Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Night Lights Feature - Steele High School Twirlers

Hello Texas Twirl Fans! Welcome to the second round of our Friday Night Lights Features.

This week we travel to the bright lights in Cibolo, Texas, to learn about the Steele High School twirlers – Abby Neuman, Julie Griffee, and Melinda Branson. The three SHS Sparklers are members of the Twirling Sweet Sensations twirling team and are coached by Michele Pangrac, Mary Ann Srulowitz, and Lori Michelle.  

In order to earn their spots, they had to learn an ensemble routine and perform it for the band directors and judges. These three very much value their twirling experience and say that “baton twirling, especially on a line, has taught us a lot about confidence and teamwork”. From this they have developed their best advice to future High School twirlers, which is, “don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Twirling in high school requires motivation in order to see the results you've dreamed of”.

Having this unity and the confidence they have built together they achieved their favorite moment of field twirling, which was when they had a no-drop during their first half-time performance of the year. With two of these ladies graduating this spring, they begin to think of what they will miss the most. They say “what we will miss the most is being able to see each other almost every day. We were once just teammates, but now we are sisters”. If that doesn’t give you the feels, I don’t know what will!

Now let’s learn a little more about our three Steele Knights!

 Abby Neuman, Senior, Competition Level: Intermediate
Abby has been twirling for 10 years. She is most proud of winning the title of 2016 Senior Intermediate Texas State Pageant Winner. Her favorite competition trick is her horizontal release across the back, left to right, with a one spin to the right, catch in splits, and her favorite field trick is fishtails (she says the crowd loves it!). After high school she wants to be a twirler in college and graduate with a degree in sociology and theology so she can be a youth minister.

 Julie Griffee, Senior, Competition Level: Beginner
Julie has been twirling for 7 years. She is most proud of winning the title of 2016 Senior Beginner Texas State Pageant Winner. Her favorite competition trick is a toss catch in a scorpion, and her favorite field movements are leaps and illusions. After high school, Julie plans on going to go to college and eventually becoming a Veterinarian.

Melinda Branson, Junior, Competition Level: Beginner
Melinda has been twirling for 4 years. She is most proud of winning the title of Basic Skills Pageant Winner. Her favorite competition trick is her 3 spin, and her favorite field movement is doing the splits with her teammates. After High School, Melinda plans to go to college and become a veterinarian or a band director.

Who are they most inspired by? Abby says “My coach, Michele Pangrac. (She) has always inspired me because of her excellence and success in twirling as well as the constant love she shows all her students”. Melinda & Julie both say they are most inspired by Miss Texas, Caroline Carothers. Julie says “not only is she an amazing twirler and is very successful, but she also works with twirling for the cure and really cares about helping others” and Melinda says “she is kind to all of her teammates but makes twirling look fluid and easy”. Such high praise!

Fun Facts!
Color: Purple (Abby & Julie), Blue (Melinda)
Movie: Harry Potter (Julie & Melinda), Zootopia (Abby)
What do they like to do when they are not twirling?
      *Abby – I love singing for my church's teen band
      *Julie – I write, read, and take pictures of sunsets and sunrises 
      *Melinda – I love to read
Something you might not know about these girls:
      *Abby – I've been singing in choir since first grade
      *Julie – By the end of this year I will have 72 college credit hours
      *Melinda – I march tuba in the band 

Best advice ever given by their coach?
  • Abby: “You know how good you are and that's enough... the judge doesn't see your work in the gym." 
  • Julie: “’Watch the baton’. This sounds obvious, but if you think ahead and worry about what's coming up, you can forgot to really watch and focus on the moment”
  • Melinda: “Relax and make the motions fluid”
Favorite Quote:
  • Abby: “When you do something beautiful and nobody notices, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps”. -John Lennon
  • Julie: "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." - Leo Buscaglia (Julie says “This quote shows my motto because I always make it a point to talk to somebody who seems nervous or lonely. If I see somebody wearing a nice shirt or has pretty eyes I tell them because I know how much one compliment can brighten somebody's day. The way I see it is that if you can make somebody happy so easily, then why would you not take advantage of that?”)
  • Melinda: "Look for something positive in each day, even if some days you have to look a little harder" -anonymous

Favorite Individual Twirling Moments? Abby says “My favorite moment was winning second at state in x-strut when it was my first time competing advanced”. Both Julie & Melinda say it was competing at Nationals. Julie says “My favorite individual twirling moment was being able to compete at nationals and earn 7 medals”. Wow!  

Best School Tradition? “Everyone loves the football players, but no one appreciates the hard work band does. While the band exits the stadium, we give them elbow-bumps (since their hands are full) to show some appreciation.”

Best Band Tradition/Inside Joke? “Any time we are choreographing a routine and suggest a certain dance move, it is guaranteed that someone else will say, "Like this?" and go into the ugliest pose imaginable”. 

Funniest Twirl Moment? “The three of us once when shopping and found some toy batons (the little ones with water in the ends) and decided it would be a good idea to twirl them to our routine. We almost got the end of our mini-performance when one baton went flying and smashed into the ground. Water splashed everywhere and we couldn't help but break down in laughter”. They even had pictures to prove the sheer amount of laughter that followed. Nice job ladies

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

Thursday, September 22, 2016

#TeamTexas Social Media Sites

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

Did you know this blog has had over 9,600 page views in its almost 3 months history? That is not only exciting, but shows that the Texas Twirling Community has a lot of interest in coming together.

We wanted to take a quick moment to reach this audience to point out all the great social media sites available to the NBTA Texas Twirling Community. Every one of them has its own special purpose, so please check them all out, and invite your friends to follow them as well! The more people we have following the sites, the better the information we can share!

1) Do you love this blog? Follow us on Facebook at the Twirling is Catching TX Blog Fan Site to find out every time a new blog is posted. While I enjoy posting it on my personal page, this is a new site to allow for further access of this blog beyond my personal friends page.

2) While you are on Facebook, check out and join the NBTA Texas State Twirlers Facebook Community. This is a private community for sharing pictures and quick news about upcoming events. The moderators even do a FB event for all upcoming contests. It is a great resource!

3)  If you aren't on Facebook, you can go to Instagram and follow @nbtatexastwirlers there. This Instagram account is dedicated to posting photos of Texas Twirlers and includes Save the Dates!

4) We all try to keep track of contest results, but if you need to reference back you can visit This is a tumblr site where photos or files of posted contest results can be found. Please note, these results may not always be complete and are just photos of what was posted or announced.

5) Finally, the biggest resource is going to be found at This website has many sources of information that are valuable to NBTA Twirlers in Texas including:
   *A constantly updated list up upcoming contests -
   *A list of currently known HS & Collegiate twirlers -
   *Useful links and websites for contest & equipment -
   *A continually evolving list of NBTA Texas Coaches -

For any questions, updates, or to provide information for any of these pages, you can email While Texas Twirl doesn't moderate all of these sites, we can make sure your requests end up in the right hands. Thanks everyone!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

UT Permian Basin Twirling & Endowment Update

Hello Texas Twirling Fans!

In supporting the growth of our sport, this blog loves to cover news of new twirling opportunities. Thanks to the dedication of the wonderful Marlene Torres, the 2016-17 Fall Season premiered the first baton twirlers ever at the University of Texas - Permian Basin! This is an exciting opportunity and welcomed three twirlers on to the line for their inaugural season. These three ladies include Emily-Ann Brito, Kaden Ellison, and Cristina Sanchez.

The band director at UTPB, Clayton Harris, has been very supportive of the program and has let Marlene know that ANY high school twirlers (or twirlers that might be in college somewhere else) that might be interested in visiting UTPB, can contact Marlene for assistance in getting complimentary tickets to an upcoming game to come for a visit! They could spend the day with the band, sit with the band, and enjoy a college football game for free. There are 5 more home games this year so please email for more information.

One of the most exciting parts of the new UTPB twirling line is the creation of an endowment fund. This endowment fun will help ensure that twirling continues at UTPB for the duration of the fund's existence. This is where they need your help! Please consider contributing to this endowment. Any amount will help set the future for this program.

Included here is the pledge form to donate money to support this program. You can also click here to get a printable version. If you have any questions or want more information on the endowment fund and how it works, please contact Marlene Torres, We know she would be happy to hear from you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Friday Night Lights Feature - The Woodlands High School Twirlers

Hello Texas Twirl Fans! To help get into the spirit of Football Season, this blog & the NBTA Texas State Twirlers FB Page will highlight some of the High School and Collegiate Twirlers from around the State!

Our first Friday Night Lights Feature is about The Woodlands High School Feature Twirlers - Rachel Hutchinson, Isabel Obias, and Jillian Romaguera. These lovely twirlers are all coached by Patti Mickey.

To maintain their Feature Twirler status, each year The Woodlands HS twirlers audition with a two minute show twirl-style routine to their choice of music in front of a panel of judges.

These three love showing their school pride. They say their favorite school tradition is when they hook pinkies with the football players, cheerleaders, and dance team and sing the school song at the end of every game and pep rally. In fact, they say pep rallies will be the part of HS Twirling they miss the most when they graduate! They will also miss being close to home & their coach.

What do they think is the most important thing that being a HS Twirler has given them? “Friendship, teamwork, and sportsmanship because we are with each other so much and become really close”. They also say they have a great relationship with the band and each other. “We laugh at almost everything hahaha”.

Now let's learn a little more about these three Highlander twirlers:

Rachel Hutchinson, Junior, Competition Level: Advanced 
Rachel has been twirling for only 6 years! In her words “I started older than some, which I think actually helped me to have a ton of dedication and work extremely hard”. She is the most proud of earning the titles Advanced Teenage All-Around Jr. Olympic Champion and Junior Miss Majorette of the Southwest. Her favorite competition trick is her elbow pops and roll combinations, and her favorite field trick is a leap walkover under a high toss. She says “I love field twirling and the best part is when the crowd gets involved!”. After High School Rachel is still exploring different majors but thinking about medical law with a minor in the Spanish language.

Isabel Obias, Senior, Competition Level: Advanced 
Isabel has been twirling for a decade! Her favorite competition trick is the back neck rolls in her 3 baton routine, and her favorite field trick is a Toss Leap Front Walkover Catch (She says “working on it, almost got it!”). She loves whenever she has a no drop routine and she also enjoys when she realizes that the opposing team crowd is really into their twirling. “The crowd will start clapping and yelling compliments. It's such a great feeling to be supported in that way". She is most proud of winning the title of Beginner Miss Twirl Mania 2011 (her first one!). After High School, Isabel plans to become a biomedical engineer and then hopefully work at NASA like her aunt.

Jillian Romaguera, Senior, Competition Level: Intermediate 
Jillian has been twirling for 6 years non-competitively and 3 years competitively. Her favorite competition trick is back neck rolls, and her favorite field trick is a forward roll under a high toss. She is most proud of winning the title of Magnolia Queen. After High School, Jillian plans to graduate college and major in nursing.

Who are they most inspired by? Isabel says she is most inspired by Hollie Neilson and some of the Japanese twirlers. Rachel & Jillian say they are most inspired by Miss Texas 2016, Caroline Carothers. Rachel says “she was so kind and welcoming to me when I was a new twirler and still to this day inspires me, as a twirler and also as a person. I bought a few of her costumes and they always become my lucky costumes!”

Fun Facts!
Favorite Colors = Sky Blue (Rachel) & Purple (Isabel and Jillian)
Favorite Movie = “RV” (Rachel), “Harry Potter & Marvel Movies” (Isabel)
Favorite TV Show = “Parks & Recreation” (Jillian)
Favorite Song = "Can't stop the feeling" by Justin Timberlake (Rachel)
Favorite Quote = "I will do today what others won't so that tomorrow I can do what others can't" (Rachel) Something you might not know about these girls:
         *Rachel = She does her homework in the middle splits.
         *Jillian = She has four older siblings.
         *Isabel = She enjoys going to Comicons.
Best advice ever given by their coach:
         *Isabel = “Batons before boys”
         *Rachel = "Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect”
What do they like to do when they are not twirling?
         *Rachel = Bike with family, walk her dog Lillly, or volunteer at the Animal Shelter.
         *Jillian = Ride her bike or paint her nails.
         *Isabel = Sleep! (we totally feel you there Isabel!)

Favorite/Funniest Twirling Moment:
Rachel: “Going to the iTwirl Conference in Maryland was an amazing experience. I saw so many great twirlers not only all over the country, but also some from other countries, like Canada and Japan. It's also so great when little kids watch and then say "I want to do that"! It means so much because we need to inspire more kids to try twirling and I love doing my best to help promote the sport.”

Isabel: “For my first National Majorette performance Kayli (Mickey) said "Make an entrance". When it was my turn I thought, "Be confident", so I pushed back the blue curtain (maybe a little too excitedly?) and the next thing I knew, it swallowed me up and I trying to free myself from it. I sure made an entrance

Jillian:  Every time she gets to meet lots of new friends!

We hope you have enjoyed the first edition of our Friday Night Lights Feature. Have a favorite High School or Collegiate Twirler that you would like to see interviewed? Please contact us at with their name and email address so that we can reach out to them!