From the time she was a youngster, Debbie (King) Yoho wanted to dance, studying ballet for two years as a youngster.

“I started ballroom dancing socially in the fall of 2006 and this spring decided to take it to a higher level by competing,” said Yoho, adding that her teacher is Josh Tilford of Dance Manor, Cincinnati.

With just eight lessons with Tilford they entered the Oklahoma Dance Rush, 2021, in Oklahoma City earlier this month. Held at the Embassy Suites Downtown, this is an annual country dance competition that has recently added a ballroom component.

“This year was cut back and modified due to Covid,” she said, “requiring among other things, that all attendees wear masks except while competing, where masks were optional.”

The River Valley High School graduated from Capital University, then earned her masters degree in library science at Kent State University. She recently retired after 20 years as assistant librarian with the Columbus School for Girls.

Her love of dance led to ballroom dancing in the fall of 2006.

There are many types of dances, many skill levels and multiple age groups, she explained.

“I competed in 12 single American Smooth dances, waltz, tango, foxtrot and Viennese waltz — in three beginner levels — Newcomer, Bronze 1, Bronze 2, in my age group, 55 and over,” she said. She also competed in one “championship” (a set of dances, waltz, tango, foxtrot ) in Bronze level.

From the 12 single dances, she came away with six firsts, five seconds and one third. She placed first in the dances where three of the dancers were competing (and in one where she was uncontested), second in all but one (she received a third) of the dances where seven or eight were competing.

She said the championship consisted of eight couples in all beginner levels, and she came in third, receiving a medal and a cash prize.

“From what I understand, for a first-time competitor, I did really well, placing in every dance I entered,” she said. “The people at the event were overwhelmingly kind, encouraging and supportive and I received a lot of positive feedback.” She said one competitor even gave her a barite rose, the Oklahoma state mineral, as a good luck charm.

As an aside, she said she photographed the hospital where she was born when her father, the late Ralph King, was stationed at Tinker Air Force Base.

She is the daughter of Marlene Fricke Heimlich (Ken) of Cardington.

Josh Tilford and Debbie Yoho competing in the recent Oklahoma Dance Rush 2021. Tilford and Debbie Yoho competing in the recent Oklahoma Dance Rush 2021. Courtesy photo
Yoho captures multiple awards

By Evelyn Long

For The Sentinel