Martinettes welcome back Coach Iovine before Spring Show

video by Carolyn Tejeda

Steph Medina and Samuel Oladejo

Dance coach Heather Iovine recently had surgery for a brain aneurysm which caused her to leave school for six weeks. On Thursday, Feb. 21, Iovine was not feeling well and had basketball coach Joshua May call 911. She said she does not remember anything after the paramedics arrived.

“I don’t remember anything past that,” Iovine said. “When I woke up five days later, I was told that I had to have emergency surgery and that they had cleaned up the blood and scar tissue and clipped the aneurysm.”

A brain aneurysm is an abnormal bulge in the wall of an artery in the brain. They usually produce no symptoms until they grow large, leak blood, or burst.

“It was not a previous condition that I had known about,” Iovine said. “My aneurysm was not found out before the emergency brain surgery.”

While she was unconscious, Iovine’s family all came to see her.

“Those first 48 hours were pretty hellacious for them,” Iovine said. “Luckily my mom and dad and brother live in Katy, so they were with me the whole time. My sister and her husband…drove down Friday morning at about 3 a.m. and were able to see me before I was taken back to pre-op.”

Victims of brain aneurysms can suffer from memory loss, brain damage, and loss of motor and/or speaking skills. However, Iovine said her recovery process was very fortunate.

“What could have been an incredibly traumatic experience for the recovery process was not for me,” Iovine said. “I was incredibly lucky and woke up just fine.”

During Iovine’s absence, the Mayde Creek Martinettes continued to practice for their Spring Show so that they would be ready for Iovine when she returned. Dance coach Jennifer O’Connell helped make this goal possible.

“After [Iovine] left, Ms. O’Connell stepped up her game,” senior Cidney Foreman said. “She was such a great director and she comforted everyone. She was very strong and confident in what she was doing, so the team wasn’t worried that we weren’t going to be prepared for the spring show.”

When Iovine did return Thursday, April 4, she was greeted with a surprise welcome back party from the team. The Martinettes bought a cake and let Iovine run through the spirit line (recorded above). They also showed her the dance that they had been working on ever since her departure.

“Dance and social officers decorated the gym,” Iovine said. “I had a welcome back sign…a journal that they had written to me in everyday. They had a giant cake and they made spirit lines for me to come into, and we screamed and yelled and cried, and they were so so excited, so it was super special.”

Iovine and the Martinettes immediately got back to work preparing for their Spring Show which took place April 26 and 27. Now that it’s over, the team is enjoying the time they have back with Iovine.

“[Iovine] came back a jumped right into Spring Show preparations,” junior Cara Tejeda said. “Now that Spring Show has passed, we’re all just taking time to really appreciate having her back with us and healthy.”