresses,” Hutchins said, laughing, adding she doesn’t have a problem with a regular dress for the competition. “I don’t mind getting out of character, but I’m not wearing one of those dresses.”
For tickets or to make a donation, call (734) 995-9500.