In the midst of an energetic crowd at a Friday night football game, four girls help fuel the Clemens pride that surges through the stadium. These talented students, covered in sparkle and school spirit, twirl their batons to keep a school tradition of twirling alive. At football games and pep rallies, twirlers perform their routines for the crowd’s entertainment and grow as a family along the way.
The four twirlers include Abigail Slaughter (12), Madison Chadwell (12), Caitlin Thai (11), and Erin Dabbs (10). They either started in color guard or marching band, and found their passion for twirling.
“Twirling has become a huge part of my life”, Thai said. “It impacts who I am to myself and to other people.”
They say the best part is both the audience’s reaction and the feeling of performing. They make an impact on other students through enthusiasm and school spirit at their events, like football games, pep rallies, and school events.
“My favorite thing about performing is seeing the reaction. I love seeing the smile on their faces,” Slaughter said. “When little girls want to be just like you, it’s the best feeling in the world, and you know, it warms my heart.”
They practice every Sunday from 9-10:30 a.m. and meet throughout the week to do run throughs to prepare for the game. Each friday comes with a new routine to choreograph, as well as the polishing of old routines. The beauty of their talent seems natural, but with such high stakes, sacrifice is to be made.
“Balancing between twirling and school can be quite difficult at times, but it all becomes worth it when I twirl on the football field every Friday”, Caitlin Thai said.
Their main goal is to get the crowd excited about the games and entertain them with routines. They perform after touchdowns and occasionally routines at halftime to songs like “Bang Bang” and “Exs & Ohs”.
“It’s a lot of fun, and getting to perform for everyone, it’s a great rush,” Dabbs said.
According to the twirlers, it is no easy skill, and it requires dedication to perfect and clean their routines. Even when making mistakes, they push through and stay positive in order to finish and improve for their next run.
“I think smile, have fun, love what you do,” Slaughter said, “You can’t think about the drop. You just have to pick it up and keep going, and smile.”
Throughout their time practicing and performing, the four girls have grown as friends and acquired a sense of family. Whether they rely on each other for checkpoints throughout their performance or have fun at their different events, they have gotten closer throughout the season.
“There is definitely a family, a sense of family,” Dabbs said. “We all care about each other a lot, and we all are there for eachother all of the time.”
Kate Whyte, Taylor Trapp
Copy Editor, Staff Writer
[ photo taken by Samantha Wray]
Two schools embedded in a rivalry on Farm-to-Market road 3009 that meet every year on the football field; Steele and Clemens. This year, on September 28, the two schools will meet yet again, except this time, there is a little bit more to the story.
SALive, a San Antonio news station, will be doing an expose on the ‘Battle of 3009.’ They will be recording during both pep rallies, the game, and have been interviewing some students and coaches from both teams, per Mr. Saunders.
This expose will be aired soon after the game, and is being done to highlight some of Texas’ biggest and best Friday night lights programs throughout the state. There was also a poll held online where people could vote on who has the better Friday night practices, Clemens or Steele. Both schools were declared victorious, noting that both schools have great programs.
Every year, the parking spaces fill up and people have to park as far as the new Starbucks just to see the two schools play some football. Each school has spirit weeks leading up to the game, and have pep rallies the day of the game as well, creating a sense of school pride for each campus.
Although these schools have had a rivalry ever since Steele was founded in 2005, both student bodies gather and fill up Lehnhoff Stadium to show their pep and their student accomplishments such as band and dance teams performing at halftime. After the game, both teams can be seen gathering and congratulating each other and taking pictures, shaking hands, and even praying on the field. It can be assumed that all these features highlight what makes up the annual event known as the ‘Battle of 3009.’
Shelby O’Neal Plays For Her Future
In order to continue her dreams on a collegiate level, junior Shelby O’Neal committed to play indoor and beach volleyball with the University of Arizona Wildcats on Sept. 17th.
O’Neal gravitated to this university due to its convenience to both home and California, where she will compete with the Lady Wildcats in tournaments.
“Arizona is just so similar to home, and it’s the proximity to California that just makes things more convenient when it comes to volleyball,” O’Neal said. “I can hop on a flight from Tucson to LA and compete in a tournament pretty easily.”
O’Neal also adored the team comradery. The division one coaching staff, as well as the tight knit community of athletes, were a selling point. She also connected with teammates similar to her, as well as her trainers.
“I’ve developed a close relationship with the staff. Coach Dave and Coach Gregg were really relatable and understanding over the phone, and meeting them and Coach Rita in person just really sealed the deal”, O’Neal said. “Plus, I’m really similar to one of their current players, so we connected pretty quickly!”
The 6’2 outside hitter and defensive specialist will assume her position as a wildcat in summer 2020. She’ll begin competing with the beach and indoor team her sophomore year.
“The spirit and the attitude of this university is something I immediately fell in love with”, O’Neal said. “I really can’t wait to be a wildcat!”