Florida State invaded the Carrier Dome Columbus Day weekend planning to hand a huge loss to the Syracuse Orange. In a surprise to fans of both teams, the game was a seat squirmer right to the last five seconds.
It wasn't just the football players, however, who got air time on ESPN2. The Syracuse Band Feature Twirler, Melissa Gaffney, was seen several times twirling her batons around the stadium dazzling the crowd with her three baton juggling. By her side, much of the time was her National Champion Duet Partner, KeriAnn Lynch, who graduated in May from her position as The Orange Girl. During Pre-Game they were joined by former Orange Girl, Lisa Branley Castro, Class of '94, who was there for Homecoming. All three have something in common besides their position as Syracuse Feature Twirlers. All three come from the same team in New Hampshire, The Red Stars. They were all coached by Gina Branley Hutchinson, mother of Lisa and former Penn State Blue Saphire Feature Twirler, Lori Branley Fischer.
For Coach Hutchinson, this season is an exciting one as five of her team members are twirling on college campuses around the country. Jamie Kaseta, also from Woburn, Massachusetts, is twirling at The University of Miami. During the Presidential debates on the University of Miami campus, Jamie was spotted several times twirling on the set of Chris Mathew's "Hardball" on MSNBC.
Closer to New Hampshire, Ashley Tiller, from Groveland, Massachusetts twirls during the Pre Game at Boston College and then dances with the Danceline at halftime. During basketball season, Ashley can be found twirling in Conte Forum for all home games.
The Red Star College line even extends west to The University of Nevada at Las Vegas, UNLV. Jennifer Decosta and Ashley Maszczak are dazzling the Rebels fans at halftime.
Hutchinson has also coached a fourth Syracuse Orange Girl, Rebecca Fowler, and two previous Captains of the Penn State "Touch of Blue" twirling line, Abby Cook Diehl and Andrea Fletcher, who graduated this year.
As members of The Red Stars, these college twirlers performed on Carnival Cruise Lines and in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin Ireland, the Macy's Parade, George Bush's Inaugural Parade, and last year's Axa Liberty Bowl and Nokia Sugar Bowl. These ladies were also part of the Red Star's many NBTA National Champion Halftime Teams and named The Disney Twirl Mania Team of the Year in 2003. Being part of The Red Star program prepares twirlers to be able to perform in front of crowds no matter how large or how small. The Red Star team is on the road performing shows and parades six months a year in addition to an aggressive competition schedule. Last summer, fourteen team members performed shows in Germany including shows in Heidleberg and Berlin as well as a performance for American troops based at Grafenwohr Army Base.
Twirling is not the only thing emphasized when you are a member of the Red Stars. Hutchinson, also a public school teacher, requires a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. The combination of academics and talent cultivated over an average of twelve years, added to the hundreds of performances Red Star’s are ready for college opportunities.
Hutchinson says, “being part of a team is a real bonus because a twirler needs to relate well to the college bands. A twirler is one part of an ensemble in a college halftime. She needs to know how to blend well with the show, as well as the other performers including dance lines and color guard.”
Press Release Provide by: Gina Hutchinson, Coach N.H. Red Star Twirlers, NBTA
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