Monday, January 1, 2024

3...2...1... Happy 2024! 2023 Year End Countdown

Hello, and Happy New Year Texas Twirl Fans! 




2023 has come to an end and 2024 is here! The past year has been wonderful for our #TeamTexas athletes! We hope to see this continue in 2024, but before we turn our focus to the new year, it is time to wrap things up with our 2023 Year End Countdown!

For the blog this year, we have continued to live out our mission by helping to keep our community connected and going strong. We put many, many hours into this blog and the Texas Twirl website, and it just makes every minute totally worth it when we see Texas Twirlers supporting each other all across the state. #TeamTexas is amazing, and we are so blessed to be a part of it! 

To celebrate, here is our annual Goodbye 2023 post to take a look back on the past year of this blog's existence, and recognize those that have helped contribute to our mission...

*Top Friday Night Lights Feature Post - Friday Night Lights Feature: Henderson High School
*Top Collegiate Twirler Spotlight Post - Collegiate Twirler Spotlight: Tarleton State
*Highest # of Likes on Instagram - Callyn Marvell in Disney TV Show
*Highest # of Shares on Facebook - 2024 Southwest Regionals Date Announcement
*Highest Viewed Collegiate Twirler Announcement - 2023 SMU "Doll"

Top 10 Posts By Page View Numbers:

Congrats to all of those who made it into the end of year wrap up and Top 10 list, and a big thank you to everyone who has read, liked, shared, or contributed to any of our posts this year.

While we do have our Contest Calendar Series, Contest Wrap-Up Series, Collegiate Twirler Audition Guide and Announcements, plus some new post series in progress, we are always looking for fun, new angles and information to share. Have an idea for an upcoming post or some exciting news to share with the community? Email texastwirlcontact@gmail.com.

Until the next post, we leave you with our wishes that you have a fantastic new year...










Wednesday, December 27, 2023

2024 Texas Collegiate Twirler Audition Guide

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

Welcome to the eighth year we are offering this very special feature for the Twirling is Catching Blog! We know senior year is an exciting time for many twirlers, but it is also a little nerve wracking as twirlers try to decide which University to select. While this is already a hard decision, when you have a dream of twirling on the collegiate level, it adds an additional level of pressure for picking the right place. There are also many current college students that may be deciding between auditioning at their school or other schools. So many choices! Our goal is to present as much audition information for Texas universities in one place as possible to at least make the process of knowing how to audition easier for our collegiate twirler hopefuls.

If you have any information to update any of these listings, or for a university not listed, please email texastwirlcontact@gmail.com. We will be posting updates as new details become available. You can also check out the Texas Collegiate Feature Twirler & Texas Collegiate Line Twirlers pages at TexasTwirl.com for more info on each of these programs.

We will also announce many of the Twirler selections for these Universities as the decisions are made, so stay tuned! You can always follow us here to get these announcements, but make sure to also like and follow us at www.facebook.com/twirlingiscatchingtx, and Instagram account @twirlingiscatchingtx. 



2024 TX Collegiate Twirler 
Audition Quick Guide:

*As of 12/27/2023*

Audition Registration Deadlines
*Jan 13 - Lamar University
*Feb 1 -University of Houston
*Feb 1 - Sam Houston State Univ.
*Feb 1 - Baylor University
*Feb 1 - SFA Feature Twirler
*Feb 15 - SFA Twirl-O-Jacks
*Mar 13 - Texas Tech Line
*April TBA - UTSA Feature & Line
*TBA - Texas State University


Live Audition Dates
*Feb 24/25 - SFA Feature Twirler
*Feb 24/25 - SFA Twirl-O-Jacks
*March 23 - Texas Tech Line
*April TBA - UTSA Feature & Line
*Mid-April - Texas State University
*Invite Only - Baylor University
*Invite Only - University of Houston
*Invite Only - Sam Houston State Univ.


No Audition Date Available at This Time:
*Texas Christian University
*Univ. of TX, Permian Basin
*Kilgore College
*East TX Baptist University
*Univ. of Mary Hardin Baylor
*Tyler Junior College
*Abilene Christian University
*Tarleton State University
*Angelo State University
*Trinity Valley Community College
*University of the Incarnate Word
*University of Texas, Dallas

Not Holding 2023 Auditions:
*Texas Tech Feature Twirler Position
*University of Texas, Austin 
*Southern Methodist University

Already completed 2024 Auditions 
or No Longer Accepting Applicants:
*N/A





2024 Texas Collegiate 
Twirler Audition Details:


BEAUMONT: Lamar University
*Audition applications due by January 13
*2024 Feature Audition Information


HOUSTON: University of Houston
*Videos & Resume are due by February 1
*2024 Feature Audition Requirements
*Email submissions to uhtwirl@gmail.com
*More info found on Instagram @uhtwirling


HUNTSVILLE: Sam Houston State University
*Application & Videos due February 1
*2024 SHSU Feature Audition Info 
*For more info email shsufeaturetwirlers@gmail.com


WACO: Baylor University
*Audition Packets due February 1
*For more info email lynndell@heilp.com
*Golden Girl Audition Information 


NACOGDOCHES: Stephen F Austin
*Twirl-O-Jack Live Auditions February 24/25
*Twirl-O-Jack Pre-Audition Info due February 15
*2024 Twirl-O-Jack Audition Info
*Contact twirlojacks@gmail.com

*Feature Twirler Auditions February 24/25
*Pre-Audition Info due February 1
*2024 Feature Twirling Audition Info


LUBBOCK: Texas Tech University
*Materials due prior to March 13
*Live Auditions will be held on March 23
*2024 Tech Twirler Audition Information 



-----------------------------------------------------------

No Current Audition Information Available


SAN ANTONIO: Univ of TX, San Antonio
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*Application & Videos due TBA
*Live auditions will be held April TBA
*UTSA is auditioning for Features and the Line
*2023 USTA Twirler Audition Information
*For more info email utsatwirlerauditions@gmail.com


SAN MARCOS: Texas State University
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*Audition Materials are due TBA
*Invite Only Live Auditions will be Mid April
*Tx State Twirler Audition Info Website
*For more info email krg60@txstate.edu


FORT WORTH: Texas Christian University
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*TCU Feature Twirler Facebook Page
*TCU Horned Frog Marching Band Website

ODESSA: Univ. of Texas, Permian Basin
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*Audition Info must be submitted by TBA
*Live Auditions will be TBA
*2023 Falcon Twirler Audition Information
*For more info email brito_e@utpb.edu


KILGORE: Kilgore College
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*Live Auditions will be TBA
*2023 Audition Information 
*Kilgore College Twirlers Website
*For more info email jordanijenkins16@gmail.com 


MARSHALL: East TX Baptist University
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*Auditions will be on TBA
*For more info email nphillips@etbu.edu
*ETBU Marching Band Website


BELTON: Univ. of Mary Hardin-Baylor
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*Materials due prior to TBA
*Email jhunt@umhb.edu for info 
*UMHB CRU Spirit Band Website


TYLER: Tyler Junior College
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*Audition Info must be submitted by TBA
*Live Auditions will be on TBA
*Email hauckjenna@gmail.com for info


ABILENE: Abilene Christian University
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*2022 ACU Audition Information


STEPHENVILLE: Tarleton State University
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*The Sound & The Fury Website


SAN ANGELO: Angelo State University
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*For more info contact jonathan.alvis@angelo.edu
*ASU Ram Band Website


ATHENS: Trinity Valley Comm. College
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*TVCC Cardinals Regiment Website

RICHARDSON: University of TX, Dallas
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*UT Dallas Pep Band Website

SAN ANTONIO: Univ. of the Incarnate Word
*No 2024 audition info available yet 
*Cardinal Band website for reference


-----------------------------------------------------------

Not holding auditions for Fall 2024


AUSTIN: University of Texas – Austin
*2021 Audition Information Website 
*No auditions will be held for 2024
*Current Feature - Aidyn Mentry


DALLAS: Southern Methodist University
*2023 “The Doll” Audition Information 
*No auditions will be held for 2024
*Current Feature - Sophia Dinubilo



-----------------------------------------------------------


Already completed auditions for Fall 2023

*None as of 12/27/2023


-----------------------------------------------------------


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 info we could use to help highlight our sport? Please contact us at texastwirlcontact@gmail.com and we would love to hear more about it. 

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Collegiate Twirler Spotlight - Tarleton State University Feature Twirler

 Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

Can you believe competition season starts in just a little over one week here in Texas?  We know all our #TeamTexas collegiate twirlers are doing everything they can to get the most out of their football season during these final weeks, especially this Texan. We loved following her Game Day experience on the Instastory Takeover, and we hope you did too!

This week’s Collegiate Twirler Spotlight is the Tarleton State University Feature Twirler!


Tarleton State University, located in Stephenville, Texas, is the home of the Texans, and today’s featured twirler! The Tarleton Marching Band, known as The Sound and The Fury, is a key Texan spirit organization, and their Feature Twirler, Emilie Janicek, is the centerpiece of their Game Days!

We asked Emilie what made her choose Tarleton, and she said it was love at first sight! “It all started during my Campus Tour on Labor Day of 2021. I loved the vibe at Tarleton State University! The college had everything I wanted—a rich history and meaningful traditions, a D1 sports program, an enclosed campus, that small-town feel, a spectacular music scene, outstanding academics and research opportunities for my major, plus lots of options to become involved on campus and to make a difference!

About a week later, I received my welcome and acceptance letter from Dr. James Hurley, Tarleton's President. Two days later, I received confirmation of being in the University's Honors Degree program. That same afternoon, I received a text from a chatbot with the adorable name of Oscar P.! My devotion to Tarleton began at that moment.


When housing applications opened, I hit the submit button and paid the non-refundable deposit. I committed to Tarleton---regardless of whether I got the privilege of representing the University and its marching band as Tarleton's Feature Twirler.”

Going into twirling discussions already committed to Tarleton, Emilie didn't experience the typical audition process. “After my Campus Tour, I signed up for Tarleton's Game Day Tour so my dad could see the campus and watch the football team play. While researching more about the University, I noticed that Tarleton's All-Region Band Clinic, Band Day, and the Game Day Tour were all on September 25th!

The schedules didn't conflict, so I signed up for the Band Day portion, but there wasn't an option for a twirler to play a part, so I emailed Dr. David Robinson, Director of Bands, and asked if I could participate as a baton twirler. He replied that they looked forward to having me, and that he would let Dr. Westbrook and I work out the details.


I had an impromptu, live audition at marching band rehearsal and a guest feature twirler performance at the game. Dr. Gary Westbrook offered the Feature Twirler position to me on the spot, which solidified that Tarleton State University was my destiny!”

That destiny has led Emilie to an amazing experience at Tarleton. While she says there are many things to love about the school, her favorite thing is the professors! “I love that if you put yourself out there and put in your best effort, the Professors, Academic Advisors, Academic College Deans and Department Heads, the Athletics Department and Coaches, Executive Leadership, and the University's President, Dr. James Hurley, and wife, First Lady Kindall, genuinely want to get to know you, watch you succeed, and help you in any way they can!”

In addition to a wonderful faculty, Tarleton has some fantastic traditions. “We have a lot of traditions, and they're all so cool! The Walk Down Rudder Way, Pointe Du Hoc led by the Texan Corps of Cadets' Cannon Team, Lighting of the Smokestack, Yell Contest, Snake Dance, Beating of the Drum, Bonfire built by the Plowboys, Silver Bugle Hunt, Midnight Breakfast with purple pancakes, Founder’s Week, and Legend of the Texan Rider! Also, we love our Oscar P., who might look like a mascot, but he's Tarleton Texans' spirit animal!”


She can’t forget the Purple Poo though when talking about traditions… Yes, we said the Purple Poo. “The Purple Poo is the oldest and most secretive spirit organization in Texas. This year, we’re celebrating their 100th year! The Poo show up to campus events and raise school spirit. They do so anonymously by disguising their identities by wearing masks and costumes, and by changing their voices.”

With all of these traditions, we had to know which one was her favorite, and she told us, “The best tradition by far, although bittersweet, is that first-year students light a candle during convocation to signify joining the Tarleton family. Each student's flame burns until his/her death, and a Tarleton brother or sister lays the flame to rest at the annual Silver Taps Ceremony.”

Now that we have learned more about Tarleton, let’s learn more about Emilie!


Emilie Janicek

Emilie is a Sophomore from Smiley, Texas, and is majoring in Biomedical Sciences on the Pre-Med track. In addition to being the Tarleton Feature Twirler, she is also very involved on campus. “I serve as the Vice President of Global and Community Connections for our University as a member of the Executive Board of Tarleton's Student Government Association. This position gives me the privilege of getting to know a diverse group of people and interacting with multiple campus organizations and the greater Stephenville community. I'm happy to listen to and voice students' concerns and needs. I also serve as an Honors College Ambassador and work for the Honors College by mentoring approximately sixteen Freshmen. Additionally, I am a member of Phi Mu - Epsilon Pi Chapter. I’m thrilled that Phi Mu has a national philanthropic partner, the Children's Miracle Network, to which all the chapters contribute. Epsilon Pi has the honor of working with Cook's Children's Hospital in Fort Worth. We also help out at Foster's Home for Children in Stephenville.” 

Emilie is a collegiate level twirler that has only been competing since she was 12. “I received my first Starline baton as a gift when I was four, but I didn't become involved in the sport until I was twelve. I've learned a lot in 7 years, and I'm still learning new tricks and skills.” Her favorite competition event is 3-baton, and her favorite field trick is, “Definitely elbow pops because the crowd loves them!” In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by Kristie Kriegel Peterman, The University of Texas at Austin's 1986-91 Longhorn Feature Twirler. 

After College, Emilie hopes to continue on the medical track. “My short-term goal is Medical School. Until then, I plan to research eye disease and vision disorders, as well as work as an intern at different medical practices. My ultimate goal is a career as an ophthalmologist. In addition, I plan on continuing the sport of baton twirling by coaching and sharing my passion for shiny, spinning metal sticks.”


Fun Facts!

Favorite Color
: “Purple!”

Favorite TV show or Movie: “It's a tie between Criminal Minds and Grey's Anatomy.”

Favorite Book or Podcast: “There are too many great books to choose just one! My go-to podcast for long drives is ‘Even the Rich.’”

Favorite Food or Drink: “My current favorites are sushi and Sonic's Ocean Water.”


Favorite Quotes…
"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." ~Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

"What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?" ~Angie Thomas, The Hate You Give

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Prov 3:5-6

When she is not twirling, she loves to…
“Read; Walk around campus; Hang out, cook, and study with my friends; Call my mom!”


Something people might not know about her…
“The same year I chose to be a baton twirler, I was diagnosed with a specific type of corneal dystrophy, where bright lights can cause eye pain, halos, and glare. The diagnosis explained a lot of the symptoms I had been experiencing while twirling at pep rallies, games, and twirling competitions. With the increased use of LED lights on football fields and in sporting arenas, performing requires strategic planning before tossing the batons into the air. More often than not, I go for it and trust my training.”

The best non twirling life skill she has gained from baton twirling is…
“Time management is a soft skill I've mastered due to baton twirling. I've learned how to be efficient and productive with my time, which allows me to participate in multiple activities, earn good grades, and still have time for fun and relaxation.”

Advice to future collegiate twirlers or those in the audition process…
“Choose the college you attend because you love everything about it and can see yourself thriving there during your undergraduate years. If you get to twirl as the feature or as a line twirler, it will make being an Ambassador for the University and its band program a breeze and super fun!”


Favorite memory as a baton twirler…
“Something I will never forget is hearing the announcer introduce me as ‘Feature Twirler, Emilie Janicek’ and pronouncing my last name correctly!”

Funniest memory as a baton twirler…
“It was so cold at Tarleton's Senior Night football game last year that I stuffed hand warmers into my costume and kept them there during our halftime performance. I was worried that one of the warmers would fall out during a trick or that the heat would melt my costume.”

Favorite thing about your university's marching band program…
“Our marching band gets to travel and perform at all of our out-of-town football games in Texas! Getting to perform in different-sized stadiums is really fun, and it’s a blast hanging out with the different sections during the games. Each section has its own personality, and I love that!”


Favorite tradition or inside joke within your band program…
“Our athletic bands always sing Tarleton's Alma Mater, "The Color Song," acapella after every game.”

Something you are really looking forward to this field season…
“This season has been more exciting than ever because I’ve gotten to know some of the starters on defense and offense and their coaches. I look forward to being on the sidelines cheering on The Texans at every game!”

We want to thank Emilie for sharing her Game Day with us, and we wish her an amazing rest of her Fall season, and a great rest of her school year. Go Texans!


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 texastwirlcontact@gmail.com and we would love to hear more about it.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Friday Night Lights Feature - Gilmer High School

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

Wow! Can you believe we have already completed the last weekend of regular season high school football? The past couple months went by so fast, and we are sad to say this is the final Friday Night Lights Feature of the season! Don’t worry, we will still have more takeovers through playoffs, but for our last interview of the season we get to meet a great group of twirlers!

Our final Friday Night Lights Feature of the season is the Gilmer High School Twirlers!


Gilmer High School, located in Gilmer, Texas, is the home of the Buckeyes, and a wonderful tradition of twirling! This year Gilmer High School is able to feature a line of 10 twirlers including Caitlin Drennan & Mallory Tate (Co-Head Twirlers), Heidi EspinoMaritza Ocampos, Magdalyn Boaz, Hailee Green, Elizabeth Melara, Natalie Fennell, Amy Sanchez, and Jessica Wright.

With a line of 10 twirlers, we wanted to know what the audition process was, and their coach, Allison Logan, told us that, “Each girl prepares a solo for tryouts, and we also learn a group routine the week of tryouts.”


Being a GHS student is a lot of fun! “We have an awesome new school with great facilities!” In addition to playing at football games and pep rallies, they also have a great military style marching band that just placed 4th at the 5A/6A UIL State Military Marching Band Championship! Attending the State Contest is the event that they all say will be their favorite memory from the season! So exciting!

Now that we have learned a little more about GHS, let’s learn more about the twirlers!

Caitlin Drennan, Senior
Co-Head Twirler

Caitlin has been twirling for 6 years. She was a member of the BETA Competition Team for 2 years with Blair Maxwell and is a private student of Candice Curbow. Her favorite tricks are 3 turns or 2 baton juggles with a blind catch. After High School, Caitlin hopes to become a Music Education Major at Stephen F. Austin and audition to be a Twirl-O-Jack.
  • Favorite Quote… “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow” - Helen Keller
  • When she is not twirling, she loves to… “Hang out with my friends, sing country music, and take pictures.”
  • Something people might not know about her… “I don’t have wisdom teeth.”
  • Advice to future high school twirlers… “Make the most of the time you have, make those memories, because it goes by fast."

Mallory Tate, Senior
Co-Head Twirler

Mallory has been twirling for more than six years and works with coaches Kait Abron, Ms. Michele, and Allison Logan. After high school she hopes to attend college and major in psychology with the focus of being a forensic psychologist.
  • When she is not twirling, she loves to… “Playing sports and attending church activities.”

Heidi Espino, Senior 

Heidi has been twirling for over 4 years and works with Coach Allison Logan.


Natalie Fennell, Junior

Natalie has been twirling for 4 years and works with coaches Michele Faulkner, Kait Abron, and Allison Logan. Her favorite trick is a double arm flash toss. After high school she hopes to go to the University of Texas at Austin and major in biology to become a pediatrician.
  • Favorite Quote… “Never let the body tell the mind what to do… the body is never tired if the mind is not tired” General George S. Patton Jr
  • When she is not twirling, she loves to… “Spend time with friends and family.”
  • Something people might not know about her… “I like to learn about history.”
  • Advice to future high school twirlers… “Never stop improving and don’t drop the stick!”

Jessica Wright, Junior 

Jessica has been twirling for 6 years and works with coach Allison Logan. Her favorite trick is a toss layout. After high school, she hopes to become either an ultrasound tech or a radiologist.
  • Favorite Quote… “Live life as if you were to die tomorrow and learn as if you were to live forever.”
  • When she is not twirling, she loves to… “Go to events at my church and hang out with friends.”
  • Something people might not know about her… “I did cheer before majorette.”
  • Advice to future high school twirlers… “Don't be afraid to try new tricks because they seem scary, they can end up being your favorite trick!”

Magdalyn Boaz, Sophomore

Magdalyn has been twirling for 4 years and is coached by Allison Logan. Her favorite trick is a two turn. After High School she hopes to become an RN and open a shelter/kitchen for the needy.”
  • Favorite Quote… “Spread love like confetti!”
  • When she is not twirling, she loves to… “Read.”
  • Something people might not know about her… “I know how to crochet.”
  • Advice to future high school twirlers… “Practice and have fun!”

Elizabeth Melara, Sophomore

Elizabeth has been twirling for five years. She has been coached by Michele’s All-Star Twirl, Briyanna Blalock, Genell Blalock, Michele Faulkner, and Allison Taylor Logan. Her favorite trick is a shoulder arm back catch. After high school, she hopes to become a surgeon and specialize in hip and shoulders.”
  • When she is not twirling, she loves to… “Read or play softball.”
  • Something people might not know about her… “I have 2 older siblings in Honduras.”
  • Advice to future high school twirlers… “Don’t give up when it gets hard.”

Maritza Ocampos, Freshman

Maritza has been twirling for two and a half years, and is coached by Mr. Gray, Mrs. Thompson, and Mr. Garmon. Her favorite trick is a toss illusion. After high school she hopes to go to college and start her health science pathway.
  • Favorite Quote… "Accept both compliments and criticism. It takes both sun and rain for a flower to grow.” -Marek KoĊ›niowski
  • When she is not twirling, she loves to… “Listen to music or watch movies.”
  • Something people might not know about her… “I'm a completely different person once you have known me for years.”
  • Advice to future high school twirlers… “Even if you are lacking in some skills, never give up! You just need to practice because practice makes perfection.”

Hailee Green, Freshman

Hailee has been twirling for four years. Her favorite trick is juggles. After high school, she hopes to be a teacher and a missionary on the side of that.”
  • When she is not twirling, she loves to… “Play my trumpet and hang out with my friends.”
  • Advice to future high school twirlers… “Practice your routines continually after you learn them even if the routine is not being done frequently so that you know it well when the time comes.”

Amy Sanchez, Freshman

Amy has been twirling for five years and works with Coaches Chole, Allison Logan, and Ms. Michele. Her favorite tricks are illusion skills. After high school she hopes to be a feature twirler at a university.
  • Favorite Quote… “When you work hard, you go far!” 
  • When she is not twirling, she loves to… “Go shopping!”
  • Something people might not know about her… “I don’t like candy.”
  • Advice to future high school twirlers… “To have your solo prepared on time…don’t wait until the last minute.”


We want to thank the Gilmer Twirlers for sharing their game day with us, and we send them a huge congratulations on their great showing at UIL Military State! We hope they have an amazing rest of their school year, and we will see them on the field again next Fall! 


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 texastwirlcontact@gmail.com and we would love to hear more about it.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Collegiate Twirler Spotlight - Southern Methodist University Feature Twirler

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

It is amazing how fast this season has gone. We are only a few weeks away from the entry deadline for the ATX Holiday Twirl Fest (visit ATX Holiday Twirl Fest for more details), and 14 days away from the Fall Kick Off Contest, which is the first NBTA Texas contest of the season! We also cannot believe that today we are meeting one of our last few collegiate twirlers for this Fall.

This week’s Collegiate Twirler Spotlight is the Southern Methodist University Doll!


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”, Sophia Dinubilo!

With a unique title name for their Feature Twirler, we had to know where that came from. Sophia told us its origin. “The Feature Twirler is called The Doll, because until 1977 the band was all male except for the feature twirler. They were referred to as “96 guys and a doll.” The name stuck and the feature twirler has been called The Doll ever since.”

Making the choice which college to audition at can be a tough one. We asked Sophia what brought her to SMU, and she told us, “I chose this university because it had been my dream school since I visited when I was in 7th grade. It has a beautiful campus, it is academically excellent, has a great faculty to student ratio, and an excellent job placement rate for graduates.”

We wanted to know more about the audition process to earn such a prestigious position. Sophia filled us in. “About 2-3 weeks prior to the tryout date I sent in a twirling resume and a tryout video as well as some videos of my performances at halftimes and band competitions. The tryout was in person and included a 3-minute routine with 1,2,3 and 4 batons, a short fight song routine, and then a round table interview with the band directors and the judges. (past feature twirlers are invited to judge along with the band directors).”


Now that she has a couple months of attending SMU under her belt, we had to find out what her favorite thing is about attending her dream school. “My school is not so huge that you feel lost in the crowd. My freshman classes don’t have 200-300 people in a giant auditorium. They are small enough that I can develop relationships with professors and classmates. (One of them has about 25 people!) I feel like I get the best of both worlds: a big university education, athletics and access in a big exciting city, but in a setting that’s still small enough to feel personal.”

Being Sophia’s dream school, we knew SMU had to have some amazing traditions. We asked her what her favorite one was, and she said it had to be the Boulevard. “We don’t tailgate. We boulevard. Groups and individuals set up tents along the beautiful long boulevard before home games for pre-game parties. The tents are often super fancy with pointed tops, TVs, sometimes even private toilet facilities. Some get really elaborate with silver, crystal and even chandeliers in the tents!”

Sophia also loves their school mascot and being a part of a college marching band that marches to the beat of its own drum (literally). “Our mascot is Peruna the Pony. He is a super cute little black Shetland pony that comes to every home game and leads the parade on the boulevard with the band into the stadium. Also, our band is not a typical marching band: we are a jazz band that performs on the field. The band has a very unique look: candy striped blazers, no polyester uniforms for us! The feature twirler is the only non-musical performer with the band and is their one and only featured performer!”

Now that we have learned more about being “The SMU Doll”, let’s learn more about Sophia!


Sophia Dinubilo
Sophia is a freshman from The Woodlands, Texas, that is majoring in Corporate Communications and Public Affairs with a minor in Journalism. In addition to being “The Doll”, she is also a member of the Hegi Career Leaders Program. Sophia is an advanced level twirler that has been twirling for 10 years. She is a member of the Mickey’s Majorettes and is coached by Patti Mickey and Kayli Mickey-McIntosh. In her twirling career, she has many title she is proud of including being a 2023 Member of Team USA, the 2023 Southwest Regional Senior 1 baton, 2 baton, and 3 baton Champion, and the 2022 Miss Majorette of the Southwest. Sophia’s favorite competition tricks are a 5 spin or a Fujimi with cutbacks, and her favorite field tricks are a leap walkover or elbow pops into splits. In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by former SHSU Feature Twirler/former TWCPHS Co-Feature Madison Frantzen. “My freshman year in high school I twirled with Madison Frantzen who was a senior. She took me under her wing and taught everything I needed to know to survive my first year of high school marching band. She was patient, kind and always helpful. We were put in the band competition show for the first time in school history late in the season and we had to work really hard to get it down, but she made it fun. We had a great band season, set a new standard at our school (the twirler has been included as part of the show ever since) and formed a lifelong friendship!” After College, Sophia hopes to get a job in a large corporation working in communications, marketing or PR. “Or maybe grad school? Not sure about that yet!”

Fun facts
  • Favorite Color - “Pink of course!”
  • Favorite TV show/movie - “FROM, and anything with Timothee Chalamet!!”
  • Favorite Book - “Cinder” (sci fi version of Cinderella)
  • Favorite Foods - “Spaghetti with butter and Parmesan cheese or baked potatoes.”
  • Favorite Drink - “Is and will always be a Starbucks pink drink! I have a bit of an obsession!”

Favorite Quote…
“‘Life is cruel to the shy.‘ My dad used to always say this to my brother and I when we were younger. We had no idea what he meant then and it became kind of a family joke. But as I got older I realized it’s pretty simple but also great advice about life. You won’t ever get anywhere or accomplish anything if you are too afraid (or shy) to put yourself out there and try.”

Favorite Saying…

“‘Not a lick.’ I use this saying many times a day and in many different ways. If someone asks did you save me some or have you done your homework. You reply “not a lick”. It’s basically my way of saying “not at all or no way” but it sounds funnier and makes people laugh.”

When she is not twirling, she loves to…
“Spend time with my friends soaking up the sun, preferably at the beach but a nice pool will do!”

Something people might not know about her is…
“I’m pretty silly and funny. I like to kid and joke around. If a situation starts to get tense or heated I’m the one who’ll crack a joke and try to get everyone to smile or laugh. It’s hard to be mad or feel bad when you’re laughing!”


The best non twirling skill she has learned through twirling is…
“Perseverance! Twirling skills did not necessarily come easy to me! (It took me 2 years to learn back neck rolls!) But I learned that if you stick with something and work consistently you will eventually get where you want to be.”

Best advice from her coach…
“I’ve been coached by Ms Patti since  I was 9 years old. So she’s given me lots of great advice over the years. But the advice I remember the most is, “Don’t show the judge what you can’t do, showcase what you do well!” I think this is great advice not just in twirling but in life as well. Put your best foot forward. Don’t try to do what everyone else does, instead show what is unique and special about you! Highlight what makes you shine!”

Best advice to future collegiate twirlers…
“Get as much video footage and pictures on the field and during competition during your junior and senior years as you can to use for your audition videos. And even though the collegiate audition process can be nerve wracking with lots of ups and downs, you’ll end up where you are meant to be! And you’ll have a blast!”

Favorite memory as a twirler…

“My favorite memory has to be my junior year in high school. My band won the Area UIL marching contest for the first time in our school history. We were so excited jumping up and down and screaming all the way home on the bus! When I got home I had no voice left!”


Funniest memory as a twirler…
“My funniest memory is my freshman year. We were put in the band competition unexpectedly later in the season so we had a lot to learn in a short time. We had one really different and scary stunt at the very end of the show where I had to climb onto Madison’s shoulder and catch her baton. I was super afraid of falling or dropping the baton. The only thing I had to hold onto was her neck. So every time we did the trick I would choke her and her face would be beet red by the time I got down!”

Favorite thing about her marching band program…
“My favorite thing about my university marching band is that it is super supportive and encouraging. From day one, everyone was so welcoming and inviting. After the first week of band camp it felt just like an extended family!”

Favorite marching band program tradition…
“My favorite tradition in band is that we lead the parade up the boulevard into the stadium for every home game. The boulevard is so beautiful and everyone lines up along the boulevard to watch us and the team head into the stadium. It’s like something out of a movie!”

What were you most looking forward to this year…

“This year is my first as The Doll, so I’m looking forward to everything! My first home game and away game went great and were lots of fun. I was really looking forward to the iron skillet (rivalry game between SMU and TCU) because I got to see my Mickey’s Majorettes teammate Stephanie and all of the other great TCU twirlers-KK, Molly, and Haylee!” 

We want to thank Sophia for sharing her Game Day with us, and we loved learning more about her! We wish Sophia a great rest of her freshman season, and we look forward to seeing her on that field for many more years to come. 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 texastwirlcontact@gmail.com and we would love to hear more about it.