Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday Night Lights Feature - Winston Churchill High School

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

Welcome to the last weekend of Friday Night Lights in September. Can you believe it will be October soon? October brings our first contest entry due date, which means we are less than 50 days from the first contest of the season! If you have not already received the Fall Twirling Festival entry form, you can always find contest info at

This week we are back in San Antonio. Our Friday Night Lights Feature is special today as it is with a school close to my heart, my very own Alma Mater. Charger pride runs deep, so this week I am so happy to interview the Winston Churchill High School Feature Twirler, Stephanie McBurnett!

Stephanie loves being a Charger and a member of the Winston Churchill Marching Band program. One of the things she enjoys the most is the Meet The Chargers event. This is a giant pep rally the Saturday before school starts where they introduce all the sports for Churchill as well as the Clubs and other organizations. "During this event I get to twirl in front of thousands of people!" She also considers getting to twirl fire at the Homecoming pep rallies as one of her favorite moments as a twirler!

The thing she misses the most each year is when Marching Band season ends. She really enjoys the Band Trips and competing in the Bands of America competitions. "I miss getting to have a group to associate with like I have for the first semester". On top of fun trips, they also have lots of inside jokes. One that the band knows all too well is the phrase "Nobody Cares". This is always said to the band by their Band Director, Mr. Ruiz, when anyone in the band is completing about no sleep or homework, etc. As Mr. Ruiz is a very supportive band director, especially to the baton twirler, it is a fun joke between him and the band.

Now that we have learned a little more about Stephanie's involvement with the Charger Band, lets learn a little more about her and her twirling experiences.

Stephanie McBurnett, Junior
Competition Level: Intermediate

Stephanie has been twirling for almost seven years with the Texas Gems and Coach Major Margaret Mann. The title she is the most proud of was being named the 2018 Junior Intermediate Southwest Regional Pageant Winner. Stephanie's favorite competition trick is a leg wrap pop and her favorite field trick is a toss cartwheel catch into a one handed cartwheel, followed by a toss two spin, and then pose. After High School Stephanie hopes to Twirl at TCU and major in finance and minor in business management.

Fun Facts!
Favorite Color: Red and Black (Go Chargers!)
Favorite Animal: Cat (any)
Favorite Movie: Any Disney Movie or Romantic Comedy from the 80's
Favorite Quote: "Nothing is impossible. The word itself says 'I'm Possible'!" - Audrey Hepburn

When she is not twirling she likes to...
"Either sleep, watch Netflix, or hang out with my boyfriend and my friends."

Something people might not know about her is...
"That I'm a total nerd who loves math more than anything."

Current Twirlers she is most inspired by...
*Univ. of Arkansas Feature Twirler, Savannah  Miller, from whom she has learned so much about performing.
*Former Washington Feature Twirler, Catherine Watters as she has been a fabulous mentor to Stephanie!

Most Memorable Advice from her Coach, Major Margaret Mann: 
2) You can do anything you set your mind to!

Best life skill she has learned from baton twirling....
"The skill of interviewing. I have had to use this skill a lot in my school career with district news, student council interviews, and just talking with the other adults in general."

In fact, Stephanie was recently able to utilize these skills as she was interviewed by her school District for their feature piece called "NE 360 Focus". You can find that interview here -> NEISD September 2018 NE360 Focus. What a wonderful interview and opportunity for North East ISD to highlight their baton twirler and all her accomplishments!

On the field with the Charger Band, Stephanie gets to have lots of great opportunities, including an amazing performance at last year's Homecoming game. "I did a no drop at our homecoming game for halftime and caught my double illusion for the first time on the track during a football game!" Wow! Quite a fantastic game!

While she has had lots of awesome moments twirling, there have also been those days that didn't go as well. Stephanie tells us about the time at a pep rally where she had to learn to roll with the punches. "At our pink out pep rally my sophomore year I decided to wear a pair of shoes that I had never tested before, and in the middle of my routine the heel came off! I dropped the whole routine and basically laughed myself through the entire performance just because I was freaking out!"

This moment may have been freak-out worthy for sure, but it did teach her a lesson on how to be mentally prepared in the future for a similar issue. Stephanie wants to share with all future High School twirlers so have a game plan in the event of a costume malfunction. "If your shoe comes off during a performance, take the time to fix it. And do so with grace, poise, and act like it was supposed to happen. Also don’t let drops get to you on the field. The crowd doesn’t know your routine, so handle them with performance quality and don’t stress." Wonderful advice!

We want to thank Stephanie so much for sharing her experiences with us and being this week's Friday Night Lights Feature. We wish her another great year representing the black and red. Go Chargers

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 with their name and email address so that we can reach out to them!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday Night Lights Feature - Central Catholic High School

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

TGIF! It is finally Friday and we are back with the next edition of our Friday Night Lights Features.

This week we are talking to a twirler that has a very unique opportunity to twirl for TWO different schools! The Feature Twirler for both Central Catholic High School and Providence Catholic School, Ali Marotta!

In San Antonio, Texas you can find two different schools that are associated with each other. This is the Central Catholic High School (an all boys school) and next door is the Providence Catholic School (an all girls school). While Ali attends the Providence School, she has the amazing opportunity to twirl at events for both of the schools!

Ali loves getting to be a part of the Central Catholic/Providence community, especially the marching band program. She says the part of school she loves the most is "getting to spend time with the band because we have so much fun at practices, football games, and band trips". In fact, her favorite school tradition comes with the marching band. "The best school tradition at football games would have to be “Wipeout”. The band plays a song while the student section pretends to play along, and then proceeds to form a kickline, which I think makes it the most fun!" That has to be a lot of fun to be a part of!

She has made many great memories within the program, including performing with the band in Ireland last Spring Break, and competing at contests. "My favorite twirling moment with the band program would have to be winning the TAPPS State Championship with the band. It was a privilege to get to participate in the competition band show, and because we won this title, we were picked to be a Feature Band at Battle of the Bands 2018. It was an experience I will never forget!"

Another moment Ali will never forget happened at her first band competition. "In the second book of our show, one of the color guard members was supposed to hand me a flag to twirl, and she accidentally handed it to me completely wrapped up and upside down. I did not have enough time to unravel it, and twirled a pretty short looking flag for part of the song. After the show we laughed about it, and made sure it never happened again!" Those are the kinds of moments you get to look back on and enjoy.

Now that we have learned a little more about being a part of the Central Catholic Band, let's learn a little more about Ali and her twirling experiences.

Ali Marotta, Junior
Competition Level: Intermediate
Ali has been twirling since she was four years old, so for about twelve years, with the Texas Gems and Coach Melinda Mann White. The title she is the most proud of is when she was the Beginner Texas Pageant Winner. Ali's favorite competition trick is a two spin, fan hitch kick, catch backhand in an illusion. "It is a trick I do not see done very often, and it is definitely one of my favorites to perform". Her favorite field trick is a toss cartwheel. "It is super fun to do, and gets the crowd pretty excited!"

Fun Facts!

Favorite Movie: 'Aquamarine'.  "I have loved it ever since I watched it with my older sister Valerie, and we have watched it over and over together ever since".

Favorite Color: Mint Blue. "It is very similar to aquamarine".

Favorite Quote: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13

Most Memorable Advice from  her Coach: "My coach has always told me to go out on the floor and make myself proud".

When she is not twirling she loves to... "Dance! I am a member of the Progressions Dance Troupe at the school I attend, Providence Catholic School. It is so much fun to spend time with my team, even if we are working hard in practice, because that is just what we do".

Something people might not know about her is... "I was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and bulged discs in my back last year. It was a really scary time for my family and I, but after several months of physical therapy, I was able to return to dance and twirling. This experience reminded me to never take my abilities for granted, and made me grateful to be a twirler".

In baton twirling, Ali has been most inspired by the current University of Incarnate Word’s Feature Twirler, Ashley Sneed. "Not only is she a long-time friend of mine, but she currently holds the title of Miss San Antonio, in which she is an amazing role model. I admire her choice of costumes, sassy attitude, and style of twirling, and always look forward to getting her opinions on costumes, routines, and new trick".

After High School, Ali hopes to twirl in college and then attend medical school. We know she will be successful at her goals as she has learned a lot about life from Twirling. When asked what she thinks is the best life skill she has learned from baton twirling, she tells us that it is to "never let fear stop me from doing something I am passionate about. This skill has given me the courage to speak up for myself, stand up for what I believe in, and pursue my dreams, even if they do not seem easy to attain". That is a great attitude!

She also wants to make sure future high school twirlers always remember to have fun! "Performing at football games is one of the best parts of getting to twirl for your school. If it is obvious you are having fun on the field, the crowd will feed off your energy, and love watching you!" Do what you love and love what you do!

We want to say a big thank you to Ali for taking some time to answer our questions. We wish her a wonderful Fall marching season and we cannot wait to see where the next couple years take her. Way to go Ali!

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.comwith their name and email address so that we can reach out to them!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Collegiate Twirler Spotlight - Stephen F. Austin Feature Twirler

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

What a great weekend of College Football. Many great moments, including some awesome field twirling. While we did not have a Friday Night Lights Feature this week (Don't worry! We will be back this Friday with a twirler that performs for two different schools!), we get to turn our focus to our College twirlers.

Today for our first Collegiate Twirler Spotlight of the season, we are in Nacogdoches, Texas, meeting the Stephen F Austin State University Feature Twirler, Rachel Dugan!

Stephen F Austin State University, or SFA, is the home of the Lumberjacks, and a long history of great twirling. The school has a fantastic majorette line called the Twirl-O-Jacks, but each year they also audition for a Feature Twirler. This position twirls separate of the Twirl-O-Jacks, but they work as a cohesive visual unit. Rachel Dugan is returning to SFA this season for her third year as the Feature.

Being a part of the Lumberjack band program has been an amazing experience. Rachel tells us her very favorite moment in her twirling career was "my first tie twirling on the SFA footbal field at halftime with the Lumberjack Marching Band". We can imagine what a fantastic moment that was.

She loves being a part of all the great traditions at the school. The best school tradition, in her opinion, is when after a Lumberjack win, the school shines purple beacons on the highest building on campus. This allows everyone on campus to celebrate the win together. The band also has a ton of great traditions. Her favorite is when during one of their cadences, the whole band yells "SFA in the house" from the field.

Now that we have learned a little about SFA and their marching band, let's learn a little more about Rachel...

Rachel Dugan, Competition Level: Collegiate/Advanced

Rachel is a Junior at SFA majoring in Psychology with a Criminal Justice minor. She is from Crandall, Texas, and has been twirling for 10 years with Coach Janice Jackson-Seamands. In competition, she is the most proud of winning the National Intermediate Senior Two Baton title at AYOP. Her favorite competition trick is 'Fujimis' and her favorite field trick is a leg pop illusion.

Fun Facts!
Favorite Color - Purple
Favorite Movie - Jaws
Favorite Food - Greek food
Favorite Quote - “You can only do your best!”
Twirler she is most inspired by - Adaline Bebo

When she is not twirling she loves to... "Read!"

Something people might not know about her is... "I love to cook!"

Most memorable advice from her coach... "What is your degree of perfection?"

Funniest Twirl Moment... "I was on the 50 yard line at a band practice and I started a double illusion, and my feet slipped out from under me. I ended up on my behind in front of the entire band, but I held onto that baton!"

After Rachel graduates from SFA she hopes to continue on to Graduate school and then have a private practice in Psychology. She feels that baton twirling has taught her many things, but the most valuable thing she has learned is dedication. This she hopes to take with her into the future as she moves in to her career. To help her get closer to her goals, she is also involved in Psi Chi, the International Psychology Honor Society, and is a member of SWAT (the Student Wellness Action Team).

We asked Rachel what she considered to be the best advice for future Feature twirlers and she said to remember that "Practice makes progress, not perfection. You can always get better!" So very true, especially in a sport like baton twirling.

A big thank you to Rachel for helping us kick off the Collegiate Twirling Spotlights for the season. We wish her the best of luck and we know she will rock it on the field again this year. Axe 'Em Jacks!

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 and we would love to hear more about it.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Friday Night Lights Feature - Shiner High School Feature Twirler

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

Who else can hear the cheers of the football stadium already? Those Friday Night Lights are getting ready to get fired up, and our Texas Twirlers will once again be on the field entertaining the crowds for week two.

That also means time again for our Friday Night Lights feature of the week. This time we are in the town known for its hometown beer and hometown atmosphere. Today's Friday Night Lights Feature interview is with the Shiner High School Feature Twirler, Kathleen Knesek!

Kathleen is the Feature Twirler, but is joined on the field by a twirling line that includes three girls – Lilli, who is the line Captain (Sophomore), Kaitlin (Sophomore), and Autumn (Freshmen). Shiner also has a Jr. High line. The audition process for the twirlers in Shiner requires showing the basic fundamentals for spots on both the Jr High and High School lines. They also perform an individual routine consisting of each of the basic fundamentals and perform the school song and fight song routines. To audition for the feature position, they perform a different individual routine showcasing their abilities. It was a really big moment for Kathleen to be named the Feature Twirler for this year, an honor for which she is proud to have earned. In fact, she tells us that her first public performance at Meet the Band is a moment she will never forget!

Now lets take a moment to learn more about Kathleen and being a Shiner High School twirler…

Kathleen Knesek, Junior
Competition Level: Beginner

Kathleen has been twirling since she was six years old with Coach Pat Montgomery and the Alamo City Strutters. She is the most proud of winning the Twirltacular Hall of Fame Soloist competition. Her favorite competition trick is a right illusion followed by a left illusion, and her favorite field tricks are leaps or anything with a ribbon baton. After she graduates High School, Kathleen hopes to get a degree in Museum Textile Studies and work in a major museum like the Smithsonian to reconstruct and replicate historical clothing.

Fun Facts!
Favorite Music Genre: Early 2000s country

Favorite Quote: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

Best life skill she has learned from baton twirling… “To always have faith and confidence in what you do.”

When she is not twirling, she loves to… “Participate in 4-H activities.”

Something most people don’t know about her is… “I have been twirling since I was six years old but was not actively competing until I was 12. I also got to be a high school twirler as an eighth grader and I got to compete at UIL State Solo and Ensemble with the four other twirlers.” 

In baton twirling she has been most inspired by…
*College Miss Majorette of America & Baylor Golden Girl, Adaline Bebo
*World Medalist & Arkansas Feature Twirler, Savannah Miller
*World Medalist, UTSA Feature Twirler, & ACS Teammate, Michael Lopez
*Miss Majorette of TX, TX Tech Feature Twirler, & ACS Teammate, Abby Morgan

Most Memorable advice from coach… “Stand up tall and straight, because one day when you are getting married I can say ‘look how pretty she looks standing up straight, I helped her learn to walk with confidence'.”

Favorite moment as a baton twirler… “Either getting to twirl at a Spurs game in 2013 or twirling in Reed Arena and Rudder Theater at State 4-H Roundup, where I was able to share the sport of twirling with others in the room.”

Funniest moment as a baton twirler… “Either when I got my baton stuck on the roof of the school or when I broke two batons in less than 5 minutes.”

Shiner is a town and high school rich in tradition, and the twirlers get to be a big part of it. Kathleen tells us that “our school fight song is actually a polka song called the Shiner Song, which makes us one of only a few High Schools to have a polka song for a fight song”, which makes them one of the few twirling lines that get to twirl to a polka fight song! How fun is that? One of Kathleen’s favorite traditions at Shiner occurs after their school wins a State Championship. “The team rides on a fire truck through town when they get home to celebrate with the community”. 

As a member of the Shiner Marching Band, they have a great time, and some great performances, while still working hard. They also have some great inside jokes. One popular one is “Heaven forbid”, which is what their head band director says at any time he finds appropriate. Also, they like to remind each other to “WWJD", which stands for What Would Jackson do. "Jackson is one of our drum majors and someone we as Band students should look up to”.

When asked what the best part of being in the Shiner band is, Kathleen said it has to be the feeling of family! “The family that marching band gives you, each person pushes themselves to make the whole group better. Marching season gives you a new family that you can trust to help you through anything and everything.”

After working so hard to make it as the Shiner Feature Twirler, we asked Kathleen what advice she would give to other twirlers trying to make their school’s Feature spot. She said to just enjoy the time. “Don’t be afraid to give a performance your best shot! Go out, have fun, and if you make a mistake, just over look it”. Great advice Kathleen!

We want to wish Kathleen, the Shiner Twirlers, and the Shiner community a great season. Go Comanches!

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.comwith their name and email address so that we can reach out to them!

Monday, September 3, 2018

UT Permian Basin Twirl Camp 2018

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

While competition season is on pause for now (check out to see the updated schedule of upcoming Texas contests and camps... The first contest of the season is only 74 days away!!!), we know everyone is super busy with their football seasons. We had a great response to our first Friday Night Lights Feature, and we can't wait to continue to follow all the great Feature Twirlers in Texas over the next couple month.

It is also so exciting to see so many new twirlers hitting the field in Texas this Fall. If you would like to check out an updated list of twirlers in Texas, it can be found at If you or your child/student twirls for their school at any level, and they are not on this list, or if you see any errors with this list, please email so we can get that fixed ASAP!

Now... on to one of the most fun parts of this season.. Twirl Camps and the Twirler for a Day programs! These programs are so much fun for any twirler wanting to one day twirl in college, and gives younger twirlers a chance to twirl at a University football game.

Our first Twirler for a Day program in Texas is coming up FAST, so check your calendar, get this date cleared, and get signed up today! Today's post it about the Third Annual UTPB Twirl Camp!

On Sunday, September 23rd the twirlers from Kinder to 8th Grade can spend a Sunday afternoon learning a routine and different twirl moves. The following Saturday they are invited to attend the UTPB Falcon Football Game and perform at halftime. It is a fun, fun outing for the twirler that may be experienced, as well as the twirler that has never twirled.

This camp serves as a fund raiser for the Falcon Twirlers and goes towards the UTPB Falcon Twirler Endowment. As they continue this effort to establish the endowment, they would like to say any gift amount would be instrumental in helping us reach our goal.

Registrations must be received by September 13th. Click here to open the UTPB Falcon Twirl Camp 2018 Registration Form. If there are any questions, you can email the UTPB Twirling Coach, Marlene Torres, at or text her at 432-352-6505.

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 and we would love to hear more about it.