Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Collegiate Twirler Spotlight - Abilene Christian University Feature Twirlers

Hello Texas Twirl Fans!

We cannot believe that 2021 is over in just days! We wanted to wrap up the year with some of our awesome Texas Collegiate Twirlers with back-to-back Collegiate Twirler Spotlights!

This week’s Collegiate Twirler Spotlight is the Abilene Christian University Feature Twirlers!

Abilene Christian University, located in Abilene, Texas, is the home of the Wildcats, and two twirlers that are making ACU history! Feature Twirlers Ashlyn Morris and Mariah Williams are the first two twirlers in over thirty years at ACU. 

Senior Ashlyn really wanted to attend ACU because, “both of my brothers and sister in law went to ACU, so I was already familiar with the University. The campus felt like home, and I loved how close the Abilene community was.” However, there had not been a twirler at ACU in decades, and Ashlyn hoped to continue her twirling career into college. “I had to take the time to convince the band director to allow me to twirl with the band. This required a lot of patience and conversation with the band director. Initially I was told ACU would not allow a twirler, but we had many conversations and I heard out his worries about having a twirler. Once he agreed to consider it, I sent in an audition video and a twirling resume. Then the band director let me know I was going to be able to twirl at ACU!”

Freshman Mariah had a little different story. Knowing that Ashlyn was able to twirl at ACU, she opened her options to look at Abilene as a collegiate option. “They gave me the best opportunities and had a great campus community.” While her process was a little simpler than Ashlyn’s, she was still auditioning during a COVID year, so the audition process was virtual. “I emailed in an audition video to the band coordinator and director.” Getting to join Ashlyn on the field at ACU has been a dream come true for Mariah, and she enjoys being able to build on the legacy her co-feature helped to start. “It is a wonderful opportunity to be able to bring back the sport of twirling at ACU. I love to hear the alumni story of how they used to have twirlers and how they are so excited that they are back. I am able to help lead the way for future Twirlers here at ACU and get to be a part of history. That is something that I will forever treasure.”

Now that we have learned how they became the ACU Features, lets learn more about them!

Ashlyn Morris

Ashlyn is a Senior from San Antonio, Texas, and is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Business. She has been twirling for 14 years and has been coached by Pat Montgomery. Her favorite competition skills are rolls, and her favorite field trick is anything with multiple batons. In baton twirling she has been most inspired by Savannah Miller. After college she plans to get her specialist in School Psychology and become a School Psychologist.  
Mariah Williams
Mariah is a Freshman from Dallas, Texas, and is majoring in Journalism and minoring in Communications. She has been twirling for 3.5 years with the Texas Touch of Class and has been coached by Sheila Payne Rigelsky and Shirley Payne. Her favorite competition trick is a High Toss Illusion, and her favorite field trick is a High Toss Leap. In baton twirling she has been most inspired by her TTOC teammate, K.K. Tunnell. After college she hopes to become a broadcast journalist. 

Fun Facts!
  • Favorite Color – Yellow (Mariah)
  • Favorite Disney Princess – Belle (Mariah)
  • Favorite Superhero – Thor (Mariah)
  • Favorite Music Genre – Country Music (Ashlyn)
  • Favorite Artist – Tori Kelly (Mariah)
  • Favorite Food – Mac & Cheese (Mariah)
  • Favorite TV Show – Gilmore Girls (Ashlyn)

Favorite Quote…
  • Ashlyn – “You miss 100% of the shots you do not take!”
  • Mariah – “Shoot for the moon! Even if you fail, you’ll land among the stars” -Cecelia Ahem

When they are not twirling, they love to…
  • Ashlyn – “Spend time with friends.”
  • Mariah – “Do crafts, especially embroidery.”

Something most people might not know about them…
  • Ashlyn – “I actually restarted the twirling program at ACU after much persistence.”
  • Mariah – “I have my associates degree.” 

Best moment as a baton twirler…
  • Ashlyn – “Being able to twirl with the band on the field this year after not being able to during the 2020 season.”
  • Mariah – “Inspiring little girls to consider twirling as a sport.”

Funniest moment twirling together...
  • Ashlyn – “During band rehearsal one day we were learning drill, and all of the sets Mariah and I had learned were on the opposite sides of the field. Eventually we had sets that brought us back together, and as soon as we learned those sets, we both wanted to try duet tricks. We did not even talk about it, we just both looked at each other and knew what the other was thinking!”

Most memorable advice from their coach…
  • Ashlyn – “My coach pushed me to persevere through any obstacles.”
  • Mariah – “Champions are comfortable being uncomfortable.”

#1 non-twirling life skill they have learned from baton twirling…
  • Ashlyn – “I learned to adapt quickly to different situations.”
  • Mariah – “To never give up and always try your hardest at your goals and dreams.”

Advice to future twirlers…
  • Ashlyn – “I would say to never give up, even when it is easy to. There were many times when I wanted to just give up, whether it be for a hard trick or when I was trying to become a twirler for ACU. If I had given up, I would have had many regrets and many what if questions in my head.”
  • Mariah – “Practice as much as possible, even when you do not get a trick right away. Get back up and try again.” 

Best School Tradition…
  • Ashlyn – “The Candlelight Devotional”
  • Mariah – “Freshman ringing the homecoming bell for 24 hours straight.”

Best Band Tradition...
  • Ashlyn – “Singing the Lord Bless You and Keep You at the end of every football game.”
  • Mariah – “Doing Mario jumps across the field during band camp.”

What advice would they give to a twirler about to go into college auditions...
  • Ashlyn – “Practicing how you will perform or audition is very important. I feel like if you are going to take the time to practice, it needs to be all out because if you are halfway doing something, it is wasting your time. Doing this will also make you less nervous for the audition because you are already used to how you will perform during your audition.”
  • Mariah – “Keep your options open! You never know what opportunities may be presented to you.” 
We want to say congrats to these twirlers on a great season. Good Luck to Ashlyn on her upcoming graduation, and we cannot wait to see where the future of the ACU twiring goes from here with Mariah.
Go Wildcats! 

We hope you enjoyed this edition of the Collegiate Twirler Spotlight. We are always looking for great new stories about Texas twirlers. Do you have an idea or info we could use to help highlight our sport? Contact us at and we would love to hear more about it.

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