Game Day From The Eyes Of A WVU Feature Twirler

Game Day From The Eyes Of A WVU Feature Twirler

What day is it? GAME DAY!
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I wake up to the sound of my alarm and groggily roll over to look at the clock. It reads 5:30 a.m. Yes, you read that right.

I get up, turn my lights on to give myself a better chance of not crawling back under the covers for "just five more minutes" and shuffle to the kitchen to make coffee and breakfast.

I crawl back in bed to eat my breakfast and get some caffeine in me while I come to terms with the fact that I have to be flipping upside down in a little more than an hour. Despite being exhausted, I am still extremely excited because IT'S GAME DAY!

I throw my hair into a bun, put on my WVU gear, and head outside to meet my ride at 6:40 a.m. We collect all the other twirlers, listen to our hype music, swing by Starbucks, and make it to the field just in time for our 7:30 a.m. rehearsal. We make our way with all of our equipment from the parking garage to the stadium. Although we're all in great shape, we're pathetically out of breath by the time we get to the field.

We set down our stuff, get out our sticks, and start stretching out. Practice shoes go on, we survey the weather, and start to warm up our tricks.

Our advisors guide us through our routines, having us practice partner exchanges, big tricks, and critical parts of both pregame and halftime.

We join the band and run pregame and halftime a few times before ending our early morning rehearsal. Even though it's only 9 a.m., it feels like an entire day has gone by.

We make our way to the football team's indoor practice facility (IPF) to have breakfast, Chick-fil-a, of course.

The whole band is sectioned into groups of friends sitting in blobs of discarded garment bags, clothing, and instruments on the astro-turf floor. The air smells of sweat, and everyone is ready for a well-deserved break (and maybe a nap).

I carefully put on my makeup and do my hair. We decide on which hair piece and earrings we want to wear, and then we help each other bobby pin which ever hair piece we chose onto our head. We change into our costumes, find a kind soul to strap us in because the hooks are so hard to reach ourselves, and apply our blinged-up face tatts to our cheek.

Then, we take our baton bags into the stadium for the game and begin the never-ending trek up Law School Hill where we see our families and have sectional time. After we get to the top, we visit with people until it's time to sing the Alma Mater and line up to march back down. Next comes my favorite part...

Drumline cadences us down the hill, and when their cadence is over, we break into a chant of verses from Bob Dylan's "Must Be Santa." Why? Because tradition.

As the last verse finishes, we round the corner to head towards the stadium for pregame. We wait until we're in the tunnel before frantically breaking off from the band to prepare for our pregame show, which is the hardest thing we do in my opinion.

We wait for drumline to finish their pow-wow of chants and take the field before moving into the tunnel once again.

The band screams and then my heart rate sky rockets as I hear the famous "1-2-Ready-Go!" that signals the start of the 220 run on. I feel the wind on my face and take in the crowd as I run to my spot. Our names are announced, and I wave when it's my turn.

We then hit our opening pose and get ready for downfield to Fight Mountaineers. Shortly after, we do the long tosses from 35 yard line to 35 yard line, not once, but twice! There are few moments that feel as good as catching them both and hearing the crowd go crazy.

I twirl my heart out and push harder as I get more and more tired throughout the show, taking it all in when we get to rest during the Alma Mater and National Anthem before jumping right back into it with Country Roads.

I finish Pregame off with my fellow twirlers in our big tag-endings. We kill it, naturally, and move to our positions to wait for our boys to run onto the field. On days when it's incredibly hot, you feel like your feet might blister from standing still on the hot turf, and on days when it's freezing you lose all the body heat you just built up, but the reward of being a part of the "Bring On The Team" moment makes it all worth it. 10... 9... 8... 7... 6... bum..bum..Bum, Bum, BUM, and cue the fight song!

We move off the field and over to the band stands where we catch our breath and watch the game. At about seven minutes until halftime, we start warming up.

We move to the sidelines with three minutes left in the second quarter, and prepare to perform our halftime show.

We twirl, most times impromptu, to the great music the band is playing, and I cannot describe the feeling of being out on the field in front of so many people. It's simply exhilarating.

After halftime, we grab a snack and head up to the concourse to see our families, talk to fans, and take pictures. We then come back down on the field to watch the rest of the game and cheer on our Mountaineers!

When we win (obviously) we stand in a line and sing Country Roads and then grab our batons and dance to the 10 yard line to perform while the band plays "Celebration".

We finish the evening by standing with our band family and singing the Alma Mater once again. I try to cherish every moment despite being absolutely exhausted.

As we march out of the stadium and reunite with our family and friends, I think about how another game out of my college twirling career has passed, and I try to remember one unique thing about it to carry with me throughout my years as I continue on this journey as well as after it has come to an end.

Performing with The Pride gives me a feeling unlike anything I have ever done. Even though the homesickness is real, I always feel like I'm right where I belong when I take the field at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Cover Image Credit: Emily Rinehart

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When You Give A Girl A Dad

You give her everything
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They say that any male can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad. That dads are just the people that created the child, so to speak, but rather, dads raise their children to be the best they can be. Further, when you give a little girl a dad, you give her much more than a father; you give her the world in one man.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a rock.

Life is tough, and life is constantly changing directions and route. In a world that's never not moving, a girl needs something stable. She needs something that won't let her be alone; someone that's going to be there when life is going great, and someone who is going to be there for her when life is everything but ideal. Dads don't give up on this daughters, they never will.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a role model.

If we never had someone to look up to, we would never have someone to strive to be. When you give a little girl someone to look up to, you give her someone to be. We copy their mannerisms, we copy their habits, and we copy their work ethic. Little girls need someone to show them the world, so that they can create their own.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her the first boy she will ever love.

And I'm not really sure someone will ever be better than him either. He's the first guy to take your heart, and every person you love after him is just a comparison to his endless, unmatchable love. He shows you your worth, and he shows you what your should be treated like: a princess.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her someone to make proud.

After every softball game, soccer tournament, cheerleading competition, etc., you can find every little girl looking up to their dads for their approval. Later in life, they look to their dad with their grades, internships, and little accomplishments. Dads are the reason we try so hard to be the best we can be. Dads raised us to be the very best at whatever we chose to do, and they were there to support you through everything. They are the hardest critics, but they are always your biggest fans.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a credit card.

It's completely true. Dads are the reason we have the things we have, thank the Lord. He's the best to shop with too, since he usually remains outside the store the entire time till he is summoned in to forge the bill. All seriousness, they always give their little girls more than they give themselves, and that's something we love so much about you.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a shoulder to cry on.

When you fell down and cut yourself, your mom looked at you and told you to suck it up. But your dad, on the other hand, got down on the ground with you, and he let you cry. Then later on, when you made a mistake, or broke up with a boy, or just got sad, he was there to dry your tears and tell you everything was going to be okay, especially when you thought the world was crashing down. He will always be there to tell you everything is going to be okay, even when they don't know if everything is going to be okay. That's his job.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a lifelong best friend.

My dad was my first best friend, and he will be my last. He's stood by me when times got tough, he carried me when I just couldn't do it anymore, and he yelled at me when I deserved it; but the one thing he has never done was give up on me. He will always be the first person I tell good news to, and the last person I ever want to disappoint. He's everything I could ever want in a best friend and more.


Dads are something out of a fairytale. They are your prince charming, your knight in shinny amour, and your fairy godfather. Dads are the reasons we are the people we are today; something that a million "thank you"' will never be enough for.

Cover Image Credit: tristen duhon

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Tiger Woods' 2019 Masters Victory Means More Than Winning a Tournament

At the 2019 Masters, Tiger Woods defined what a comeback story truly means.

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For the last week now I have tried to process the events that transpired in the world of golf. As many of you may know by now, I am a fanatic for Tiger Woods. I have watched as one of the greatest athletes to ever grace this earth fell from his pinnacle. I have watched as he and his family were brutally subject to a national embarrassment. I have watched as one of the greatest athletic bodies in all of golf was twisted and contorted through 4 back surgeries and physical rehabilitation. I have watched as critics and fans alike believed that his professional career was over. That he would no longer be a competitive golfer and that he should just retire instead of trying to recreate something that had gone awry.

Today I can say with the utmost of certainty that this is no longer the case. Tiger Woods won the 2019 Masters last week in dramatic fashion. Here are the stats plain and simple. Woods had never won a major tournament after trailing entering the last day of competition. Woods had also not won a major in more than 11 years and his most recent Master's victory was in 2005. Last week, Woods entered Sunday just two strokes behind the leader Francesco Molinari. At the end of the day, Woods won the event.

I have stood by this man's side as a loyal fan for the last 11 years and seen all that he has endured. For me, his victory was unequivocally the greatest moment in all of the sports. Period. There really aren't enough words for me to sum up the magnitude of this event and in the fashion that it took place. I still am speechless a week later. As I sat watching the final round unfold from a live stream on my phone (as I was in a car driving back from Florida), I was in actual tears. I knew that Tiger Woods would be a winner again. What I didn't know is that he was destined to return back to his place in history as the greatest golfer to ever live. The race for Jack Nicklaus 18 major championship victories mark is now back in contention - something that has not been highly considered for the last decade. What Tiger Woods did on Sunday at the Masters is greater than the sport of golf. It goes beyond athletics and winning. It demonstrates the story of grit, relentless toughness in the face of adversity and most importantly, it epitomizes never giving up.

For this current generation of young golfers who grew up idolizing Woods, they saw and heard first hand the return of the roars that followed Tiger every time he stepped onto a golf course. For runner up's Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele, they were not mad that they had lost, rather they were happy that Woods had won. They both said in their post-round interviews that the atmosphere and energy that was felt at this tourney was unrivaled to any other sporting event they had played in. It was because of one man, wearing his notorious "Sunday red" as he remained unflappable in the face of his opposition. On the 12th hole, a short par-3 that faces the infamous Rae's Creek, Woods demonstrated his poise and maturity. 5 of the top 6 players in the field hit the ball well short of the hole and landed in the water. The only player not to do so was Tiger who chose to aim well left of the hole and play for par. It was here, with 6 holes left to play that Woods reclaimed the lead. Fans and players were all aware of what was to transpire, they could feel that Tiger was ready to pound.

For me, Tiger Woods' victory will be a moment in my life that I will never forget. More importantly, he unified an entire nation to sit down glued to their televisions and watch the final round play out. I had friends reaching out to me to let me know that they were tuned in to witness history unfold, people who aren't golf fans in the slightest. This demonstrates in the most minimal way possible the magnitude and importance of this win. It was bigger than golf. It was something that young fans and old ones alike will cherish indefinitely. For that, I thank you Tiger Woods. You made all of the moments where we as sports fans wanted to let you go and move on to this new era of talented golfers worth sticking by your side. You brought a country with such polarization and difference together to watch a round of golf. And lastly, you made a fan of yours believe in something bigger than sports, but rather, believe in comebacks and hope. Tiger Woods you will always be my hero.

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