Can you believe this is the last post of October? This year, and football season, are flying by. We have one more Collegiate post before this month comes to an end. You may have seen the Insta-story take-over on Thursday when today's Spotlight twirler took us from "High on the Hilltop", to Houston, and back.
Today’s Collegiate Twirler Spotlight is on the Southern Methodist University Feature Twirler!
Southern Methodist University is located in the heart of Dallas, Texas, and is the home of the Best Dressed Band in the Land, and their centerpiece, “The Doll”. The position of the SMU Feature Twirler, known as “the Doll”, has been held by a long history of amazing Texas twirlers. Many State, Regional, and National titles have come home to SMU. Continuing the legacy of excellence is the current “Doll”, Rachel Hutchinson!
We were very interested in why SMU calls their Feature Twirler “The Doll”, so Rachel gave us a little overview of the position. “One of the historic nicknames of the band is “96 Guys and a Doll,” which is where the Doll title for the Feature Twirler originated. In the pregame show, the Twirler and Drum Major traditionally do a duet. In the halftime show, the role of the feature twirler is to be a focal point for the show, complementing the band movements and musical selection. The finale of halftime is called “Waring,” where the band stretches the last note of music to match the height the twirler’s high toss.”
While the choice was obviously SMU academically, for her freshman year of College, the Feature Twirler position was already filled, and when a twirler is named “The Doll”, they are awarded their spot for a set amount of time without re-auditioning. For example, Rachel will hold the position through her Senior year. This meant she as she was entering college she would have to wait a year as the Freshman Twirler. “For the freshman twirler position, the band director chose the spot based on video submissions. That position was designed to expose the twirler to the band but was a non-performance role. With the opportunity to audition for the Feature Twirler position opening her sophomore year, this required a live performance. Preparation-wise, the audition process was the biggest difference. It was also great preparation for field movements and feature skills.”
We know all that hard work was totally worth it in the end. “Since becoming the Feature Twirler, the greatest feeling is that it is rewarding and motivating to be able to share what I have been working on and contribute to school spirit.”
Now that we have learned a little more about her journey, let’s learn more about Rachel!
Competition Level: Advanced
Rachel is a Sophomore Majoring in Engineering and Mathematics and Minoring in Pre-Law, from Houston, Texas. At SMU she is also in the Society of Professional Engineers and Executive Board. She has been twirling for ten years and is currently working with Ashley Moss. The competition title she is the proudest of winning is the 2018 Miss Majorette of the Southwest and Southwest Regional Rhythmic Champion. She was also honored to be a World Open Strut Finalist at AYOP. Her favorite competition trick is a double leg hold spin and her favorite field tricks are leap walkovers and two baton walkover combos. “Anything walkover!” In baton twirling she has been most inspired by Shaelynn Albretch. After she graduates from Undergrad, she hopes to attend Law School. “I want to work in International Law, specifically globally-sensitive engineering developments (biological weaponry, nuclear power, contamination).”
Favorite TV Shows – “The Good Place” and “Mindhunters”
Favorite Music – “Anything the SMU Band Plays!”
Favorite Quote – “When life gives you more than you bargained for, you’re usually glad you got it!”
When she is not twirling, she loves to…
“Spend time with friends.”
Something people might not know about her is…
“I love the outdoors, hiking, and going to the beach.”
Most memorable advice from her Coach…
“Don’t drop and have fun!”
Funniest thing that has happened to her in twirling….
“Just last week I took a baton to the face in rehearsal, which was already such a clumsy sight! The best part is that it resulted in a huge busted lip for band picture day!”
Most fun experience she gets to have as a twirler….
“Camps! Seeing new styles, skills, and nuances always helps me grow. I find that learning is fresh and exciting… and there’s no competition at camp!”
The SMU Marching Band, known as the Best Dressed Band in the Land, is an amazing family away from home for its members. They get to be a part of so many SMU traditions, including Rachel’s favorite tradition, “Boulevarding.” “The boulevard is central to campus and looks out to Dallas Hall. Students and alumni dress in Sunday best and tailgate. Spirit, Band, and the mascot, Peruna the Stallion, parade football players into the stadium.”
With spending so much time together, the BDBITL has many of its own inside jokes and stories. One of their favorites is when they get to use the term HUBBA! “Anytime the band is celebrating a success, good news, or a person, we chant “hubba hubba hubba.” It is best used when an alumnus speaks, because the tradition has gone back to the very beginning of Mustang Band history.”
Over the last ten years of twirling, Rachel has learned many lessons, but considers inclusivity to be one of the most important. “Twirling is highly competitive, and often focused on individual performance. If we step back from the whirlwind, these are the people who share our values and goals. My twirling friends have been some of my strongest friendships because when you are practicing everyday all summer, you get close. My experiences have made me value inclusivity and made me conscious of including others.”
Finally, we asked Rachel what advice she would give to any twirlers wanting to one day twirl on a Collegiate Field, and she told us, “Keep good posture and believe in yourself, body language can make or break your performance.”
We want to say thank you to Rachel and we wish her an amazing rest of the season. Pony Up!
We hope you have enjoyed this blog post. We are always looking for great new stories about Texas twirlers. Do you have an idea or some information we could use to help highlight our sport? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would love to hear more about it.