We are back for week seven of High School Football! 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 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. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @twirlingiscatchingtx or at facebook.com/twirlingiscatchingtx so you don't miss a thing!
This weekend’s Friday Night Lights Feature is the Claudia T. Johnson HS School Feature Twirlers!
Currently for Fall 2020, CTJ has two awesome Feature Twirlers – Bethany Williams and Dylan Butler!
We wanted to know how the process went to be named a CTJ Twirler, and for Junior, Bethany, it was the typical experience. “I prepared and performed a solo routine to music with one, two and three batons.” However, for incoming freshman, Dylan, it was a little unusual. “I auditioned for the first time this year, and because of COVID-19, I didn’t have a normal audition experience. I submitted a video of my routine but the only info I had was the video deadline. I asked Bethany a few questions but for the most part, I had to figure out what to include in the video. I created a routine that I thought had the best diversity of tricks, something that would have a little bit of everything the band director would have wanted. On June 1st, I emailed my video to the Band Director, Mr. Lipman, but I didn’t hear back until 20 days later when he told me that I would make a wonderful addition to the twirling team!”
As Dylan mentioned, COVID-19 has drastically changed many things, and it is no different at CTJ this Fall. Bethany told us about some of the changes. “Football season started much later this year, and our first official game wasn’t until October 1st. School also started with everyone virtually the first three weeks. Then more students were gradually phased in. Some students, including myself, are still attending virtually and have the option to go virtual for the rest of the year if they desire. As for the band, a really big change is that only one fourth of our band can sit in the stands during games, but the rest meet at the stadium to perform the half-time show, and then leave. Luckily, the twirlers get to stay and perform at each game.”
While change can be hard, these two twirlers are making it work. Dylan mentioned some of the ways they have kept things going. “The band started meeting in-person when school began, but we had a 2-week virtual band camp at the end of July, and every week, we had section meetings over zoom. For the twirlers at the games, since we’re on the track, we don’t have to worry about staying socially distanced in the stands, like the band does, and we already stay far away from everyone just so we don’t hit them with batons.“
Handling COVID-19 have been a big adjustment for twirlers everywhere, but these two twirlers have been pushing through and keeping their eye on the long-term goals. Bethany told us, “during quarantine. I continued to practice at home and had Zoom lessons with my coach. Not having access to a gym was a big challenge as it was so hard to practice my spins and other tricks outside on my street, but I really learned to appreciate the little things and don’t take anything for granted!”
Dylan also found ways to get in practice, despite having similar challenges. “Every day during quarantine, I would go to my back porch and practice. Some days I would facetime my coaches for a lesson, but most days I would just work on my routines or tricks, or try to add difficulty to my tricks so I could learn new things. The biggest issue was not having space on my porch or not having the right space to spin on because, in tennis shoes, wood is not the smoothest. The sun was definitely another problem.” While overcoming these obstacles, Dylan also learned some valuable lessons to bring with her to High School. “The biggest thing I learned from quarantine was to not be afraid to try new things and/or ask for help. I’ve also become a lot more comfortable with the whole ‘go with the flow’ vibe and learning to adhere to my surroundings and instructions in an instant has made it easier for me to adjust to whatever I need to, quicker and that definitely helps deal with high school, and even more so this year.”
Now that we have learned more about how CTJ is handling COVID, let’s learn more about the twirlers!
Junior Feature Twirler
Bethany is an Intermediate level competitor that has been twirling for 10 years. She is a member of the Twirling Sweet Sensations and is coached by Michele Sweet Pangrac and Mary Ann (Srulowitz) Pozzi. The competition title she is the proudest of is the 2019 13-year-old National Beginner Three Baton Winner. Her favorite field trick is a two-baton toss/kick combination. In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by Caroline Carothers. After High School she hopes to twirl in college and major in Political Science before attending Law School.
Freshman Feature Twirler
Dylan is a Beginner level competitor that has been twirling for 6 years. She is a member of the Twirling Sweet Sensations and is coached by Michele Sweet Pangrac and Mary Ann (Srulowitz) Pozzi. The competition title she is the proudest of is when she won the Basic Skills Pageant three years in a row at a local contest. Her favorite field trick is a thumb toss fan kick, then a little reverse open hand toss, or two-baton finger twirls. In baton twirling, she has been most inspired by Caroline Carothers. After High School she hopes to attend a University like UT or Harvard and earn a degree is astrophysics.
Favorite Color – Yellow (Bethany), “Anything pastel” (Dylan)
Favorite Movie – “Frozen” (Bethany), “Elf” (Dylan)
Favorite Music – Alternative (Bethany), “Faouzia, Cimorelli, Taylor Swift, soft pop or pop/country” (Dylan)
Bethany – “Life is better with a dog.”
Dylan – “You can’t have a million-dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic.”
When they are not twirling, they love to…
Bethany – “Hang out with my friends, play with my dog, Gracie May, and play board games.”
Dylan – “Play with my pets, hand out with my friends, and do DIY projects.”
Something people may not know about them is…
Bethany – “I collect rocks and gems.”
Dylan – “I have been fostering pets since I was little. I’ve adopted out over 100 pets, mostly cats.”
Most memorable advice from their coach…
Bethany – “Point your toes when you march. You don’t want to sound like an elephant.”
Dylan – “Practice like you’re in the biggest performance of your life and always assume you’re being watched on all sides (like there’s a 360 camera around you at all times).”
Favorite moment as a baton twirler…
Bethany – “Performing on the Disney Showcase stage at Disneyland’s California Adventure in 2019.”
Dylan – “When I finally moved up to beginner solo and I was beginner in everything.”
Funniest moment as a baton twirler…
Bethany – “In 2013, after the modeling portion of my Regionals pageant competition, we realized I had left a hair roller in my hair! Luckily it must’ve been hidden well, and I still won the Basic Skills pageant!”
Dylan – “The day before the Halloween football game, I still didn’t have a way to go back to marching with my french horn after twirling in the halftime show, and when I asked my band director about it, his exact words were “Just wing it.”
Even better than just being a part of the CTJ community is being a part of the CTJ Jaguar Band.
The band has their own traditions within the school that they will never forget. Dylan told us that many members of the band have nicknames, and “those are definitely fun!”. Bethany shared with us a big band inside joke involving a ceramic cat… “At every band competition a blue ceramic cat, named Matt, is brought onto the field with us during retreat for good luck. He is our band mascot.”
Through their years as competitive baton twirlers, these two have learned a lot about life and how to be successful. We asked them what life skill they have developed the most through their experiences. Bethany told is baton has really taught her to have confidence in herself, and Dylan has improved her time management skills.
Finally, we wanted to know what advice they would share with twirlers hoping to one day twirl at their High Schools. Dylan said she would tell them, “Don’t be afraid to get tips or new tricks from various coaches or experienced twirlers. A coach might explain things a different way than a college twirler would, and vice versa, and either explanation could help you!” Bethany told us her best advice is also her motto when approaching preparation for performances and competitions. “Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong.”
We hope you have enjoyed this edition of our FNL Feature. Have a favorite HS or Collegiate Twirler that you would like to see interviewed? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with their name and email address so that we can reach out to them!