For those of you who may not know, the twirling world is small but mighty. Thousands of baton twirlers from around the world compete in local, state, regional, and national competitions year round at the novice, beginner, intermediate, advanced, and elite levels. Many people are more aware of the typical majorette who twirls a baton while marching with high knees in front of the marching band at football games. Well, it’s now 2016, and many bands have revolutionized the idea of the majorette into the “feature twirler.”
Here’s the difference.
A majorette is a member of a larger group. Many people are more aware of the majorette lines at Florida State University, University of Tennessee, or University of Alabama, where occasionally over 10 women twirl in unison in front of the band or during a halftime football game. A feature twirler team is composed of five girls or fewer who twirl in unison sometimes, but mostly take up different corners of the field entertaining people individually. The title of feature twirler has grown so much over the years that the men and women who take these positions now earn large scholarships—sometimes even a full ride—so you can imagine that it is a very prestigious and very competitive spot to earn.
This year, the high school graduating class of 2016 had their chance to earn their spot on the field. Here are just a few of these outstanding ladies:
Erin Noble—North Carolina State University Feature Twirler
This young lady is following her dreams all the way from Maryland this fall. Erin Noble has had many twirling accomplishments after a lifetime of practice. She is a member of the Wheaton twirl team in Maryland and has attended the World Championships for baton twirling. She recalls her favorite twirling accomplishments as her leaderships skills during team practice, her improvement to make harder difficulty in her individual competition, and her drive towards her goals.
In the classroom, Erin is a diligent worker and says that her ability to overcome problems, expand her vocabulary, and help other students in areas of learning where she thrives are her greatest accomplishments as a student. She plans to major in life sciences zoology in the fall. Congratulations, Erin, it looks like your drive for twirling has taken you above and beyond!
Ami Hawley—Oregon State University Feature Twirler
Ami is a native to Oregon and has always been very fond of the idea of Oregon State University. She has pushed herself over the past few years to assure herself a spot as feature twirler when she decided to attend. Hawley went to many “Twirler For a Day” events, where high school twirlers are able to come and join the twirlers for a football game experience, at OSU. As a student she took four honors classes and to international baccalaureate (IB) classes in high school and graduated with a 3.85 GPA despite all of her time spent practicing in the gym for twirling or in the studio for dance.
Ami says her favorite parts of being a twirler have been her ability to connect with the community and the doors it has opened to the many different opportunities she has had throughout her twirling career. No matter if she is a student or a twirler, Ami is always pushing herself to be better, no matter what it takes, and has plans to major in human development and family sciences. Congratulations, Ami, on your new position!
Shaelyn Albrecht—University of Michigan Feature Twirler
This sweet girl is going big as she decides to show off her skills at the Big House. Shaelyn, also known as Miss Majorette of America 2015, is one amazing girl. Not only does she have rock star skills on the competition floor, but also a rock star personality and student life. She is a national merit finalist, an AP scholar with honors, was the October House of Representatives student of the month, and plans to be spending her time in college studying computer science in the College of Engineering.
During this time, Shaelyn also was a part of Team USA for the Grand Prix competition in Abbottsford British Columbia and a twirling Ambassador to Peru this past fall on behalf of the Lions Club International. She plans to attend nationals this summer to pass on her crown to the next Miss Majorette of America. Congratulations, Shaelyn, your efforts have really brought you a long way!
Katie Schleis—Purdue University Silver Twin
This talented twirler has secured herself a spot in the Purdue Marching Band. Katie has spent a lifetime being a diligent worker both in the gym and in the classroom. She graduated with honors from Oshkosh West High School, was a member of the wind ensemble, and even received a second level Academic Achievement. After school she spends time with her team, Julies Touch of Silver, who has earned four gold medals at the World Championship while Katie has been a member.
She also was a USA baton twirling ambassador to Peru in the fall of 2015 and holds the title of Miss Majorette of The North. At Purdue she plans to balance her time between twirling and majoring in speech and hearing sciences. Good luck, Katie, and congratulations on your achievements!
Emmy Rinehart—West Virginia University Feature Twirler
Emmy has not only been accepted as a student to WVU, but she has been accepted to the Honors College. In fact, she was accepted into Honors College for all of the schools she applied for. She recalls doing this after overcoming her fear of asking questions in class to avoid “looking stupid” and eventually becoming part of the top 25 in her class. She shows hard work in the classroom, and also in front of the judges after making it onto the 2011 World Team USA for her rhythmic twirl, earning a silver medal and her top six placement at nationals for Grand National Twirling champion.
She says that by far her favorite twirling accomplishment is holding her new position as a feature twirler for a college marching band. She plans to major in Speech Pathology and Audiology in the fall. Congratulations, Emmy, on overcoming the obstacles to live up a dream!
Bailee Russell—Temple University Diamond Girl
For this young lady, twirling runs in the family. Bailee has been in the gym holding a baton since a very early age and is finally able to live a lifelong dream of becoming a feature twirler. She holds the title of 2016 Miss Twirlmania, is an undefeated New York state champion, and placed top 20 at the 2015 national competition for the grand national twirling championship.
During the weekdays, Bailee takes the hard work she uses in the gym and uses it in the classroom. She is a member of the National Honor Society, captain of the school dance line, and has managed to make honor roll in all 16 semesters she has had in high school. Bailee was excited to finally announce that she will be attending Temple University with plans to major in Actuarial Science and have the opportunity to be the feature twirler. Congratulations, Bailee, on all of your success!
Kaitlyn Turnbull—University of Colorado Feature Twirler
This twirler is making history. After over 15 years of no twirling, The “Golden Buffalo” Marching Band has decided to bring back the twirlers and Kaitlyn was the lucky pick. Kaitlyn qualified twice for the international competition for USTA and competed in multiple events which she placed very well in. But after visiting the University of Colorado, she fell and love and completed one of her greatest twirling accomplishments: being the feature twirler at a four year university.
Kaitlyn is excited to start journey in college as a Psychology major after graduating from high school while maintaining above a 3.0 GPA and passing four AP classes. She looks forward to being able to twirl for the “Buffs” after over a decade of no majorettes. Congratulations on this outstanding position!
Carolyn Gregory—Grand Valley State University Feature Twirler
Carolyn is not only a great twirler, but also a great person. Her kind personality shines through her twirling and her hard work behind a desk. Carolyn has earned the Wilfred Berry Memorial scholarship for her hard work after being in the National Honors Society and graduating with honors. She takes her work very seriously, along with her practice. S
he was selected as a 2015 U.S. Twirling Ambassador to Peru and is the newly crowned Miss Majorette of Michigan. This fall she plans to major in Elementary Education while she pursues her greatest achievement of becoming the GVSU feature twirler. Congratulations, Carolyn!
Nicole Dowdell—University of Mississippi Feature Twirler
This outstanding twirler will be traveling South this fall to join the Pride of the South Marching band at Ole Miss. Nicole currently holds the title of age 16 National World Open Solo champion and recalls her favorite achievement, as a twirler, as being invited to Peru to be a U.S. Twirling Ambassador in the fall of 2015. She brings her all when she hits the books as well after becoming a Kensington Lakes Athletic Association (KLAA) Scholar Athlete, graduating with all four years of honor roll, and being a South Lyon East High School Mentor. Nicole will be majoring in criminal justice as she sparkles on the field this fall. Congratulations on your position, Nicole!
Simone Esters—University of Missouri Feature Twirler
This girl has got it, whether she is on the gym floor, in the classroom, or on the tennis court. Simone is a well-known twirler in the twirling world after becoming the Preteen and eventually Junior Miss Majorette of America, Junior Grand National Solo Champion, and becoming a gold medalist at Worlds for solo, strut, two baton, duet, and teams. She is athletic in more than just baton, however, after she was given the Scholar Athlete award for playing tennis while maintaining an A average.
She was also part of the National Honors Society and named a Walter Williams scholar for Mizzou, meaning that she is one of the top-level freshman journalist students, which is only fitting for her major in Journalism. Congratulations, Simone, on all of you accomplishments, both in and out of school!
Steffany Lien—University of Louisville Feature Twirler
Steffany, or as many of you may know her, the 2015 Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen, is one talented young lady. After being involved in the twirling world and pageant world, she has still made time to make sure her academics were in check. Steffany graduated from high school with a 4.25 GPA and was a member of the National Honor Society.
She also received a scholarship to the Enactus leadership program for the University of Nebraska and plans to major in Psychology. Steffany has had many titles other than her pageant title like: Preteen and Junior Miss Majorette of America, six time World Champion after competing in Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy, and now holds the title of the Feature twirler for the Cards! Congratulations, Steffany, on a lifetime of accomplishments!
From one feature twirler to another, I would like to congratulate each and every one of the new feature twirlers who will be following a dream this year. Whether you will be a feature twirler or on a majorette line, you have made it! Do not take these years for granted and always remember to keep pushing yourself as a student and as a twirler. College years are the best years, so take them and run. Twirlers may roam, but we will always be connected through what we love. Congrats class of 2016!