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Dance Team: 'Kick it for Katie'

MINNEAPOLIS — Dance with the stars and fly with the angels.

This statement proved to be both a heartbreaking reminder of what the Lake City Dance Team had lost this season and a motivation to succeed in honor of a fallen teammate.

On June 8, 2016, Katie Goihl went to the doctor because of fatigue and growing pains.

When the diagnosis came back, Goihl found out she had chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Goihl was diagnosed on a Wednesday. By Saturday, Goihl, 15, had passed away.

A community grieved over Goihl, who had just finished her freshman year at Lincoln High School. Her teammates on the Tiger dance team got flowers for the funeral and made a poster that said, “Dance with the stars and fly with the angels.” And through the pain, the team had something to compete for, even on the hardest days of the season.

“It happened so fast that we didn’t even know what to do at first,” said Lake City sophomore Lindsey Fick. “We just kept saying it every day, ‘Kick it for Katie.’ If you’re not doing it for yourself, do it for Katie.”

With others grieving their lost friend, the dance team saw an influx of girls who wanted to join in honor of Goihl.

“It was really cool just to see so many people come together, and not only in the community, but on our team,” said senior Grace Weinrich. “We were closer because of it. We dedicated our home competition to her and I thought it was a great idea to show our support to her because she was such a strong member of our team.”

On that Feb. 4 meet, two days after what would have been Goihl’s 16th birthday, the Tigers named the event “Kick for Katie,” in an effort to raise money for leukemia research.

It also helped family members deal with their loss. Dance was important to Goihl and the family continued to come to meets during the season. On Katie’s birthday, her mom brought the team a birthday cake to celebrate the life of a daughter and a teammate.

“It was really amazing just to see all the teams come together (at the home meet),” Fick said. “They didn’t know who she was. She was just a stranger to them. But she was super close to her team and it really helped the family get through the day. Katie’s family knows how much dance meant to her. And it helped the team get through the day knowing she’s dancing with us.”

Lake City head coach Ashley Otterson added, “When tragedy happens, the dance community comes together.”

Heavy hearts couldn’t slow down the Tigers as they won the Section 1A High Kick title, clinching a state berth. Then on Saturday, Lake City placed ninth. They missed the finals, but had one of their strongest performances of the year on the state stage.

“They’re strong girls and they are all amazing girls,” Otterson said. “They put their hearts into it and they just do so great.”

While the Tigers were on the hardwood floor of state, team members said they felt like Goihl was taking the choreographed steps with them.

“We put our best dance out there,” said sophomore Deidra Lutjen. “She was totally dancing with us the entire time.”

Weinrich summed it up, saying, “She was with us today.”

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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