Tag Archives: Floyds Knobs

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Welcome Home | Sweet Stuff

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-5-23-39-pmThe Mint Julep by Murphy Homes Wins BDASI Home Expo’s People’s Choice Award

BY ANGIE FENTON

PHOTOS BY CIRCA PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY

CIRCA Professional Photography, which is based out of Jeffersonville, specializes in architectural and wedding photography. Learn more at circaimage.com, porchlightpics.com or by calling 502.552.9143.

And the winner is…

We’ll get to that in a moment. screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-5-23-48-pm

But first, if you missed out on the 2017 Building & Development Association of Southern Indiana (BDASI) Home Expo presented by River City Bank at Champions Pointe, here’s a quick recap: Thousands of people attended the multi-day event, which showcased the latest in housing trends at a brand-new section of the premier development situated on the beautiful backdrop of one of the resort-style golf courses designed and built by Southern Indiana’s own Fuzzy Zoeller, Masters and U.S. Open champion who won 10 PGA tour events and was the USGA golfer of the year in 1985.

Several awards were given, but the most coveted – the People’s Choice Award – was awarded to (drumroll, please!) The Mint Julep by Murphy Homes.

“Winning the award was our goal from the start of it,” said Chase Murphy, who co-owns Murphy Homes with his wife, Amy. “What it tells me is that we put out a superior product and that people who are shopping for a custom home builder, we’re going to be at the top of their list.”
screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-5-24-08-pmscreen-shot-2017-09-25-at-5-23-53-pmMurphy Homes, which is known for daring to be different, showcased an urban farmhouse design called The Mint Julep. Featuring beautiful Hardi Shaker siding and accented with a metal roof and white, sandy Coranado stone and three covered patios, it’s easy to see why this gorgeous abode was awarded the favorite.

The four-bedroom, four-bathroom home also boasts a welcoming foyer with wainscoting trim and old farmhouse-style glass window transom. The living room has soaring ceilings with ship lap trim accented with a hand-hewn beam, tons of board and batten trim and Mercury glass tile around the fireplace.
Additionally, the massive island acts as the centerpiece of the kitchen, and the master bedroom suite – with its marvelous bathroom – is to die for.

“The Mint Julep,” said Chase, “it’s kind of a melting pot of Pinterest and Houzz.” screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-5-24-02-pm
Again, the 2017 BDASI Home Expo People’s Choice Award means much, but so do the comments from customers. “The the best feedback is that people think I am approachable, easy to get a hold of, down to earth, easy to deal with and I don’t get rattled very easy,” Chase said. “Plus, we try to make it a fun process.”
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Murphy Homes

852 Highlander Point Drive

Floyds Knobs

812.595.2381

murphyhomes.org


 

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Infinity Homes Development Broker’s Open

March 10 • Andres Spring Farms in Floyds Knobs

Photos by Danny Alexander

Infinity Homes and Development hosted their Brokers’ Open March 10 at Andres Spring Farms in Floyds Knobs. Guests enjoyed cocktails, catering by Orange Clover, live music and a look at several new homes in the beautiful Southern Indiana development.

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(Clockwise from top left)  Rhonda Collins, Lacey Kimberlin, Leslie Smith, Sonya Broady and Angela Ross. | Courtney Hover and Stacie Thompson.  | Maria Granger
and Lisa Brown. |  Tammy Moore and Kayla Troutman. |  Justin Letterer.  |  Jason Schenider and Thomas R. Bellingham, Jr.

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The Face of Hope

Story by Steve Kaufman | Photos by Danny Alexander

John Bostock has brain cancer, so why does he feel like the luckiest man alive?

Nobody should have to say “glioblastoma” without the words tripping awkwardly out of their mouths. It’s a tough, tongue-twisting word, made all the more twisting by what it represents. In the past year since John Bostock was diagnosed with glioblastoma– an aggressive form of brain cancer – the word has become an everyday familiarity to John and wife Jessica, a young Floyds Knobs couple.extol_digitalcover_400x600_12

Glioblastoma is an aggressive form of cancer generally beginning in the brain. It has non-specific symptoms in its earliest stages, is almost always Grade Four by the time it’s detected and there appears to be no clear way to prevent the disease.

Only about three out of 100,000 people a year develop the disease, though most are usually in their 60s. Once diagnosed, the common life expectancy is 12 to 15 months. Less than five percent survive longer than five years.

John Bostock was 34 years old when his glioblastoma was discovered, in the summer of 2015. In that respect, he defies a few of the odds. He’s statistically too young. He’s supposed to be one of the 99.999997 percent who’d never even heard the word.

For him, it was like walking across a railroad track with no reason to think a train was coming right at him. In other words, not particularly lucky.

And yet, the other word John and Jessica say, frequently and convincingly, is “lucky.” As in, “We’re very, very lucky!”

Who says that? Lottery winners, maybe, or people who’d had a good week in Las Vegas.

“Lucky” is not the word you’d expect from a young couple with an infant daughter and a brand-new home-of-their-dreams farmhouse who were told, over an excruciating Fourth of July weekend, that the husband and father had this rare form of brain cancer and might have only six months to live.

No Time for Pity

Once John was diagnosed, there didn’t seem to be much time for self-pity. For one thing, the Bostocks knew they had a lot of work to do, starting immediately. For another, they had a daughter, Olive (who will be three in January), at home who needed their care and attention.

Plus, they faced an overwhelming program of radiation and chemotherapy treatments, doctors’ visits, grief counselors, paperwork, insurance forms and an unending overload of medical information. “It was all a blur,” Jessica says now.

But, they also had a wonderful support group of family members on both sides, who researched the disease, got involved in the driving and running and going that was involved, and kept up a steady flow of reassurance.

“I remember having conversations with my father-in-law,” recalled John, “and he said the goal is to bostock2prolong and extend this as far as we can, until new research or treatments hopefully might come along. There was never a feeling of ‘I’ll beat this’ so much as ‘let’s keep trying to prolong this.’ We’ll get through this today, and then we’ll get through tomorrow, and then the next tomorrow.”

“We were told that John might have six to 12 months to live,” said Jessica. “But we’re not the kind of people who crawl into our holes and cry each day.”

When Crying Came

Not that there wasn’t plenty of crying, too. “We all cried a lot and had horrible days and great days,” Jessica said. “I talked to my mom, honest conversations about what would happen in a couple of months if John weren’t around – insurance, jobs, money – not fun conversations.”

Coming to grips with unfairness? Not easy.

“But life’s not fair for a lot of people,” said Jessica, “and we have each other. It has given us a whole new definition of ‘fortunate.’ Small things don’t matter anymore. It completely changes your perspective on life.”

She said there were lots of evenings, sitting around watching TV, when she’d get up and go to her room to cry, so as not to upset John by breaking down in front of him. Later, she found out he was doing a lot of the same thing.

Learning About Radiation And Chemo

There was also the matter of getting right into the treatment plan. “When you get the glioblastoma diagnosis, your treatment plan is pretty much set in stone,” Jessica said. “There’s no ‘here’s what you could do.’ It’s, immediately, six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, every single day.”

“Radiation helps kill the remaining cells and the chemo keeps the tumor from coming back,” John explained. The surgery removed 99.2 percent of the cancer. The rest couldn’t be removed without risking brain damage. “I can live with that 0.8 percent tumor. The goal is to limit it to that.”

Blindsided By Fate

Limiting a tumor was hardly the goal in May 2006, when the two Floyds Knobs youngsters who had known each other since Floyd Central High School – introduced by families who were exceedingly close to each other – got married.

Nor was limiting the growth of cancer a goal in January 2014, when tiny Olive was born in difficult circumstances. There were other medical concerns then. “She came into the world 10 weeks early, weighing all of three pounds,” Jessica recalled. “We had had a hard time conceiving her, and I went into labor at just 26 weeks. I was in the hospital for a month on bed rest; she was in the hospital for six weeks. She came home weighing five pounds. This tiny little thing was a blessing, a miracle.”

Glioblastoma wasn’t in their vocabulary in the spring of 2015, when John began having migraine-type headaches he thought were from allergies.

He also recalls, retrospectively, that he had been having problems balancing the precise Medicare pricing calculations he was doing for Humana, where he worked. “Basic functions,” he says now, “but I could never get things to match. Very frustrating!”

He’d not had recurring headaches before, and these always came in the middle of the night, waking him up with all kinds of pressure, “but I took Advil or Excedrine Migraine and kept grinding through every day.”

Plus, Jessica said, “we went to all these places – a chiropractor and our regular family doctor – and nobody seemed concerned about it.”

Eventually, they went to a neurologist who put John on steroids, which helped for a week or two. “He told us, there were no signs that I needed any immediate tests, like a brain scan,” John said. “I’d had no history of headaches; he agreed it was probably migraines due to allergies.”

Then the headaches started coming back, and John started not making sense a lot of the time, frequently coming home from work at lunchtime in pain.

Rush To The ER

One Friday a year ago July, John came home for lunch, and Jessica left him something to eat before going out of the house.

“When I came home at night, he hadn’t remembered eating the lunch,” she said. “He was being unusually weird. I was upset and I insisted we go to the hospital right away. John’s mom, stepdad and I took him to the emergency room at Norton Downtown (in Louisville), and they took an MRI. The scan came back that there was a 5-centimeter mass on the right front of his brain.”

Neurosurgeon Todd Shanks performed the surgery on Monday.

Sharing Inspiration Jessica said they weren’t eager to talk to others about the condition once John got home and into his grueling set of treatments. “I guess I thought, ‘Who cares, this is our problem.’ But we did have friends and family who needed to know what was going on.”

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To keep that group informed, she found CaringBridge.com, a social networking web site that allows people to post blogs and exchange information, mostly about health and disease situations.

Jessica formed the John Bostock Journal – https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/johnbostock – with an intial entry dated July 5, 2015, that was simply headed, “Surgery”: “I totally forgot to mention that John’s surgery is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Probably between 2-4. Should last 3-4 hours and he should be in little pain afterwards. We will stay until Wednesday or Thursday and then will return home and will know much more about the treatment plan next week.”

What Jessica found was “we got such a warm and wonderful reaction from people I didn’t know. People said things like, ‘You don’t know how inspiring you are, how much we pray for you.’ It made us feel good. If our story can be an inspiration to anyone, how great is that?”

She said, “People tell us that when they complain about the weather or about their kids, they think about us, and that gives them perspective – and that’s amazing!”

Sometimes, said Jessica, “people think people with cancer talk about it all the time, but it’s completely the opposite. People say to us, ‘Oh, I don’t want to make you talk about it, you probably talk about it all the time.’ No! We don’t talk much to other people and, when we did, we found that was therapeutic.”

John agreed. “Sometimes you have to talk about it out loud, instead of just talking inside your own head. Sometimes we’re surprised by the answers.”

“We’re not scared of crying anymore,” said Jessica. “We’ve been doing this for 15 months. We’re not scared about reliving it.”

Finding Faith

The Bostocks also get great comfort from their church, Northside Christian Church in New Albany, which they had been attending for some time – “but we’ve never missed since John got diagnosed.”

“We probably took it for granted before,” Jessica said. “I have a relationship now with God that I didn’t know I could have.”

Keeping Olive Happy

That moment was much appreciated because John needed to be the same father that little Olive kept expecting him to be.

“After John’s diagnosis, it was Olive who made us get up every single day and put a smile on our face, because we had no other choice,” Jessica said. “And John’s being home and spending time with her made them so close. We’d go to the zoo, and then we took her to Disney World. It made her happy, and that made us happy.”

But, living a normal life was important for more than simply Olive. It was important to all of them. They credit much of this to Dr. Renato LaRocca, John’s oncologist.

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“He always says, ‘love hard, travel, drink wine,’ ” John said. “He tells me to eat healthy, but also have some red meat if we go to a steakhouse.”

“He says, ‘Live life to the fullest and enjoy yourself, you never know what tomorrow will bring,’ ” said Jessica. “It opens your eyes and your sense of things around you that you didn’t really pay attention to before.”

Dream House Deferred

At first, much of the focus of normal life was on the farmhouse the Bostocks had purchased, off of Paoli Pike in Floyds Knobs, just four weeks before John’s diagnosis.

“We love old houses, and this was our dream house,” said Jessica. “Lots of character, on a couple of acres. We were so excited – and then ‘boom!’ ”

Initially, she said, it was a great project to focus on, diving into it, keeping them busy, their minds occupied. Eventually, though, with John not working and with the determination to travel and take Olive to Disney World, they sold the house.

“For me at the time, with John having 12 months to live and not going back to work, it made sense to sell the farmhouse,” said Jessica. “The plan was to make the best of everything for him so we would regret nothing.”

Pills And Daddy’s Backpack

Without the farmhouse, the focus turned to all the treatment options that might keep John alive. Through John’s brother, Zach, a hospital administrator in Naples, Fla., who had worked at Jewish Hospital in Louisville for 13 years, they were plugged into a pipeline of information.

It was through oncologist LaRocca that John was approved for Temador, a “chemotherapy pill” specifically for glioblastoma that he takes every four weeks.

LaRocca also helped arrange for John to be fitted with a new device called a Optune, from Novocure, a kind of helmet specifically developed for glioblastoma (which you can see John wearing on this cover of Extol). It was still in the final testing stages, but LaRocca sent a request to Humana, and John was approved as a non-recurring tumor patient.

John explains: “It creates a ‘tumor treating field’ that confuses the cells, inhibiting them from rapidly dividing and regrowing. It forces them to turn into normal cells.”

There is a soft helmet-like device around John’s head and a power supply that’s strapped to his back. Developed by Novocure Ltd., a British oncology research company based on the Channel Island of Jersey, the first iteration weighed six pounds. The newer version, the one John wears, has been trimmed to a more comfortable 2.7 pounds. (The company explains it was able to reduce Optune’s size and weight “by utilizing novel digital signal generation technology.”) It received U.S. FDA approval this summer, but it has been available in Europe in 2015. John was fitted for his a year ago.

The Bostocks refer to it, cautiously, as “John’s life-prolonging device.” Olive calls it “daddy’s backpack.”

“The timing of this was practically a miracle,” said John, “in that it was approved at just the time we needed it. They still don’t have enough data to determine how this might change the prognosis long-term, though some preliminary data said it could prolong a patient’s life about a year past what the current diagnosis is.

“I’ve worn it a year, now. I will wear it for as long as I need to!”

What’s Ahead?

John, who admitted to a somewhat bumpy educational tenure the first time around – “I went back and forth between Ivy Tech Community College and Indiana University Southeast (IUS), getting an associate degree from Ivy Tech. I was a terrible student” – is back to taking online business classes at IUS in pursuit of his bachelor’s degree.

He said Humana is keeping the door open for him, should he decide he’s ready to return to work. “I’m teeter-tottering about going back.” Jessica, who had started at IUS, ended up going to hair school at The Hair Design School in Louisville. She now works at Angell Salon & Spa in Sellersburg.

John gets an MRI every 12 weeks. “The first couple of scans were apparently hard to read,” he said, “because the scar tissue from the surgery shows up white, just like the cancer cells.”

In early April, they were told his scan “was stable.” In July, there was evidence of “considerable shrinkage.” In September, “stable again – no change.”

“Stable is good,” they said, together.

“The doctors are happy where we are a year into all this chemo treatment,” said Jessica. “They’re happy with the way John lives his life, how regularly he wears his Optune, how proud they are of John going back to school.

“They’re mostly positive about the results of the bloodwork, the platelets are really good.”

The docs have been positive, she said, but they’ve also been honest. “We’ve shown we can take it and we can handle it. We just keep doing the same things. I want to know exactly where we stand, and I always ask the hard questions.”

Searching For Answers

Like a lot of 21st century questioners, Jessica and John also turned to the Internet for answers.

“The Internet can be a scary place,” said Jessica. “You read a lot of uplifting stories about cancer-sufferers who’ve beaten the odds, but then you run across the occasional story, too, like ‘My mom was told she had 18 months to live, but she died within six months.’ ”

Particularly frustrating for the Bostocks is that there’s no particular explanation for why John was hit with this.

“I have no medical history to speak of,” John said, “there was nothing like it in my family.”

“We did some research about living near a nuclear plant,” said Jessica. “For some reason, this area has a lot of glioblastoma – not just Southern Indiana, but also Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.” (Editor’s Note: Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee worked with nuclear reactors in the 1940s, during World War II.)

“They wanted me to take a survey to find some common things among all these glioblastoma patients,” said John. “There are no findings yet. I’d love to know.”

He mused that he used to drink from plastic cups, “but Jessica does too. We all the use the microwave oven.”

A Cluster Of Cancer

There are 22,000 diagnoses of glioblastoma a year, all of them Grade 4. “We found out that the mother of a friend I grew up with passed away a year ago,” said John. “When Jessica put it on Facebook, (the friend) reached out to us. And there’s a man who lives near us who also wears the Optune device. “So three of us within a few miles. Maybe we should move.”

A year ago, USA Today reported that the Indiana State Department of Health was asking the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate “a potential cluster of brain cancer cases.”

“State health officials started looking into concerns this summer that an unusually high number of people living in the same neighborhood in Henry County east of Indianapolis had been diagnosed with a type of brain cancer, known as glioblastoma, over the past 23 months,” said the article, dated Oct. 23, 2015. The article quoted state health commissioner Jerome Adams as saying, “We are listening closely to people’s concerns and methodically investigating these cases.”

Focusing Forward

For the most part, though, Jessica and John keep their focus clearly in front of them.

“John’s no longer on radiation, and he’s in the 13th month with this pill and wearing the Optune device,” Jessica said. Reviews of his progress will continue.

If John’s platelets get too low, the medication will likely have to be switched, but they say there are always other drugs in the pipeline or, because of where John’s tumor site was, perhaps there might be another surgery.

“At the end of the day, it’s all guesswork,” Jessica shrugged.

“Of course, that all might be 15 years down the road,” said John. “At that point, I’m winning.”

“If you were told you had a year left to live, think of all the things you’d do,” Jessica said. “We were told he had six months to live. It’s now been almost 17. This is our story and we can’t do anything about it. There’s no other way than to be positive about it. John and I have been given a gift. We get to look at life through a new lens, that of a cancer patient. We take nothing for granted and our hearts have expanded more than we can imagine over the past year. We are confident in knowing that our paths have already been carved, that God can bring silence to our busy minds and that we consider ourselves the luckiest people alive.”

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Dog Days at Sam’s

Photos by Tim Girton

Aug. 17 | Sam’s Food & Spirits in Floyd’s Knobs 

Dogs aren’t only fetch aficionados and card sharks – they’re socialites, too. At least this was the case on Aug. 17 at Sam’s Dog Days of Summer Cocktail Party, where pups and their pals alike mingled for a pleasant afternoon benefiting Southern Indiana Animal Rescue (SIAR). There’s nothing quite like refreshments with your best friend on the tail-end of summer. Many thanks to Annie Lou’s Pet Sitting Service for making and donating the sales of dog treats to SIAR and, especially, to Sam’s owner Sam Anderson for donating a portion of proceeds from sales made during the event to SIAR.

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(Clockwise from top left)

Barbara Haas and Anne Scherer with Xavier and Lucy | Getting acquainted | Koleton Freitas and Bentley | Missy Mitchell with Charlie | Tobi, Shepherd and Tanner Brinegar with Daisy | Becky Hand with Bean.

 

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SO SHARP.

by STACY THOMAS & photos by ANTONIO PANTOJA

Cover Vertical

Spend five minutes with Todd Sharp, and you’ll walk away knowing exactly who he is and where he stands.

“I’m an exacting coach,” said Sharp, head coach of the Floyd Central High School Dazzlers and University of Louisville Ladybirds, both national championship dance teams. “Some years are easier than others. There is no secret. There is absolutely nothing special. I decide to win. (And when it comes to being on his teams), it’s my way or the highway, but because we live in America, you are free to leave at any time.”

Yes, Sharp can be imposing and intimidating and demanding and – you get the idea.

But inside those first five minutes with him, you’ll also discover a wickedly funny and fiercely passionate person whose driving motivation is to help the young women he coaches excel in ways they’d never dreamed.

“I tell my girls: This is your time. You are not married, you are not yet mothers … you have this small window of time for yourself – to be an athlete and a performer. Seize this time for yourself and spend the rest of your life a champion.”

For the past 22 years, Sharp has been head coach of the Dazzlers. For the latter 15 of those 22 years, he has simultaneously served as head coach of the Ladybirds dance team as well as spirit coordinator for UofL. Under the guidance of Sharp, the Dazzlers have earned 24 state and national championships. In fact, his team of high school athletes have been both nationally and internationally recognized and televised more than any other high school team. The Ladybirds have earned 15 national championships, 13 of which have been under the reign of Coach Sharp.

“I find the process of coaching stressful, but I also love the process of coaching,” he said. “I have a competitive personality. I think I must be crazy to do it this long. The average career span for a coach is three seasons for high school and five years for college.”

While his career statistics alone prove him to be somewhat of an oddity in his field, his commitment and determination ensure he continues to remain on top.

“Todd didn’t just wake up one day as the most successful coach in his industry. He decided he was going to be the most successful coach in his industry,” said Patrick Mahoney, strength and conditioning coach for the Ladybirds and the Dazzlers, and a personal trainer at ProFormance Fitness in Louisville.

Mahoney met Sharp six years ago when the coach sought help getting in shape. Shortly after, Sharp asked Mahoney if he would start working with both of his teams on their strength and conditioning.

“We quickly became close friends. … He was actually the best man in my wedding,” Mahoney said. “Todd introduced me to my wife Rachel, who was a former Ladybird. He has become a big part of my life.”

Mahoney has witnessed Sharp’s continued success and credits some of it to his “ability to connect with each one of his athletes. … He genuinely cares and wants success for them. If you are able to make it through one of Todd’s programs, then you are that much more prepared for the real world. You should consider yourself lucky to be coached by Todd Sharp. For those of us fortunate enough to have him as a friend, we consider ourselves lucky too.”

 

‘A Gentle Tyrant’

Sharp, who is now 47, began his career at age 25. A native of Floyds Knobs, he graduated from Floyd Central, specializing – unsurprisingly – in musical theatre and was naturally drawn to the arts.

“I knew someone that helped coach the Dazzlers. I was approached to help them with a routine. This originally was supposed to be a one-time thing,” Sharp recalled. “Eventually, a position opened up, and it was suggested that I apply, and the rest is history. I thought maybe I would coach for a year or two. Twenty years later, this is one of the greatest things that has happened to me. I think it keeps me young,” he laughed.

It’s also allowed Sharp to finally find a place where he feels like he belongs.

“I have never quite fit in anywhere. Coaching became a home to me and my soul,” Sharp said. “It is the only thing in my life that I have felt that I’m good at. Coaching has been the greatest burden and one of the greatest joys in my life. … That moment in the Disney Fieldhouse in front of 20,000 people – televised to the nation and they announce our team as the National Champions – is a wonderful moment.”

That’s a moment Sharp has experienced multiple times, but he never forgets what the converse feels like.

In those sparse years when his teams have not won a title, the guilt he experiences is overwhelming. “It’s my biggest fear … that my team feels that all of the hard work they put in wasn’t worth it. For myself, it haunts me that I did not beat my own record.”

For others, Sharp’s successes remain at the forefront when they think of him.

“He’s the master. I can’t imagine a national championship under anyone else. He won 10 straight! That’s unheard of,” said Janie Whaley, Floyd Central High School principal. “If you watch the Dazzlers, you know why they are some of the best athletes in the school. Todd is a gentle tyrant, a perfectionist. He has a standard and sets the bar high. He works 12 months out of the year and never stops. His success is contagious. It has encouraged others to be more successful.” 

 

‘Success in Many Forms’

A9Roor40u_8rupkk_7dgIn those first few years of coaching the Dazzlers, Sharp opened Planet Dance Studio in Louisville, eventually relocating to its current location in Georgetown.

“Planet Dance was born out of necessity as a practice and training space,” said Sharp. “I needed consistent and frequent practice space for my team of athletes. My girls work and train hard. They are not merely dancers, they are athletes. I thought if the football and basketball teams had their own regular practice space, my team deserved one too.” (And practice they do, sometimes as much as five days per week, and in the summer months, too.)

Planet Dance All-Stars is now a competition dance studio for students ages 3 years to collegiate. The studio also trains dancers for Highland Hills Middle School in Georgetown and is the permanent training home for the Dazzlers and the Ladybirds.

Charlotte Ipsan and her husband, Rob, are Sharp’s business partners at the studio. She met Sharp 13 years ago at Polly’s Freeze in Edwardsville.

“I was standing in line to get ice cream with my then 3-year-old, and Todd starts his pitch. He knew of me as a former Floyd Central Dazzler and asked where my daughter, Emrie, went to dance,” Ipsan recalled. Shortly thereafter, I found myself with Emrie registering for the Mini All-Star team at Planet Dance. I was mesmerized by Todd’s unprecedented passion and uncanny ability to create successful dancers with or without physical talent.”

A couple of years after their initial meeting, Sharp faced some tough business decisions, one of which was to potentially close Planet Dance. Sharp approached the Ipsans to brainstorm options. Less than 30 days later, they were business partners.

“People questioned our combination of amazing dance coach (Sharp) plus neonatal nurse practitioner and health care administrator (Ipsan), but Todd, my husband and I all agreed on one thing: success comes in many forms at Planet Dance. We recognize and stress the importance of teamwork, confidence and personal development.”

Ipsan’s daughter, Emrie, now 16, is in her third year as a Dazzler, and has been on the Planet Dance All-Star team since the age of 3. Sharp has been her coach for the last 13 years.

“Todd’s ability to take any dancer who has passion, drive and work ethic and transform them into a fierce competitor with the utmost regard for team dynamics and compassion is absolutely magical. He knows how hard to push, when to push, and exactly how to push individuals to get the absolute best out of each student,” Charlotte Ipsan said. “There is never a moment that you question his style. Plus, he is the funniest human being I know.”

Friendships with people like the Ipsans aren’t unusual for Sharp.

“Some of the greatest friendships I have are the parents of students I have coached through the years,” he said. “Some have multiple daughters come through my programs. As our relationships have developed, they have become more like a family to me. I’ve helped raise some of these kids. I’m often with them five days a week plus weekends.”

A third of the way through his career with the Dazzlers, Sharp was approached by the University of Louisville and asked to coach the Ladybirds.

“I was extremely blessed and lucky to have been offered a job at a university locally,” said Sharp. “Most of my counterparts moved to other states for collegiate positions. Some of them (are) my former students.”

In addition to his coaching duties, Sharp is also UofL’s spirit coordinator – he organizes games and schedules social appearances and monitors grades for the Ladybirds. (“Unlike other coaches, I do not have paid assistants,” said Sharp. Our schedule is crazy, but when someone calls who is batting leukemia and they want the Ladybirds to visit their hospital room, I can’t say no. I try not to ever say no.”)

“Todd’s love of UofL and our spirit teams transcends his career,” said Christine Simatacolos, senior associate athletic director.

“He is one of the most caring people I know. He is a coach and a friend 24/7. He is always working, thinking and dreaming about his program and how it can be the best,” Simatacolos said. He is also constantly developing relationships with his athletes, parents and administrators. He could not have accomplished what he has without the support system he has created. Todd works hard but makes it fun. Everyone around him senses his energy and spunk and wants to be a part of it. UofL is fortunate to have him as an ambassador of our athletic department and university.”

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‘More Rewards, Challenges’

So what does it take to be coached by Sharp?

Anyone can have an opportunity to make his teams, Sharp said, and rarely is anyone cut from tryouts. “We are hard enough on each other in this world, it is not hard to make my teams.”

But making a team and staying on a team are two different things.

If you want to learn, get coached and have the grades to make it, you will have no trouble in Coach Sharp’s program, but this does not mean it will be easy.

“I believe in accountability. If a girl does not look her best or perform her best, we all lose. There is no justice like team justice. I tell my team and their families in the very beginning, this will be the hardest thing you have ever done. This experience on my team will be physically, mentally, emotionally and financially hard,” he said. “I have zero tolerance for fighting – this goes for parents, too. The tail will not wag the dog. This team is not a democracy; it’s a dictatorship. I want girls on my teams that have the passion, raw talent and desire to be there.”

Although the Dazzlers and the Ladybirds are both iconic programs, “Every year the dynamic changes,” Sharp said. “I set my intentions and standards high and build it from the ground up – every year. But, I do not ask of my team more than I am willing to do myself.”

Over the last decade, Sharp has felt a shift in his coaching. “When I was 25, I felt it was easier for the team to relate to me. We were closer in age. Every year, this job becomes more rewarding and more challenging. I have a coach and a trainer now. Working out has definitely raised both my credibility and my expectations. I think I am a better coach now at 47 than I was at 27. I love coaching, and the kids crave having a coach.”

They also appreciate Sharp’s willingness to go to the mat for each and every one of them, provided they respond by working hard.

“I am a champion of women,” he said. “I make the girls train in strength and conditioning. I am very controlling about their personal appearance. These girls are beautiful inside and out. People are quick to diminish them because of their appearance. My girls are very smart, good girls who graduate with phenomenal GPAs.”

Sharp continued, “Here we are in this small pocket of Indiana, we are perennial champions. No one is more athletic than this team. No one can out jump this team. This team from Southern Indiana won in the hip-hop division. It’s pretty incredible to think about, really. People that say we are just dancers and not athletes have never watched us, either one of my teams. The Ladybirds have been on ESPN. They have the stamina and speed of any sport. We are the perfect combination of art and sport.”

 

‘Personal Toll, Gain’

In the last two years, his spirit program has not been the only thing Sharp has re-built from the ground up. After 24 years of marriage and two sons (Cameron, 22; Colin, 19), he and his wife Lisa divorced.

“I don’t know a head coach whose personal relationships have not been incredibly challenging,” said Sharp. “This is a lifestyle-driven profession that can be detrimental to personal relationships. … This lifestyle is not for everyone.”

Now single, Sharp describes himself as affectionate, emotional and co-dependent and said his biggest fear is not meeting someone, although he’s still not quite ready to do so yet.

“I not dating anyone exclusively. I don’t want to be disrespectful to Lisa, my children or my 24 years and seven months of marriage,” said Sharp. “In fact, I did not even consider dating sooner than two years after the divorce. In this community, I think the same is expected of me. Lisa and I still make decisions about everything together, and I’m not doing that to my kids. I’m a work in progress. I have a lot to offer. I hope to find love in the future. It sounds cliché, but life has a way of going where it is supposed to go.”

Sharp is a grandfather now to Chase, 22 months, and Charlotte, who’s 1 month old. “Being a grandfather has changed me a lot. The girls probably say I’m still rough, but I think the experience has made me more compassionate. I’m pretty happy now.”

While dating is on the backburner, Sharp has recently started a love affair of sorts with the city of New Albany. “It has been a slow movement, but I am excited about the changes and new businesses. I love River City Winery, The Exchange Pub + Kitchen and Dress & Dwell.”

A Southern Indiana boy at heart, Sharp also frequents the Frankfort Avenue/Crescent Hill neighborhood in Louisville. A self-proclaimed foodie who loves to cook, Sharp enjoys strolling the neighborhood for coffee or new restaurants with friends.

He also spends his down time with his grandkids and dog.  And, Sharp finds solace in working out. “Don’t get me wrong, I still like my Mellow Mushroom pizza and beer, but if I go one day without my workout, I feel off.”

Sharp used to focus on the negative and found himself unable to let go of things easily. He has since learned that letting go is one thing that you can control.

 

‘A Forest of Supporters’

A9R3dtet5_8rupkq_7dgMale dance and spirit coaches are rare in Southern Indiana, but they’re common on the west coast. In fact, the two national dance coaches with the most wins are both male (one of those being Sharp). But his success hasn’t always shut down naysayers.

“I used to let negative comments about my team of myself bother me,” Sharp said. “I simply re-focused my energy. I was looking past a forest of supporters to get to the few negative people in the back. I’ve heard it all. So have my sons when they were in school and Dad was a spirit coach.

“I’m driven hard enough that I’m not looking for respect or acceptance,” Sharp said. “I’ve learned that surrounding yourself with the right people is everything.”

For many, one of those right people continues to be Sharp.

“Todd has reached the peak of Everest in his profession, but still coaches with a chip on his shoulder” like he has something to prove, said Floyd Central High School Athletic Director Jeff Cerqueira. “He is supportive of other coaches, even when they are not always supportive of his program. That’s impressive and humbling.”

Additionally, “Todd’s devotion to his athletes and programs is commendable. He has had several opportunities to take other positions for more money but has chosen to stay home,” Cerqueira said. “Todd is a lot like Geno Auriemma, (head coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team). Not all of the coaches like him, but they respect him. The only difference is that Geno gets the best talent in the country, but Todd just outcoaches everyone.”

 

BONUS COVERAGE:

Brittany Wright danced under Coach Sharp for five years. She is still very involved in his programs.

“Todd is unique, not because he is a 40-something-year-old man who coaches a high school pom team in the middle of a cornfield town. He is unique because he is honest. He doesn’t sugar coat anything – EVER. He sets expectations and sticks to them. He is insanely consistent and the parents and dancers know the standard that Todd will hold them to.

He will not hesitate to scream in your face and tell you how it is or what you are doing wrong, but he will also never hesitate to be there for you when you need him – not just in a coaching aspect.

Todd will come and pick you up if you have a flat tire, pay to get it fixed if you can’t afford it and make sure you get home safe. He’s the guy you can talk to when you have just had a bad break up. He knows when to turn the switch on and off. The girls have a HEALTHY fear of Todd. He can make you bawl your eyes out and have you laughing in the next 5 minutes. I have seen him turn a not-so-great dancer into a front row, front and center girl.

Todd has a drive as a coach that goes beyond what I have ever witnessed in our industry. He is able to pull the best out of his girls. I think it’s safe to say that they live to make him proud.”

Lauren Strobel danced under Coach Sharp all through high school as a Floyd Central Dazzler and through college as a University of Louisville Ladybird. She hails from Southern Indiana and is now a dental hygienist.

“Todd is fiercely loyal. I have known him for 8 years and he always puts in 110 percent. Todd has been my coach since I was a skinny, scared, naïve, sophomore in high school. I walked into the Dazzler tryouts with my hair in a tight bun and worn-down ballet shoes. I was intimidated and ill-prepared to say the least, but I had a strong background in ballet. I had heard stories about the world famous Dazzler coach and his pom and hip hop team. I was interested in being involved. After the tryouts, I remember my parents being supportive but worried that I would not make the team. However, Todd saw something in me. I felt extremely fortunate to be asked to be a part of Todd’s JV pom team. Less than a year later, I was a national champion.

Todd made us believe in ourselves. He inspired us to be better, jump higher, turn tighter and stay in sync. It was a full-time job, but very rewarding. In high school we would practice daily for 3 to 4 hours a day. In college as a Ladybird, we practiced late night – 8:30 to 11 p.m. 3 to 4 times per week. On the weekends we would go to competitions; during the summer we would go to dance camp.

Todd taught us that nothing worth having comes easy, and this still comes to mind daily. ‘Faith without work is dead.’ – James 2:17

Todd talked about this Bible verse at practice one afternoon. You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? You can say that you are good, but are you really going to work towards it? This will always be my favorite.

At UofL I was taking 18 to 20 hours in the dental hygiene program. I spent many late nights studying and going to practice. There were many times I felt like giving up and changing my major. Todd was always supportive. On many occasions I called him just to vent and he was always willing to listen. He allowed me to miss an occasional practice so I could study, for which I am forever grateful. At the end of my senior year, I was unable to dance at the national competition because I had to take my dental hygiene board exam. I was heartbroken. It was very tough for me to sit out at practice. At the end of the semester, I received an award at the University Athletic Department Awards program. Todd presented the award to me and I was extremely honored. I have since graduated from dental hygiene school and now work full-time. Todd has taught me so much about life, dance, happiness and working towards a common goal. It was a privilege to be one of his Ladybirds. I was lucky enough to travel all over the country to dance at games and tournaments. Together, (we) won five 5 National Championships along the way.

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Episode 1: Off The Page with Extol featuring Todd Sharp

What happens when you’re featured on the cover of a magazine and have no idea what people will say about you? Todd Sharp, the subject of Extol’s latest cover story, gets candid with us off the page. Trust us, you want to hear what he says. 

 There’s always more to the story. Find out more when you listen to Off The Page with Extol Magazine. 

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Extol’s Todd Sharp Cover Story | So Sharp

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Extol’s August/September Digital Edition