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Come Dancing

March 10, 2010

by Jon Cooper, Associate Editor

ATLANTA — When it comes to footwork Georgia Tech assistant baseball coach Tom Kinkelaar qualifies as an expert, especially when it comes to the pitching mound.

Who knew that his pitching skill would someday make him a good dancer?

Kinkelaar is preparing to show how good when he takes part in “Dancing Stars of Atlanta,” a competition similar to the ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars,” that will take place on May 16 at The Foundry at Puritan Mill. All the proceeds from the event will go to the Alzheimer’s Association.

“I’ve always enjoyed dancing but I’ve never done anything like this partner-wise,” said the 54-year-old Kinkelaar, who credits Tech third baseman Matt Skole’s grandmother, who is involved with the Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and mother for getting him involved.

“I’m stepping out of my comfort zone a little bit, but it’s for a good cause,” he added, admitting that he’s quite familiar with the competition’s format having watched the ABC show.

His partner, Virginia Coker, an instructor at Daza Dance Academy in Alpharetta and an oft-decorated professional dancer, actually feels that Kinkelaar isn’t as far out of his comfort zone as he thinks and is not your average novice. His playing days as a pitcher are actually advantageous.

“He has great balance, muscle control, he has a really good sense of his body and really good posture,” said Coker. “All of those things people strive years to perfect. He already has it makes us at a great advantage.”

Though his training is in its early stages — he’s had three lessons lasting in the range of 45 minutes to an hour — Kinkelaar says he already has developed a greater appreciation for participants in “Dancing With The Stars.”

“I’ve had some lessons now. It’s not easy,” he said. “I respect what those people have to do.

“I think it’s progressing well, but it’s demanding,” he added. “I work up a good sweat. It’s basically getting your body acclimated, your weight distribution, different turns and things like that. We’re starting to put together what we’re actually going to do for a routine. She’s been teaching me some of the basic steps first, seeing what things I can’t do. Now we’re starting to put the routine together.”

For their performance, the pair will dance a “Smooth Waltz,” to the song “I Am Kissing You (Love Theme From Romeo and Juliet),” by Des’ree.

“She seems to think that the dance she’s choosing for us will be different than what everyone else does, more challenging I guess,” he said. “It could have a good influence on the judges.”

Smooth waltz is unique and not what people might expect from a waltz. Coker explained the difference.

“The international classic waltz, tango, fox trot, [the dancers] don’t separate,” she said. “They maintain body contact throughout the whole thing. It’s the classic, really aggressive, it’s what everybody has probably seen all their lives. The American moves, you can separate, you can do lifts, you can do counterbalance, all sorts of things. You can let go of your partner, it’s a more open style.”

The competition includes Atlanta Falcons defensive end Kory Biermann, “Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Sheree Whitfield and local singer-songwriter Cindy Lou Harrington. Kinkelaar said he doesn’t know much about his competitors, something that will change following a meet-and-greet Thursday evening.

He expects the event to be fun and, considering the cause, is willing check his ego at the door and leave it all on the dance floor. He’s even willing to live with the eventual ribbing he’s sure to get from the team.

“It’s still kind of new, but I’m sure as it gets closer I’m going to be getting some stuff from the guys,” he said. “I hope I don’t embarrass myself, but it is a great cause and anything I can do to help, that’s why I’m doing it.”

For more information on the event or to make a contribution on behalf of Coach Kinkelaar, visit

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