Campus News

Historic twirl: Majorette line wins top honors at national, world championships

Last month, the UGA majorette line became the first in history to sweep top honors at the USA and World Twirling Championships.

The seven-member team placed first in the college halftime show twirl, the collegiate national halftime and the collegiate national dance twirl events. The line also won the Wow Award for the most entertaining performance from a college line.

Feature twirler Karissa Wimberly, a second-year graduate student from Tallahassee, Fla., was named senior grand national twirling champion, senior world/open national solo champion and grand national collegiate solo champion.

Even more impressive, the accolades came under the direction of coach Ashley Clark, a former UGA majorette and twirling judge, who was in her first year of coaching. The secret to the team’s success, she said, was a regular practice schedule that took into account their lifestyles.

“What I did was not overpower them. College kids in the summertime are ready to have a break, so we practiced every other weekend, from Friday to Sunday,” Clarke said. “We started back in January doing 6 a.m. practices Tuesdays and Thursdays while they were in school. We went to the state championships in April to get practice on the floor. It’s different twirling on the football field and on the competition setting.”

During competition, the majorette line performs three-minute routines that combine baton twirling, synchronized dance moves and, for some performances, props. In their three routines as a full line, UGA’s majorettes performed with themes of Spanish flair and the Big Dawg Saloon.

The competition, which was held at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., has been held annually since 1982. UGA’s sweep of first-place awards marked the first time one college had received all top awards since the event began.

“The judges don’t like to give it all to one school, but the girls did the job,” Clark said. “They did their performances and they entertained the crowd, so they took it.”

All members of the majorette line also perform with the UGA Redcoat Band. Members of the team are Colleen Murphy, a junior from Maryland; Leslie Koch, a junior from Tennessee; Taylor Brown, a junior from Bowdon; Angel Flournoy, a sophomore from Jesup; KayLeigh Gaines, a sophomore from Lavonia; Kelly Daniel, a sophomore from Elberton; and Mary Katelyn Williams, a sophomore from Jesup.