Friday, September 11, 2020

Friday Night Lights Feature - Nixon-Smiley High School

 Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

We weren’t sure we would be here, but it is true! We are back and it is Football Season! This year may look a little different, but twirlers all over Texas are making it work, and we are so excited to be able to Feature many of them over the next couple of months. As those Friday Night Lights turn back on in stadiums all over Texas, we hope to see many face masks and safety precautions being taken so that we can continue to enjoy the sights and sounds of football teams, marching bands, and our favorite, lots of talented baton twirlers! 

Each season this blog likes to get to know many of our awesome TX twirlers a little better by learning about their experiences. We will be meeting many HS twirler on Fridays through the season with the Friday Night Lights Features, and discovering more about our TX Collegians with the Collegiate Twirler Spotlights during the week. We will also be having many of our HS and Collegiate twirlers take over our Social Media Story for their Game Days, and may even have some special Live moments! Make sure to follow us on Instagram @twirlingiscatchingtx or at so you don't miss a thing!

This season’s first Friday Night Lights Feature is the Nixon-Smiley High School Feature Twirler! 

Nixon-Smiley High School, located in Nixon, TX, is the home of the Mustangs, and Feature Twirler, Emilie Janicek! We really enjoyed getting to see Emilie’s Insta-story Takeover this evening for the Nixon-Smiley vs Stockdale rivalry game. What a great Game Day, and so fun to see all the hometown twirlers together!

We asked Emilie what the new school year has been like dealing with the complications of COVID, and how this is affecting her Friday Night experiences. “I’m actually going to school in person right now, but we did have the option of being an online or paper asynchronous learner. Our football season hasn’t been affected yet (we are a 3A school so we started on schedule), but we only have 9 games this year. We did have summer band practice in July, and other than masks and social distancing, everything was business as usual. At football games, we do have to wear a mask unless we’re socially distanced, and for the first time in our school’s history, all athletic ticket sales are online to keep track of the number of fans that are allowed to attend the games.”

Emilie loves being a twirler for Nixon-Smiley. We asked her how the audition process worked for her to be able to hold that position. “To audition for NSHS twirler, candidates must memorize a group and solo routine, and demonstrate knowledge of fundamentals. The day of tryouts, everyone performs in front of a panel of judges. If someone meets or exceeds the minimum score of 70 from each judge, they are awarded a twirling position.” During her freshman year, Emilie twirled with a couple other twirlers, but she has been the only twirler at NSHS last year and this year. 

She also tells us the best part about the position is getting to share baton twirling with her community and encourage those younger than her to become a part of the tradition. She finds that one of the best ways to do that is during Homecoming. “Every year, 5th-8th graders get to attend the high school’s Homecoming Pep Rally. Sadly, that might not happen this year due to COVID-19 venue capacity restrictions.”

Now that we have learned a little more about twirling at NSHS, lets learn more about Emilie! 

Emilie Janicek, Junior
Competition Level: Beginner

Emilie has been twirling since she was in 7th grade. She is a member of the Alamo City Strutters, and coached by Pat Montgomery and Michael Lopez. Her favorite field trick is a toss, one spin, sauté, catch on back. In baton twirling, she has been inspired by many amazing twirlers including Kristie Kriegel Peterman, Kelli Montgomery Park, Michael Lopez, Rebekah Gonzales, Abby Morgan, Adaline Bebo, Caroline Carothers, and Savannah Miller. “They have ALL played a special part in my twirling journey. At different times, and in different ways, each of them has inspired me to work harder to be both a better twirler and a better advocate for our sport.” After High School, Emilie hopes to earn a college twirler position while pursuing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and then work at a veterinary practice in Hawai’i. She also wants to become a twirling coach and have her own studio one day. “I can’t wait to tell a twirler student, ‘Hold on, I have to go help a cow give birth. Want to come watch?’”

Fun Facts!

  • Color - Red
  • Movie - Titanic
  • Music - Any genre!
  • Book - Gone with the Wind
  • Vacation - Hawai’i or Athens, Greece

Favorite Quote... “No good thing goes unpunished.” —Elphaba from Wicked

When she is not twirling, she loves to... “Read books, spend time with family, or play with my cat, Kaiemi.”

Something people might not know about her is... “I’ve read the entire Harry Potter series 4 times!”

Most Memorable Advice from her Coach... “Cry in the car.”

Favorite Competition Title... “My favorite competition title (that I haven’t earned yet), is Miss Majorette of America. I feel that twirlers of every age strive to earn the MMOA title because with it, you get to represent and promote the sport of baton twirling for an entire year.” 

Best Band Tradition/Inside Joke... "Our band director, Steven Lozano, despises the song “Seven Nation Army” because it is so repetitive. Every time it comes on before a football game, we all sing it as loud as we can. The annoyed, yet slightly entertained look on his face in response to our obnoxiousness is priceless!"

Favorite Moment as a HS twirler... "I got to choreograph and perform a twirler feature at a District Play-Off pep rally with three of my Varsity football friends and the head football coach. The other football coaches also participated by holding up the signs."  

Funniest Field Twirling Moment... "My freshman year in high school, during a pep rally routine, my cartwheel ended up looking like a donkey kick."

What is the best non-twirling life skill you all have learned from baton twirling? "That you never know who is watching you. When I am aggravated, I always try to consider whether or not I would want a younger version of myself to see/hear how I’m behaving at that moment."

Advice or Practice Suggestion To Future Twirlers... "Always time your routines! I don’t like my mom or coaches to time me, but being over or under time at a competition feels worse."

As a member of the NSHS Marching Band, Emilie has been able to have some fantastic experiences, but she says end of the season performances will always stick with her. “There’s nothing better than hitting that final pose at the end of a UIL show. Last season, I had the opportunity to finish our show twirling on the stage prop. Although heights aren’t my favorite thing, seeing everyone in their final positions of an advancing performance was something I’ll never forget.”

We wanted to know what part of marching season she will miss the most when it is over, and she told us it is the relationships and experiences built during practices. “The evening marching practices after school are one of my favorite parts of the season. I have bonded and made so many memories with the Color Guard, Drum Major(s) and the rest of the band during marching season. I’ll miss everything... marching in the scorching heat, freezing and twirling in the dark with an outrageous wind chill factor, hearing the metronome ricocheting off the buildings, our directors saying, 'From the top!', and especially our dismissal chant.”

Finally, the past six months have been like nothing we have ever seen. Despite being scary and disappointing, baton twirlers all over Texas have been overcoming the obstacles put before them and focusing on the future. We asked Emilie how she handled her time during quarantine, and what she learned that she will take with her as things slowly return to normal. “After the school track and gyms closed, I learned how to practice on any terrain, at any time, no matter the weather. I might practice in a parking lot one day and on grass the next. I tore up multiple pairs of jazz shoes. I also learned that during a pandemic stay at home order, when you live in a small town and you’re practicing in the parking lot, people watch you from their porches.” Way to be versatile and entertaining!

We want to thank Emilie for being our first FNL Feature this season. Her amazing advice and the excitement she shows for the activity is inspiring. Good luck with the rest of the marching season, and we wish you a great rest of your Junior year. Go Mustangs!  

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!

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