Copperas Cove Councilman Jim Schmitz sat in a CBS Television City studio in Los Angeles on June 25 and watched his 18-year-old granddaughter, Hayley Erbert, compete in the 10th season of “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Jim Schmitz was grateful for the experience with the nationally-televised dance competition but is still in shock over the whole idea, he said. “It’s surreal, almost hard to believe.”
Schmitz and his wife, Gloria, traveled to Los Angeles last week for Erbert’s debut performance. Gloria Schmitz was not in the audience during the live broadcast because of a limited number of tickets. However, she was allowed backstage.
The show is an opportunity of a lifetime, Gloria Schmitz said.
“It’s beyond belief for me,” she said. “What are the chances of a girl from Topeka (Kan.) and her mother from Copperas Cove actually being on a show like this?”
Erbert’s mother, Debbie Schwartz, who grew up in Cove and attended Copperas Cove High School, moved to Topeka shortly before Erbert’s birth.
Gloria Schmitz has been involved in her granddaughter’s dance career since Erbert was a young girl.
“When I would go stay with her, I would pick her up from school at 3:30 (p.m.) and take her to (dance) class, and we wouldn’t get back home until 11:30 (p.m.) or 12 (midnight),” she said. “We did that a few times a week.”
This is not Erbert’s first time on a national stage. She has won several national championships and was featured on the covers of two national dance magazines before trying out for “So You Think You Can Dance.”
“I think this will open a lot of doors for her,” Jim Schmitz said. “If she makes it to the top 10, she will get to go on tour for a few months. She wants to be a dancer, and she’s got the opportunity.”
Even from hundreds of miles away, the Schmitzes give their granddaughter constant support.
“I send her biblical texts and scriptures every other day or as often as I can, and she will respond whenever she has the chance,” Gloria Schmitz said. “She’s thankful for it.”
The family has recruited local friends and family to be part of Erbert’s fan club, keeping track of her progress and voting to keep her on the show, Jim Schmitz said.
While the Schmitzes said the other 19 contestants are extremely talented, they believe their granddaughter is the best of the bunch.
“What amazes me is the quality of her dance at such a young age,” Jim Schmitz said. “I was very impressed.”
The Schmitzes hope to travel to Los Angeles again to see Erbert perform in the final round.