FORT MILL — As the principal at Pleasant Knoll Elementary School, Grey Young knows the importance of middle school athletics.
Young, a Fort Mill native, was assistant principal and athletic director at Springfield Middle School for seven years and a teacher and coach at Fort Mill High School for five years. That’s why he didn’t hesitate to volunteer to help support middle school sports programs by becoming a contestant in the third annual Dancing With the Stars - Fort Mill fundraiser.
He was on the front lines when school budgets were slashed as revenue from the state decreased drastically a few years ago. In Fort Mill, one of the casualties was middle school sports, which have since become self-funded through a parent-run booster organization.
“The parents stood up real quick,” Young said.
The school district still funnels some money to the middle school sports programs when its available, but the boosters and the donors they attract keep the programs intact year-to-year.
Young and his wife Tracy have two children, Harper, 6, and Mac, 3. He hopes they will be able to participate in athletics when they reach middle school.
“I want to make sure middle school sports are still around,” he said. “I felt this was a way I could give back.”
He is coming into this event with no dancing experience outside of a few weddings. He said he is looking forward to learning to dance.
“I never realized how hard it was, but it’s a lot of fun,” he said.
Young’s partner, Aubrie Salzman, an independent dance instructor, graduated from Winthrop University with a degree in nutrition and a minor in dance. In her 19 years of dancing, Salzman has been trained in a variety of dance styles, including modern, tap, ballet, ballroom and salsa.
“It’s great I can support my community through dance,” Salzman said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity.”
Salzman, a salsa instructor and performer in Charlotte, said she enjoys expressing herself through dance and teaching others.
“It connects you with other people,” she said.
Salzman put her teaching skills to use in getting Young ready for the competition. They have been practicing twice a week since the beginning of January.
“Grey has been awesome,” she said. “I’ve been surprised by how well he’s picked the movement up. I’m really proud of him.”
The pair hopes to gain sponsors through word of mouth.
“It’s about having fun,” Salzman said. “As long as you have a great time, the audience will too.”
Dancing With the Stars - Fort Mill will be held 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Glennon Community Center in Tega Cay.