SURGOINSVILLE – It was a bittersweet weekend for the Surgoinsville-based Tennessee Hoedowners this past Friday and Saturday as they reached the top of the competitive clogging mountain for the second time — but without their founder and biggest fan.
Better known to many as a longtime Hawkins County construction contractor and Industrial Board member, Terry Glass also founded the Tennessee Hoedowners clogging team more than 30 years ago.
Glass was with the Hoedowners two years ago in Knoxville when they became the first clogging team to sweep the individual national championship categories and the annual Clogging Champions of America Showdown of Champions (CCASC).
Sadly, Glass passed away on Jan. 7 at the age of 73, just 10 days before the Hoedowners were scheduled to return to Knoxville to once again compete against the best cloggers in the world.
Glass' daughter-in-law Amy Glass, a former dancer and now the mother of a dancer, told the Times News on Thursday that Glass' death had an enormous effect on dancers the week leading up to the Showdown.
“After their first dance tears poured”
“Although they were mourning, the dancers worked harder than normal with a drive like never before,” Amy Glass said. “The day of his visitation they practiced from 10:00 to 3:00, took showers, and came to the visitation as a family. They knew they had to do this for not only Terry, but for (his daughter) Sherry (Cox), (wife) JoAnn and the kids. Of course the two grandsons were not able to attend the extra practices but they practiced at home and by video every moment they had.”
Glass added, “(Grandsons Gavin Cox and Austin Glass) were emotional all week and struggled with the first time they had to dance on stage without their papaw in the audience. After their first dance, tears poured as they knew they had managed to compete at the highest level through their hard emotions of the week. (Terry's wife) JoAnn came mid-day, before the dance-off. Her raw emotions and support of the kids drove them to dance their best.”
Prior to the competition, dancer Krista Christian pumped up the team.
“It means something to be a Hoedowner,” she said. “We are family. Dance like you want this for Terry and for the entire Glass family.”
And they did.
A slew of national titles
The Hoedowners came away from Knoxville Friday and Saturday with their second national title, as well as several individual titles.
On Friday, Terry’s two grandsons, Gavin Cox and Austin Glass, walked away with the title of Overall Grand Champion Challenge Male Soloist (Cox) and second runner-up Overall Challenge Male (Glass).
Overall Grand Champion A capella Soloist went to Surgoinsville’s Alyssia Smith, while Maddie Crowder came home with second runner-up in the overall dance-off for A capella.
Gavin Cox and Abby Simpson won the title of Overall Grand Champion Duo/Duet.
Saturday's competition was set aside for team dances, and the Hoedowners once again earned multiple titles.
The Amateur Adults were awarded Overall Amateur Senior Small team.
The young adults were awarded Overall Challenge Precision, Exhibition and Moving Line.
The Challenge Juniors won overall small team and walked away with the National title of Overall Grand Champion Challenge Junior Contemporary team.
The Amateur Junior team came home with its first ever national titles.
They won the National title of Overall Grand Champion Amateur Traditional team as well as the title of Overall Amateur Senior Contemporary team.
The biggest award was yet to come
Clogging Champions of America always names an All Pro team for the next year that is comprised of the top dancers in the nation. Three Hoedowners were named to that team: Austin Glass, Abby Simpson and Amy Hewitt.
But the biggest award of the night, at least to the Glass family, was for the member there in spirit.
Terry Glass was posthumously awarded the Legend Award, which was accepted by his wife of 51 years, JoAnn, and the entire Glass family.
Clogging Champions of America President Lynne Ogle stated that Glass was involved with clogging for more than 30 years and worked with multiple organizations to improve the quality of competitions throughout the nation.
Ogle said Glass was, “A mover and shaker in the world of clogging and his legacy with continue with his own grandchild and his clogging family, the Tennessee Hoedowners.”
“We cry together, we laugh together”
The magnitude of the weekend wasn't lost on team members.
“We work so hard, each and every day,” said 16-year-old Abby Simpson. “I am at the studio most days as soon as I get out of school and stay until 9 or 10 o’clock. It’s hard work. We cry together, we laugh together, and this weekend we won together. It was an amazing feeling to know that all that hard work paid off at a national level.”
Dancer Reagan Skelton, 16, added, “This weekend seemed like a dream. I never thought I would be a national champion, much less a two-time national champion.”
The coaches include Sherry Cox (studio owner), Abby Simpson, Kelly McKinley and Kendra Hale.
“He truly loved each dancer”
“Thank you to the CCA for the legacy award for my daddy,” Cox stated in a Facebook post. “He truly loved each dancer and loved the sport of clogging more than anyone could imagine. You find out in situations like these who your true friends and supporters are, and this weekend to all of those who were there, thank you for the support. This was the toughest weekend I have ever had, and my precious momma spent her first clogging competition without the love of her life. My mother truly is the strongest woman I know and thanks from the bottom of our hearts for honoring our dad.”