Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Collegiate Twirler Spotlight - Angelo State University Feature Twirler

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

As September comes to a close, we celebrate a great first month of Collegiate football, and of course, Collegiate Twirlers! We hope you enjoyed learning more about this week’s Collegiate Twirler Spotlight as she shared what her Game Day is like in Ram Nation. 

This week’s Spotlight is the Angelo State University Feature Twirler, Katy Herber!

Angelo State University is located in San Angelo, Texas, and is the home of the Rams. It is also the home of a great spirit community that is very supportive of their twirlers. This year, the ASU Band gets to highlight their Feature Twirler, Katy Herber!

We asked Katy what brought her to ASU, and she said it had everything she needed. “I chose Angelo State because of the size and location of the school. Angelo State, and even San Angelo in general, is big enough to have everything you need, but small enough where you don’t feel overwhelmed by crowds. I came down for a game my junior year of high school and I just fell in love with the atmosphere of the university, and I was pretty much sold from that point on. 

Katy also told us that staying in Texas and close to home was important to her. I also have always dreamt of living in west Texas, and I knew I just had to come out here. I wanted to go out west to start a new adventure in my life, but I still wanted to stay close to my family. I go home about once a month to see my family as well as my extended family and they always come down to the football games to watch me twirl.”

After choosing to attend ASU, it was perfect that Katy was able continue her twirling career there as well. We asked Katy what the audition was like, and she said it was a super simple process. “I submitted a video compilation and a letter of interest. Since I auditioned during Covid-19, I got an email that the spot was mine, and will be until I graduate, so the rest was history.” We also wanted to know if there is any scholarship associated with the position and she told us “Yes. I get a 600 dollar scholarship every semester I twirl!”

Angelo State has been a great place for Katy, and just the right fit. “I absolutely love the size of my school. It is big enough to offer lots of different programs and opportunities, but it’s small enough where I get a quality one-on-one education. I’m able to contact my professors regularly and they always make sure you will succeed. It also has a very welcoming community. The band, the faculty, and even the fans are some of the most supportive people ever. The number of compliments I get flooded with at games and even at competitions from people who have ties to the Concho Valley is immeasurable, and I’m super grateful for the most supportive university ever.”

Don’t let ASU not being a huge school make you think they don’t have huge school spirit! We asked Katy about her favorite school tradition, and she said it had to be Ram Jam. “It’s basically a giant tailgate party before the game with great food and great music.”

Katy Herber
Katy is a sophomore from Pflugerville, Texas, and she is a Geoscience major with a minor in Mathematics. She has been twirling for 16 years and is coached by Lynn Dell Harrell for individual events and Lori Perkins of the Dixie Diamonds for team. In addition to being the ASU Feature Twirler, she is also the secretary for Women in Physics organization. The competition placement she is the proudest of was earning the Silver Medal for the 2022 Senior AA US Pre-Trials. Katy’s favorite competition trick is an illusion floor roll, and her favorite field trick is anything three baton. In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by Adaline Bebo. “She has accomplished a lot and has been on a journey with her life that hasn’t been the easiest, but I admire her perseverance and determination.” After completing her school at ASU, she hopes to attend graduate school at Texas A&M, pursuing a degree in Meteorology. “I want to work as a storm chaser or work at an agency like the National Weather Service, NOAA, or NASA as a weather researcher or forecaster.”

Fun Facts! 
Favorite Color – Light Blue
Favorite TV Show – “Numb3rs”
Favorite Book – “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard
Favorite Food Item – Mini Nilla Wafers

Favorite Quote… 
“What shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

When she is not twirling, she loves to… 
“Go to concerts of Texas red dirt country music artists.”

Something most people might not know about her is... 
“I have perfect pitch and I love to write music.”

The best non-twirling life skill they have gained from baton twirling is…
“I have learned the importance of consistency. You need to consistently practice reaching your
goals. I have been able to apply it to learning things like math or a new language, and to reach
my goal of fluency in that subject, you must practice applying it every day to move forward.”

Most memorable advice from her Coach…
“Breathe, especially before and during every performance.”

Advice to Future Twirlers…
“Stick with it and keep going. It may get rough some days, you may want to quit somedays, but the rough patch will pass, and you will always keep continuing to grow as you stick with the sport.”

Favorite Memory as a Baton Twirler…
“Catching my first double illusion!”

Funniest Memory as a Baton Twirler…
 “Juggling for the student section before halftime and watching all the fans lose their minds.”

What advice would you give to a twirler about to go into college auditions?
"Always have a smile on your face. Smiling will help boost your confidence."

Favorite Tradition within the ASU Band program…
“We always finish rehearsal with our band director, Dr. Alvis, shouting “Ram Band on 3. 1, 2, 3”
and we all scream “Ram Band” at the top of our lungs.”

Something she is really looking forward to this season…
“I am looking forward to hopefully making playoffs this year!”

We enjoyed sharing Game Day with Katy, and we hope she has an amazing rest of the year. We will all be cheering on the ASU Rams in hopes they move on to Play Offs! Go Rams!

 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. 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Friday Night Lights Feature - Claudia Taylor Johnson High School

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

The last weekend of September has come and gone, and we are ready to take on “Band-Tober” and all the fun that comes with a month full of marching band, football, and watching those high school twirlers rock it under those Friday Night Lights. We know today's featured twirlers did just that this past weekend and we loved following their Game Day experience on the Instastory Takeover.

This Weekend’s FNL Feature is the Claudia Taylor Johnson High School Feature Twirlers! 

Claudia Taylor Johnson (aka CTJ), located in San Antonio, Texas, is the home of the Jaguars, and one of the best band programs in the country! The CTJ band regularly places Top 10 at the bands of America National Championship and were also the 2020 UIL 6A Texas State Champions!

Another fun fact about CTJ is that they have FIVE Feature Twirlers, and the band program does their best to help break the stigma that you can’t be successful in BOA with baton twirlers. Last year at the BOA National Championship, they had four different twirlers perform at key moments in their show, and still placed 7th in the Nation! You have to love a school where the band director supports their twirlers and highlights the hard work and skill it takes to be successful in this activity. 

This year, the CTJ band has five Feature Twirlers – Dylan Butler (Head Twirler), Sophie O’Reilly, Gabi Rosito, Madisen Curry, and Kinsey Simeon!

We asked the twirlers how they earned their positions, and they told us about their audition process. 
According to Dylan, “Auditioning at CTJ is pretty simple- our head band director, Mr. Lipman, gives us a date and time to meet in the school gym and we all go and perform a UIL routine (or something similar) for the directors, parents, other twirlers, and twirling coordinator, and then Mr. Lipman lets us know the results almost immediately.” Madisen added that, “We are blessed in that our wonderful director, Jarrett Lipman, and our coach Jodie Rhodes, see us all as individuals with different skills and that we are all featured for our uniqueness on the team. Some of us are dancers, some of us do great with tricks, and some of us are great at both!” With having a large group of Features, once they were selected, the Band Director made sure to set the tone for the year. As Kinsey told us, “After we all went, the band director talked to us about the responsibilities of being a twirler and how we are a team from the start to the finish of this season.” Love that!

With coming from such a well know school, we wanted to know what the twirlers love the most about going to CTJ. Madisen is proud of the school’s attention to fine arts. “The best thing about our school is the pride in the fine arts including band and choir.” Dylan seconds that and says the relationships between organizations are inspiring. “There are a lot of unique and amazing things about Johnson, but my favorite is the relationship between spirit and athletic groups. The Johnson community does a fantastic job supporting all spirit and athletic teams, and each team supports each other. One of my favorite memories from last year was the band performance that the varsity football team came out and watched on a Saturday night because I don't know of many other school’s football team that goes to band-only events. It was incredible.” In addition to the school spirit and support, while Gabi loves the Football Games, and Sophie loves the friends she has made, Kinsey enjoys the actual school building! “It may not seem like it, but I really like the layout of the school. The way the school was built is very organized and its surprisingly simple and easy to find your classes. I also really love our school colors and mascot! Go Jags!”

Being at a school with so much student support also comes with some wonderful traditions. Gabi says her favorite tradition is when they get to perform the fight song because it really connects her to the school spirit. Dylan says she loves kicking off each school year with “Meet the Jags”. “At the very beginning of each school year, the Johnson community hosts a “Meet the Jags” night where every spirit group, athletic team, and major club come out to one of our district stadiums and we introduce everyone to each other, the jungle (our student section), and friends and family members in the community. It’s a fun and excitement-filled way to kick off the school year and support each other.” Sophie says her favorite tradition is one she hasn’t been able to participate in yet but cannot wait to be a part of. “I love the Senior Sunrise! Even though I’m not a senior yet, I think it is so cool!”

In addition to the regular school traditions, CTJ has one very special tradition each spring. Claudia Taylor Johnson High School was named for former first lady, “Ladybird” Johnson. One thing the real CTJ loved was wildflowers, especially her Texas bluebonnets. Madisen and Kinsey both love that she is honored on campus with these flowers. As Kinsey says, “I always love how the staff makes sure we have bluebonnets during the spring around the school grounds in honor of "Lady Bird" Johnson. It represents how important it is to keep nature in our surroundings, plus, I personally think bluebonnets are the prettiest flowers in the world!”

Before we learn more about these twirlers as individuals, we wanted to learn more about what they are looking forward to the most this year. Sophie & Dylan look forward to the football games every week, as well a special event they will be attending with their twirling team. As Dylan told us, “As usual, I’m really excited for the football and marching band season, but this year, my twirling team is going to Disneyland in November and leading the Christmas Fantasy Parade down Main Street, which is something I’m really looking forward to.” Madisen is most excited about their show this year, “I am looking forward to finishing our marching show called “Out There” and putting it all together on the field,” while Gabi is already looking forward to Winterguard Season starting in a little over a month! Finally, Kinsey is happy to finally be a part of the full experience. “I'm really excited for our first marching band competition now that I have a main role in the front ensemble. My 6th and 7th grade yr I twirled and danced in the Circle of Life and Know Who You Are shows but this time I'm actually a student at CTJ and not just a special guest jag cub!”

Now that we know more about being a part of Jag Nation, let’s learn more about these twirlers!

Dylan Butler (
Head Twirler), Junior
Competition Level: Intermediate

Dylan has been twirling for 8 years and is coached by Michele Sweet Pangrac of the Twirling Sweet Sensations. The competition title she is the proudest of earning was the 2022 Beginner Junior Texas State Pageant Winner. Dylan’s favorite field trick is a toss layback or toss bow. In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by Savannah Miller and Caroline Carothers. After High School she would love to become a collegiate twirler as well as pursue a degree in Forensic Psychology. “One day I hope to work for the FBI!”

Sophie O’Reilly
, Sophomore
Competition Level: Advanced

Sophie has been twirling for 4.5 years and is coached by Michele Sweet Pangrac of the Twirling Sweet Sensations. Her favorite field trick is a toss walkover. In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by her coach, Michele Pangrac. After High School, Sophie hopes to move to New York. 

Gabi Rosito
, Sophomore
Competition Level: Advanced

Gabi has been twirling for 6 years and is coached by Mary Ann Pozzi of Heart of Texas Twirling, as well as Michael Lopez. The competition title she is the proudest of was winning the Intermediate X-Strut for her individual age at AYOP. Her favorite field trick is a toss round off back handspring. In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by Savannah Miller. After high school she hopes to twirl in college. 

Madisen Curry
, Sophomore
Competition Level: Beginner

Madisen has been twirling for five years and is currently coached by Mary Ann Pozzi of the Heart of Texas Twirlers. The competition title she was the proudest of earning was winning her pageant at the 2022 San Antonio Twirling Festival. Her favorite things to do on the field are two baton and “any chance to incorporate my dance background in my routine.” In baton twirling she has been most inspired by current UTSA Twirler, Stephanie Garza, and her coach, Mary Ann. After High School she hopes to twirl in college and major in music. “I want to be a choir director!"
Kinsey Simeon
, Freshman
Competition Level: Intermediate

Kinsey has been twirling for six years and is coached by Pat Montgomery of the Alamo City Strutters, as well as Cynthia Proctor from Cynergy Dance Studio. Her favorite field trick is a toss front walkover. In baton twirling she has been most inspired by current Penn State Majorette, Bethany Williams. After High School she knows she wants to go to college but is not quite sure what she wants to major in yet. 

Fun Facts!
  • Favorite Color – “Pastel colors, especially blue” (Dylan), Red (Sophie), Purple (Gabi), Yellow (Madisen), Red (Kinsey)
  • Favorite Movie and/or TV Show – “Top Gun: Maverick” & “Psych” (Dylan), “Rick & Morty” (Sophie), “Goonies” (Gabi), “Glee” (Madisen), “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (Kinsey)
  • Favorite Book – “Wonder” (Dylan), “Periji and Me” (Sophie), James Patterson’s “Women’s Murder Club” series (Gabi), “The Summer I Turned Pretty” (Madisen), “Echo” (Kinsey)
  • Favorite Food Item – Coussins de Lyon (Dylan), Mac and Cheese (Sophie), Sushi (Gabi), “Bill Miller’s anything!” (Madisen), Potato Soup (Kinsey)

Favorite Quote(s)…
  • Dylan - “Check and adjust” and “With friends like these, who needs enemies” (both said by Mr. Lipman) 
  • Sophie – “Everything happens for a reason.”
  • Gabi – “Be Kind. Do Good. Dream Big. Love Hard. Take Naps.”
  • Madisen – “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”  ~ Lady Bird Johnson
  • Kinsey – “Success is failure turned inside out.”

When they are not twirling, they love to…
  • Dylan – “Relax and hang out with my team members.”
  • Sophie – “Paint and cook.”
  • Gabi – “Do Colorguard.”
  • Madisen – “Sing, sing, sing!”
  • Kinsey – “Dance at Cynergy Dance Studio and draw/sketch.”

Something people might not know about them is…
  • Dylan – “I volunteered with the Schertz Humane Society when I was younger and have fostered/adopted out over 100 cats, kittens, and dogs throughout my life.”
  • Sophie – “I am an only child.”
  • Gabi – “I have a horse.”
  • Madisen – “I am a Duchess for the San Antonio Lutheran Coronation and am in the process of making a 9-foot adorned train for Coronation in April 2023 made completely out of beads and rhinestones.  I am the Duchess of Warmth of Comfort and Culture for this 2023 Coronation.”
  • Kinsey – “I've been dancing for 10 yrs and I've recently earned my ballet pointe shoes!”

The best non-twirling life skill they have gained from baton twirling is…
  • Dylan – “Time management! Being involved in a champion band and twirling team while I’m also taking advanced level courses in school has truly taught me the importance of planning things out and making time for everything.”
  • Sophie – “How to be a nurse.”
  • Gabi – “There's always someone better than me that I can learn from.”
  • Madisen – “I have learned that there are few days off when you really need to get better at your skill!”
  • Kinsey – “It teaches me time management and to be organized (I wasn't before it to be honest)."

Most memorable advice from their Coach(es)…
  • Dylan – “Sometimes, you need a good cry and to hit each end of the baton on the ground before picking it back up and trying it again.”
  • Sophie – “Pull up!”
  • Gabi – “Just be YOU out there.”
  • Kinsey – “"I want you to come in like a brick through a glass window" is what she said to me when I got done with a twirl competition that I wasn't happy with, afterwards I hope I came into the next competitions, like a brick through a glass window!”

Best advice for future high school twirlers…
  • Dylan – “If something scares you or doesn’t work, that’s exactly what you need to spend the most time on.” 
  • Sophie – “Do lots of reps.”
  • Gabi – “Have fun and stay humble.”
  • Madisen – “Always stretch and breathe before twirling.”
  • Kinsey – “Be nice and support each other!  Thats all you really have to do; it may not seem like much but it's really important even if you're on different teams, because there aren't many twirlers out there and we really need to stick together!  Some of my favorite twirl friends are on other teams and even from other states! Also, stretching is important as is time management as you get older!”

Favorite memory as a baton twirler…
  • Dylan – “Performing my twirling part in our marching show at Lucas Oil Stadium during the Grand Nationals Finals competition.”
  • Sophie – “Twirling in the Fiesta Flambeau parade.”
  • Gabi – “Late night talks at Nationals.”
  • Madisen – “My mom and dad always making faces or gestures to cheer me on before performing."
  • Kinsey – “Being one of the Lion Cubs in Circle of life with the CTJ Band when I was in 6th grade and being the youngest twirler to perform at Bands of America Grand Nationals in Indy!”

Funniest memory as a baton twirler…
  • Dylan – “During the 2021 Southwest Regionals pageant solo competition, I stepped on the back of my jazz shoe as I started my solo and performed the entire routine with the heel of my shoe off of my foot.”
  • Sophie – “Knocking out a tooth.”
  • Gabi – “Creating Mentos Tik Toks at AYOP 2022.”
  • Madisen – “Twirling weekly with Gabi and her silly nature!”
  • Kinsey – “I'd say my funniest memory was from this past state competition. I believe it was during my X-strut when it happened but in the middle of the routine I dropped my baton, and while I was running to grab it my foot kicked it further away which ended up coasting me some time, but hey, I still ended up in the top 5!”

Favorite thing about Marching Season…
  • Dylan – “Football games. The atmosphere, the stand tunes, the football, the twirling, the crowd, the marching… everything about football games is truly incredible.”
  • Sophie – “The people.”
  • Gabi – “Being on the rifle line in the Colorguard.”
  • Madisen – “The sound of the band and the great feeling from marching clarinet and twirling.”
  • Kinsey – “Making new friends, every year I'm guessing you'd get to meet more and more people especially since you have to spend almost a whole month with them. Even though I've only been here for a few months, I'm already excited to meet younger people after me who have the same passion for band as I do!"

Favorite band tradition or inside joke…
  • Dylan – “Before our Semi-finals and Finals performances at BOA San Antonio and the UIL Texas State competition, the entire brass section of the band makes a huge circle, holds hands, and sings the national anthem.”
  • Sophie – “We get candy every game day.”
  • Gabi – “Before going to perform/compete the Guard has "circle time". It is a special time for us to come together.”
  • Madisen – “Everywhere we go, it seems everyone knows CTJ.  We always do unique shows.  Look out for Matt the Cat!  Mr. Lipman loves the twirling team!”
  • Kinsey – “Every once in a while, during a 9 to 9 or just a Saturday practice, when we're on our lunch break we like to walk to sonic and order drinks and ice cream. It's super fun and enjoyable when your friends are making silly jokes along the way.”

What they will miss the most when marching season is over…
  • Dylan – “The thing I’ll miss most after marching season will probably be football games. Looking forward to the game every week is really exciting, and I love being at the games with my band family.” 
  • Sophie – “The people.”
  • Gabi – “Performing in the Alamodome.”
  • Madisen – “Everyone being together almost every day, and that this is the last year my brother and I will be in band together because he is a senior!”
  • Kinsey – “I'll miss all of the goofy tan lines we get during band camp!”

We want to thank these ladies for sharing their Game Day with us, and we with them a wonderful rest of their football and marching band season. Go Jags!

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, September 21, 2022

Collegiate Twirler Spotlight - University of Hawai'i Feature Twirler

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

What a great weekend of College Football. Many great moments, including some awesome field twirling. We loved getting to follow along with this Rainbow Warrior Feature Twirler as she took over our Instastory on Saturday, and now we are excited to have her as this week’s Collegiate Twirler Spotlight.
This week’s Spotlight is the University of Hawai’i Feature Twirler, Callyn Marvell!

The University of Hawai’i at Manoa is located on the beautiful island of Honolulu. Home of the Rainbow Warriors, this paradise offers an amazing educational opportunity, as well as the ability to twirl alongside the UH Marching Band. This year, the University of Hawaii at Manoa Feature Twirler is Callyn Marvell!

We wanted to know what brought Callyn to Hawai’i for college, and she said she had always wanted to go there. “I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in Hawai’i!” It was also a bonus to find out that in addition to getting to attend school in paradise, the band program offered a partial scholarship and a stipend for costumes as well. The position is extra fun because Callyn also gets the chance to perform at Women’s Volleyball Games in addition to the football games. 

The interview process was a little complicated due to the distance between Texas and Hawai’i, but thanks to her many years competing in interview, Callyn was ready for it. “The initial audition process was to send in a video. Mine included a full routine on the field, multiple batons, and some competition excerpts. Months later, after I was admitted to the school, I was informed I was one of two candidates, and then we had a Skype video (since this was before the days of Zoom). Later that week I was notified that I was chosen!” 

Some schools have their twirler re-audition each year, and we asked Callyn how UH does this process. “Initially I asked if I needed to re-audition, but because we were in the years of Covid, they have welcomed me back each year with open arms and will until I’m done with my time at Hawai’i.”

The years of Covid did have their effects on her experience in Hawai’i, but she has made the best of it, and has enjoyed some of the changes. “During Covid we lost our stadium, but luckily for me, we now play at our campus, which is absolutely wonderful as it is easier for everybody to get to, but it does limit the amount of people that get to go including students.”

With this year mostly back to normal, we wanted to know what Callyn was looking forward to the most. “Hawaii was a little more shut down than most of the states on the mainland, so what I am most excited about is going back in person with a full capacity crowd at games! We also get to have pep rallies again!”

Callyn Marvell

Callyn is a senior majoring in dietetics, “which does require a master’s degree, so this isn’t my last year of school quite yet”. She is from San Antonio, TX, and has been twirling for 15 years. In addition to being the Feature Twirler, Callyn is also an RA and a sister in the Phi Mu Sorority. 

Fun Facts!
  • Favorite Colors – Pink & Yellow
  • Favorite Food – Poke
  • Favorite Bible Verse – Philippians 4:13

When she is not twirling, she loves to…
“Spend a day at the beach!”

The best non-twirling life skill she has gained from baton twirling is…
“Definitely interview! I do think that it has helped me in being able to make speeches and to earn the Feature Twirler position after my 20-minute-long live Skype interview.”

Advice for future Collegiate Twirlers…
“First, I would say to make sure to start learning your multiple batons early. The second thing would be to remember you can do anything you set your mind to!”

While being out of state comes with its own adventures, it also has its challenges. “I believe the hardest thing about being so far out of state was probably dealing with Covid. When things were just so uncertain it was hard to be away. However, the best way to deal with being out of state is having technology. When I miss home, I just remember that I can talk and text anybody, or even FaceTime like I’m in the next room.”

We want to say thank you to Callyn for sharing her Game Day with us, and we wish her an amazing rest of her Senior year season. Go Bows!

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. 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Friday Night Lights Feature - Elysian Fields High School

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

Another great weekend of twirling all over Texas, and we could not love it more! That also means it is time for another Friday Night Lights Feature Interview with one of our fabulous Texas High School twirlers. 

This Weekend’s FNL Feature is the Elysian Fields High School Feature Twirler!

Elysian Fields High School, located in Elysian Fields, TX, is the home of the Yellowjackets, and this week’s featured twirler, Teresa Hall! Teresa is the Senior Line Captain at EFHS, and also a competition twirler. You may have seen her at USTA contests around Texas & Louisian, as well as USTA Nationals. 

Teresa loves being a part of Yellowjacket Nation. “My favorite thing about EFHS is how nice and friendly everyone is!” She also loves all the school traditions, but her favorite, of course, happens on Game Days! “Going in the halls on Friday and singing the school song and then shouting “GO JACKETS” is so much fun, and a tradition I always enjoy.”

Now that we have learned a little about life at EFHS, let’s learn more about Teresa!

Teresa Hall,
Twirling Line Captain

Competition Level: Senior AA
Teresa has been twirling for 14 years and works with coach Lori Perkins. The competition title she is the proudest of earning was the Winter Diva. Her favorite field trick is a toss cartwheel. In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by current University of Oklahoma Feature Twirler, Emily Perkins. After High School Teresa hopes to attend ULM for Speech Pathology and be the Feature Twirler. 

Fun Facts!
  • Favorite Color – Teal
  • Favorite TV Show – Grey’s Anatomy
  • Favorite Book – Hunger Games
  • Favorite Food Item – Crawfish

Favorite Quote Motto…
“You don’t have to be perfect to be enough”

When she is not twirling, she loves to... 
“I love to hang out with my friends.”

Something most people might not know about her is… 
“I am in One Act Play at school.”

The best non-twirling life skill she has gained from baton twirling is…
“How to talk to people in an interview process.”

Most memorable advice from her Coach…
“You know the routine, you have put in the work, so now go out there and have fun with it!”

Advice to future High School Twirlers…
“Don’t give up on your tricks and always have a sweat towel.”

Favorite memory as a Baton Twirler…
“Putting in the work on my toss cartwheel and finally catching it.”

Funniest memory as a Baton Twirler… 
“At Regional camp, all the girls stayed at my house, and we hid in the back of my dad’s truck and scared my mom.”

Favorite thing about being in band…
“My favorite thing would have to be the time before we go perform when we all sit in the band hall and just hangout and laugh.”

Favorite tradition within the band program...
“Everyone screaming “I love band” when something bad happens like rain pouring down and practice getting delayed or us doing a run through for the 100th time.”

What will you miss most when marching season is over…
“One thing I will miss is Friday nights in the stands playing some of my favorite songs and having so much fun with friends. Another thing I will miss is the band camp practices when we all are tired and want to go home but we make some silly joke, and everyone laughs.”

We want to thank Teresa for sharing her Game Day with us, and we wish her a wonderful rest of her Senior Season! Go Yellowjackets!

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, September 14, 2022

Collegiate Twirler Spotlight - University of Texas Feature Twirler

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

We hope everyone enjoyed the crazy weekend of college football! So many beautiful twirlers on fields all over Texas. If you were following our Story on Instagram you got to experience an especially exciting Game Day with a very talented twirler that is also being featured in our first Collegiate Interview of the season.

Today's Collegiate Twirler Spotlight is the University of Texas Feature Twirler, Aidyn Mentry!

Austin, Texas, is the home of the University of Texas Longhorns, as well as a wonderful lineage of amazing twirlers that have sparkled and shined on the field at Darrel K Royal Stadium. The most recent addition to the sisterhood of Longhorn Feature Twirlers is Virginia native, Aidyn Mentry! Aidyn is currently in her second year as the UT Feature Twirler, and we know Longhorn Nation loves watching her perform and bring the “sass and smiles” to Game Day!
We wanted to know what brought Aidyn to Austin, and she told us it was all about being a Longhorn! “UT has been my dream school for years now, purely based on academics. It had the best program in the country for my major and the timing of the twirling position happened to work out perfectly! I had to work hard to get into UT and go through the audition process knowing that I had already fully committed to UT, but in the end, it was so worth it and totally meant to be. Every single day at UT challenges me in the best way and is such a dream come true!”

Getting such a prestigious twirling position must take a lot of preparation. We asked Aidyn to tell us about the steps she had to take to earn the position. “The audition process is typically a 3-step process. The first step is applying to UT. (High School academics are critical to this step. You must be accepted to UT before the final audition. The acceptance rate is typically around 30% with out-of-staters around 8%.) Step 2 is the online twirling submission to the Longhorn Band which includes a twirling resume, letters of recommendation, essay, and an initial performance/audition video. The final portion, only once you are an ACCEPTED full time UT student, is a live audition and interview. This typically involves a few traditional UT songs and a stand tune song or halftime show, followed up immediately with a panel interview. The tryout trick requirements include 4+ spins, double illusion/walkover, traveling tricks, advanced bodywork, and multiple baton skills.

Being the only Feature, we wanted to know if Aidyn has to re-audition every year, and she told us that while previously that wasn’t required, the program is changing the guidelines in the future. “Starting in 2025, every member of the Longhorn Band will re-audition each year, including the Drum Major and the Feature Twirler!” We also wanted to know if the program has a coach or sponsor, and she told us that no there is not a specific coach/sponsor, but that the Alumni support is second to none! “I get tons of help from ‘04-’07 Feature Twirler, Whitney Coons, and many of the other incredible UT Alumni Twirlers!”

We thought that such a wonderful opportunity must also come with a scholarship, and Aidyn told us that there is one, as well as many other benefits. “Yes! There is a scholarship in addition to a costumes/equipment budget graciously given by the band. In addition to the scholarship(s) provided by Twirling Alumni, Band Alumni, and the University, many of the events hosted in the future for UT Twirling will benefit the endowed scholarship for future twirlers at UT. The Longhorn Feature Twirler also gets amazing benefits from the band like TONS of free LHB gear and athletics gear, traveling across the country with the LHB, and opportunities to perform at once in a lifetime events for more than 1 million fans a year!”

Having dreamed of attending UT, we knew Aidyn would have many things she loves about being a Longhorn, but we had to know what her favorite was and she said, "Easily the Texas hospitality! I’ve truly never met a stranger on the UT campus and everyone is so incredibly welcoming. The campus is so diverse and there is always something cool going on. I can’t even begin to describe how surreal it feels to wake up every day and see so much inspiring creativity, smiling faces, friendly people, and hardworking attitudes surrounding me."

With loving your school, you also have to love the traditions. The University of Texas has a rich history of traditions which makes it too hard for Aidyn to pick just one favorite. "I have a tie! My favorite University wide tradition is ‘Lighting the Tower’. On campus we have a giant 307-foot-tall tower that lights up burnt orange after any UT ‘victory’. This can be the first day of classes, a sports win, a recognition of a Texas ex, or a major accomplishment of students on campus. My favorite game day tradition is Bevo Boulevard! Bevo Boulevard is a pregame parade where all of the fans and students welcome Bevo, our live longhorn mascot, into the stadium before the game. Fun fact: Bevo is the largest mascot in all of college sports!"

Another big part of being the UT Feature Twirler is performing with the "Showband of the Southwest" which is Aidyn's favorite part of fall season, and this year there are so many extra special things to look forward to including, "twirling with the largest Longhorn Band ever with a record amount of attendance and ticket sales this season, plus a SUPER special surprise to celebrate Big Bertha's 100th birthday! Big Bertha is the Sweetheart of the LHB, she is our 10+ foot tall bass drum that weighs more than 500 pounds!" In addition to Big Bertha and huge crowds, there are so many fun things about being a part of the Longhorn Band. "My favorite tradition is top secret within the LHB, but a few other favorite traditions of mine are “shaking the fringe”, Big Bertha, and the passing down of the Drum Major’s belt buckle to the drum major for the next season!"

Now that we have learned more about being the UT Feature Twirler, let's learn more about Aidyn!

Aidyn Mentry
Aidyn is a Sophomore majoring in Advertising in addition to being on the Texas Creative track (a competitive portfolio building application only program that is well known in the advertising and public relations community). She is originally from Richmond, VA, but now lives in Austin year-round. Aidyn competes in the Collegiate/Advanced division and has been twirling for 12 years. She is coached by Whitney Coons when in Austin, “but I grew up with coaching from the Royalettes in Virginia (Diane Gunnels and Lindsay Salyers).” In addition to being the Feature Twirler, Aidyn is a member of Texas Spirits, an honorary spirit, service, and social organization that is actually the oldest org of its kind on campus! “It’s where I’ve found my home on campus in addition to most of my best friends, future bridesmaids, and lifelong besties. I was also recently selected to be a Texas Exes Student Ambassador on campus! With this position I will work to be a student liaison for our alumni organization on campus, plan and host events with the Texas Exes, help with the class ring ceremony at UT, and act as a cheerleader for alumni-student events.” The competition title she is the proudest of was winning the 2022 Southwest Regional Collegiate Solo Champion. Her favorite competition trick is a triple illusion with a blind catch, and her favorite field trick is a one spin illusion walkover catch backhand, or five baton! In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by Savannah Miller and Laney Puhalla. “They are definitely my biggest twirling inspirations. I also really look up to so many of the former University of Texas Feature Twirlers because all of them are so incredibly hardworking and humble, not to mention incredibly generous with their time and advice.” After college, Aidyn hopes to work on a major entertainment project like Austin City Limits or Coachella as a Creative Director.

Fun Facts!
  • Favorite Color – “Burnt Orange, of course! Closely followed by barbie pink!”
  • Favorite Movie – “La La Land”
  • Favorite Book – “Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon
  • Favorite Food Item – “Peanut butter chocolate Texas sheet cake!”
When she is not twirling, she loves to… 
“Bake, craft, cook, sketch twirling costumes, hangout with friends, and pet every dog that I see!”

Something most people might not know about her is… 
“I design and rhinestone all of my own twirling costumes and I love drawing costumes for others too!”

The best non-twirling life skill she has gained from baton twirling is…
“Time management! Practicing more than 10 hours a week in addition to performances, appearances, schoolwork, social activities, and volunteering can be crazy, but having a schedule and a way to manage the time you have is such a necessary skill!”

Most Memorable Advice from her Coach…
“As long as you are having fun, the audience will be too. Don’t be afraid to show your excitement on big tricks or interact with the fans mid-performance, it can make all of the difference!”

Advice to Future Collegiate Twirlers…
“Have as many people watch you twirl as humanly possible ESPECIALLY during the college audition process! Every single person, even parents, siblings, friends, and neighbors, all have different ideas and perspectives and can see different things. Don’t be afraid to show off your routines and keep an open mind to the feedback that you are given, no matter who it comes from.”
Favorite Memory as a Baton Twirler…
“My first ever pregame for UT. I had a few tears roll down my face when I sat back and realized how many people came together to support the school that we all love so much!”
Funniest Memory as a Baton Twirler…
“Definitely kicking and falling in front of the whole band last year during a practice when the turf was really wet.”
What advice would you give to a twirler about to go into college auditions…
“Don’t second guess yourself. You have been training for so long and you are more prepared than you think. The audience, the audition panel, and even your coaches don’t know the routine as well as you do, so don't let a tiny fumble, a drop, or forgetting an element of your routine change your attitude, quality of performance, or your smile!”

During the college audition process, Aidyn made the decision to go out of state. We asked her about that decision, how she handles being away from home, and if there is anything she misses about being away for college. “Personally, I had my eyes on going out of state for as long as I can remember. I felt that I had greater opportunities if I traveled a little further from home and pushed my limits. The convenience of knowing everyone and knowing where everything is has really been the biggest change for me, but the easiest way to solve that is to push yourself to do new things and meet new people. I am completely and totally in love with Austin, so I actually am never really homesick. My parents visit me for every home football game, so I barely have a chance to miss them before they are back the next weekend for a game! The one thing I miss is my dog, Tater! I would tell anyone looking to go out of state to keep an open mind. I have done so many things that I never would have pictured for myself 2 years ago. Try to stay open to trying new things, meeting new people, and changing your habits to fit your new college lifestyle.”

Finally, we asked Aidyn to share with us the one thing she would want to share with those looking to one day also be a Feature Twirler for their University. “One thing that I always want people to know about UT specifically, but also the college twirling process in general, is that academics are more important than just about everything else. No matter how much you love a school or a program, you have no chance to audition if you aren't accepted first. UT Austin’s instate acceptance rate is around 30%, while the out of state acceptance rate is 8%. Being out of state for your favorite university can be hard, but focusing on your academics in order to be accepted will make it all worth it! One of my coaches always said “You will have no way to show them your hard work in twirling if you don’t show them your hard work in school first!”.” So true, and great words to live by!

We want to thank Aidyn for sharing her insights into collegiate twirling as well as her Game Day experience with us. We know Aidyn will continue to shine on the field this season and we wish her many more “no drop” performances this fall. Hook ‘Em Horns! 

Interested in learning more about possibly becoming a future Longhorn Feature Twirler, or want the chance to learn from Aidyn and other UT Twirling Alum? Make sure to check out the 2022 UT Twirler Day & Feature Twirler Clinic on November 12th & 13th. More info can be found at the UT Twirler Day & Feature Twirler Clinic Registration Link.  We hope to see everyone there!

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. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Friday Night Lights Feature - Flour Bluff High School

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

What a great weekend of Texas twirlers on both the high school and collegiate fields. We just love seeing their smiling faces back where they belong. So much joy and so many sparkles! We also loved following this week’s Friday Night Lights Feature this past Friday as they took over the Instastory, and we are excited to learn more about them! 

Today’s FNL Feature is the Flour Bluff High School Feature Twirlers!

Flour Bluff High School is located in Corpus Christi, Texas, and is the home of the Hornets. It is also the home of a great legacy of high school twirlers, including this year’s Feature Twirlers: Mia Olivarez, Delaney Laza, Arielle Garcia, Sarah Martinez, and Madison Tapia!

We asked these twirlers how they got their positions as the FBHS Feature Twirlers, and they told us about their audition process. “Last March when we showed up to the twirler tryout camp, our director saw how good of a skill dynamic we all already had, so then and there, he decided that an audition wasn’t needed, and that he already had the feature twirler group for the new season!”

In the Bluff there is a ton of Hornet pride, which is exactly what these twirlers appreciate the most about their school. “We love all the school spirit and support we all have for one another.” This spirit leads to their favorite school tradition, which is when they sing their alma mater on the buses on the way home from games. This tradition is special to them because they love any chance to support their Hornets!

To be a FBHS Feature Twirler, they are a part of the band program and perform at games. Their favorite thing about being in the band program is “getting to perform and just put on a show instead of thinking about being in a competition”. Being in the band comes with its own set of traditions. The band tradition they most enjoy is when they get to ‘Suck now, not later!’. “It’s a bit of a good luck tradition both the guard and twirlers do right before we go on for halftime. We all circle up and put our hands in the middle, and then Mia gives each person a mint. On the count of 3, we all pop it in and shout ‘suck now, not later!’”

Now that we have learned about being a part of Hornet Nation, let’s learn more about these twirlers!

Mia Olivarez,
Feature Twirler Captain

Competition Level: Advanced
Mia has been twirling for 14 years. She is coached by Keely Davis of the Texas Elite. The competition title she is the proudest of earning is the 2022 Junior Miss Majorette of Texas. Her favorite field trick is “anything four batons!” In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by her former teammate, and current Texas State University Feature Twirler, Cayla Watson. After High School, Mia hopes to be a feature twirler at a big university while studying medicine to eventually become a nurse practitioner.

Delaney Laza
, Senior
Competition Level: Intermediate

Delaney is coached by Keely Davis of the Texas Elite. Her favorite field trick is a toss cartwheel high kick. In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by Caroline Carothers. After High School she hopes to go complete her undergrad and then go to law school. 

Arielle Garcia
, Sophomore
Competition Level: Beginner

Arielle has been twirling for nine years, and she is coached by Kim Berger & Keely Davis. The competition title she is the proudest of winning was the Basic Skills Pageant at a local contest. Her favorite field trick is a toss cartwheel. After High School she plans to go to college, become a college twirler, and be an elementary teacher. 

Sarah Martinez
, Freshman
Competition Level: Beginner

Sarah is coached by Kim Berger, Keely Davis, and Stephanie Garza. Her favorite field trick is a toss cartwheel. In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by her teammate/coach, and current UTSA Twirler, Stephanie Garza. After High School she hopes to attend college at UTSA.

Madison Tapia
, Freshman
Competition Level: Beginner

Madison is coached by Kim Berger and Keely Davis. Her favorite field trick is a toss flash out. In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by current San Diego State University Feature Twirler, Kaylynn Lambert. After High School, Madison hopes to twirl in college. 

Fun Facts!
  • Favorite Color: Emerald Green (Mia), Pink (Delaney), Purple (Arielle), Gray (Sarah), Purple or Red (Madison)
  • Favorite Movie or TV Show: “’LaLa Land’ will forever be my favorite movie!” (Mia), ‘Gilmore Girls’ (Delaney), ‘Monsters University’ (Arielle), ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Joker’ (Sarah), ‘The Bachelorette’ (Madison)
  • Favorite Book: “It is currently ‘When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi, but it is constantly changing.” (Mia), The Harry Potter series (Delaney), “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” (Arielle), “It Ends With Us” by Colleen Hoover (Sarah), “Fish in a Tree” (Madison)
  • Favorite Food Item: All kinds of fruit (Mia), Sushi (Delaney, Arielle, & Madison), Cheese sticks with ranch (Sarah)
Favorite Quote…
  • Mia – “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
  • Arielle – “It is not where you start, but where you finish.”
  • Sarah – “Yes!”
  • Delaney – “She believed she could, so she did!”
When they are not twirling, they love to…
  • Mia – “Read!”
  • Delaney – “Go to the beach.”
  • Arielle – “Clean while watching TV.”
  • Sarah & Madison – “Listen to music.”

Something you might not know about them is…
  • Mia – “I am obsessed with Pitbull!”
  • Delaney – “I like to bake.”
  • Arielle – “I like to roller skate.”
  • Sarah – “I enjoy reading.”
The best non-twirling skill they have gained from baton twirling…
  • Mia – “What it truly means to be a leader and how to effectively lead a team.”
  • Delaney – “Perseverance.” 
  • Arielle – “How to deal with adversity.”
  • Sarah – “The importance of good sportsmanship.”
  • Madison – “Learning to fail”.
Most memorable advice from one of their coaches…
  • Mia – “Focus on performing rather than competing.”
  • Delaney – “Just smile big.”
  • Arielle – “Practice like you are in front of the judges.”
  • Sarah – “Use your talent wisely.”
  • Madison – “Always practice!”

Advice for future High School twirlers…
  • Mia – “Always be open to trying new things and learning in different ways.”
  • Delaney – “Don’t let the losses get to you. Just let them motivate you to work harder.”
  • Arielle – “To have fun and make memories.”
  • Sarah – “Don’t give up!”
  • Madison – “Don’t be hard on yourself. You will get there!”
Favorite memory as a twirler…
  • Mia – “When I accidentally left a baton behind before my team went on the floor to compete, so my poor teammate had to “air baton” her way through the routine.”
  • Delaney – “Going to AYOP.”
  • Arielle – “Our team bonding at P. F. Chang’s.”
  • Sarah – “Before halftime performances with the twirlers.”
  • Madison – “My first game!”
Funniest memory as a twirler…
  • Mia – “When the baton slipped out of my hand during rehearsal one day, and it accidentally hit one of our trumpet players right in the middle of his face!”
  • Delaney – “Someone’s baton got stuck in the ceiling.”
  • Arielle – “Taking funny pictures of each other at rehearsal.”
  • Sarah – “When Madison got stung by a bee during rehearsal one day and insisted on continuing because she was fine.”
  • Madison – “When I got stung by a bee at rehearsal.”
We want to say thank you to these awesome twirlers for sharing their Game Day and their advice with us. We hope they all have a wonderful time shining on the field this season. Go Hornets!

We hope you have enjoyed this edition of our FNL Feature. Have a favorite High School or Collegiate Twirler that you would like to see interviewed? Please contact us at texastwirlcontact@gmail.com with their name and email address so that we can reach out to them!