Director of the Purdue Bands
Alisha Kuckartz believes in enthusiasm, positivity and always wearing a smile as she coaches students, co-owns a dance studio and cares for three young children.
As director of the Purdue Bands Goldusters and Twirlers, Kuckartz helps her students develop as more than dancers and twirlers. She focuses on teaching lifelong practices such as problem solving, community service and setting goals to guide them during their time at the University and beyond.
How did you come to work at Purdue?
I grew up around this area and started attending Purdue games when I was 6. I don't remember this, but my parents say the first thing that caught my attention at games were the twirlers, cheerleaders and dancers, which is funny since I coach the Goldusters and twirlers now.
I studied English and Spanish education here. My freshman year I twirled on the twirling line. Then I spent three years as the Girl in Black and was the Golden Girl my last year. It was a goal for me to twirl at Purdue, so that was a highlight of my undergrad career. I started coaching here in 1999.
What do you do as a coach?
When it comes to coaching the girls, I target more than just dance and twirling skills. I give the girls the opportunity to read "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." The book helps them find creative ways to solve problems and set goals for their time post-Purdue.
We talk about outreach and giving back to the community. We focus on leadership and communication skills. They are very involved in the decision-making and take a lot of ownership in everything the team does. Each girl uses her talents and niche to contribute to the team.
What is your favorite part of coaching?
With coaching, it's not so much about watching the girls become better dancers or twirlers. It's about seeing them become better people. I get to see them transition into professionals and become better citizens who are active in their communities.
In 2010 you were recognized as one of Tippecanoe County's Top 10 under 40. How do you feel about being named one of the area's top young professionals?
I was so honored when they announced my name. I had no idea I had been chosen. It just reassured me that what I'm doing is valuable and makes a difference to people, especially young people. To me, teaching and inspiring a young person is worth more than thousands of dollars, and I have many opportunities to do that with my different roles.
How do you maintain your energy and positivity with such a busy schedule?
If there are times when I feel overwhelmed, I just think about how blessed I am to have three children and a supportive husband, to own my own business, to coach at a Big Ten university, to work with students and to do what I'm passionate about.
I don’t think of it as having three jobs. They’re my three joys.