Hello Texas Twirl Fans! Welcome to the second round of our Friday Night Lights Features.
This week we travel to the bright lights in Cibolo, Texas, to learn about the Steele High School twirlers – Abby Neuman, Julie Griffee, and Melinda Branson. The three SHS Sparklers are members of the Twirling Sweet Sensations twirling team and are coached by Michele Pangrac, Mary Ann Srulowitz, and Lori Michelle.
In order to earn their spots, they had to learn an ensemble routine and perform it for the band directors and judges. These three very much value their twirling experience and say that “baton twirling, especially on a line, has taught us a lot about confidence and teamwork”. From this they have developed their best advice to future High School twirlers, which is, “don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Twirling in high school requires motivation in order to see the results you've dreamed of”.
Having this unity and the confidence they have built together they achieved their favorite moment of field twirling, which was when they had a no-drop during their first half-time performance of the year. With two of these ladies graduating this spring, they begin to think of what they will miss the most. They say “what we will miss the most is being able to see each other almost every day. We were once just teammates, but now we are sisters”. If that doesn’t give you the feels, I don’t know what will!
Now let’s learn a little more about our three Steele Knights!
Abby Neuman, Senior, Competition Level: Intermediate
Abby has been twirling for 10 years. She is most proud of winning the title of 2016 Senior Intermediate Texas State Pageant Winner. Her favorite competition trick is her horizontal release across the back, left to right, with a one spin to the right, catch in splits, and her favorite field trick is fishtails (she says the crowd loves it!). After high school she wants to be a twirler in college and graduate with a degree in sociology and theology so she can be a youth minister.
Julie Griffee, Senior, Competition Level: Beginner
Julie has been twirling for 7 years. She is most proud of winning the title of 2016 Senior Beginner Texas State Pageant Winner. Her favorite competition trick is a toss catch in a scorpion, and her favorite field movements are leaps and illusions. After high school, Julie plans on going to go to college and eventually becoming a Veterinarian.
Melinda Branson, Junior, Competition Level: Beginner
Melinda has been twirling for 4 years. She is most proud of winning the title of Basic Skills Pageant Winner. Her favorite competition trick is her 3 spin, and her favorite field movement is doing the splits with her teammates. After High School, Melinda plans to go to college and become a veterinarian or a band director.
Who are they most inspired by? Abby says “My coach, Michele Pangrac. (She) has always inspired me because of her excellence and success in twirling as well as the constant love she shows all her students”. Melinda & Julie both say they are most inspired by Miss Texas, Caroline Carothers. Julie says “not only is she an amazing twirler and is very successful, but she also works with twirling for the cure and really cares about helping others” and Melinda says “she is kind to all of her teammates but makes twirling look fluid and easy”. Such high praise!
Color: Purple (Abby & Julie), Blue (Melinda)
Movie: Harry Potter (Julie & Melinda), Zootopia (Abby)
What do they like to do when they are not twirling?
*Abby – I love singing for my church's teen band
*Julie – I write, read, and take pictures of sunsets and sunrises
*Melinda – I love to read
Something you might not know about these girls:
*Abby – I've been singing in choir since first grade
*Julie – By the end of this year I will have 72 college credit hours
*Melinda – I march tuba in the band
Best advice ever given by their coach?
- Abby: “You know how good you are and that's enough... the judge doesn't see your work in the gym."
- Julie: “’Watch the baton’. This sounds obvious, but if you think ahead and worry about what's coming up, you can forgot to really watch and focus on the moment”
- Melinda: “Relax and make the motions fluid”
- Abby: “When you do something beautiful and nobody
notices, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and
yet most of the audience still sleeps”. -John Lennon
- Julie: "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." - Leo Buscaglia (Julie says “This quote shows my motto because I always make it a point to talk to somebody who seems nervous or lonely. If I see somebody wearing a nice shirt or has pretty eyes I tell them because I know how much one compliment can brighten somebody's day. The way I see it is that if you can make somebody happy so easily, then why would you not take advantage of that?”)
- Melinda: "Look for something positive in each day, even if some days you have to look a little harder" -anonymous
Favorite Individual Twirling Moments? Abby says “My favorite moment was winning second at state in x-strut when it was my first time competing advanced”. Both Julie & Melinda say it was competing at Nationals. Julie says “My favorite individual twirling moment was being able to compete at nationals and earn 7 medals”. Wow!
Best School Tradition? “Everyone loves the football players, but no one appreciates the hard work band does. While the band exits the stadium, we give them elbow-bumps (since their hands are full) to show some appreciation.”
Best Band Tradition/Inside Joke? “Any time we are choreographing a routine and suggest a certain dance move, it is guaranteed that someone else will say, "Like this?" and go into the ugliest pose imaginable”.
Funniest Twirl Moment? “The three of us once when shopping and found some toy batons (the little ones with water in the ends) and decided it would be a good idea to twirl them to our routine. We almost got the end of our mini-performance when one baton went flying and smashed into the ground. Water splashed everywhere and we couldn't help but break down in laughter”. They even had pictures to prove the sheer amount of laughter that followed. Nice job ladies!
We hope you have enjoyed another edition of our Friday Night Lights Feature. Have a favorite High School or Collegiate Twirler that you would like to see interviewed? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with their name and email address so that we can reach out to them!