As some schools see decline in numbers, Frenship expects more twirlers in future

Frenship twirlers, from left, Madison Stanaland, Billie Swearengen, Abby Drake and Amber Warren, pose in their uniforms. (Photo by Luke Backus)

Halftime is the Frenship band members’ time to shine at each football game.

But while the football team jogs to the locker room and the marching band assumes its position on the field, four girls stand tall at the front of the formation.

It is the job of the four Frenship twirlers to provide a visually pleasing routine filled with fish-tails, roll-outs and other twirling moves.

Twirling has long been a choreographed component of the high school band, and while Lubbock ISD schools show dwindling numbers in twirling participants, Frenship schools have growing numbers.

“We are not losing students at all,” said Abby Drake, Frenship varsity twirler. “I feel it (twirling) is actually getting stronger. The Terra Vista Middle School has six twirlers and Frenship Middle School has three, so it is actually coming up and getting a lot stronger.”

The Frenship twirling line has several new additions to its system in efforts to expand the participation.

David Speer was named the twirling sponsor this year.

His job is to help organize the girls and make sure they are receiving everything they need in order to perform at a high level.

“It is hard to maintain a high standard like ours without any official to oversee the organization,” said Speer. “It is my job to get make sure everything is going smooth as far as scheduling, the Web site or competition. I do everything a parent would be doing if I were not around. It makes it easier for everyone because now the parents aren’t the ones having to coordinate between all the girls.”

Frenship twirlers Madison Stanaland, left, and Amber Warren practice their performance at Frenship’s band field. (Photo by Luke Backus)

Speer has a sister-in-law who was on the Texas Tech University twirling line for four years. He received the job because he has been around twirlers.

Prior to Speer being named sponsor, the twirling team did not have any official guidance.

It was the girls’ and their parents’ job to organize themselves and hire professional help.

“Twirlers have been an adjunct group from the band,” said Speer. “They are band members, but were not monitored by the band. They used to take it upon themselves to hire a coach and learn routines. I do not have the talent or knowledge to teach twirling, but I can organize them, and we still hire professionals to teach the routines.”

Speer noticed the need to expand twirling in the Frenship Community. The Frenship twirlers are now becoming more involved with making the community aware of twirling.

The twirlers attend showcases at Frenship Middle School and Terra Vista Middle School to recruit students who are interested.

“After we perform, they (students) are excited and want to do what we do,” said Amber Warren, Frenship varsity twirler. “Younger students see us and get excited to join. They have the opportunity to ask us questions about twirling too.”

The varsity twirlers also prepare the middle school twirlers to participate in band night.

Band night is when the middle school band members are given the opportunity to play alongside the high school band at a varsity football game.

“We teach them all of our stands and we perform different routines,” said Warren.

Speer said he relates recruiting middle school students to a baseball farm league system.

“Texas Tech is the equivalent to a major-league baseball team,” said Speer. “The high school level is like a minor-league team. In order to have good minor-league teams, you have to teach at a level below that. That is why we are starting to teach middle school students how to twirl. We will eventually try and spark an interest with girls at a younger age than that.”

Speer said Texas Tech University’s twirlers will help the Frenship line during the year.

“We give them (Tech) a feeder school for twirlers,” said Speer. “We usually have two or three of our graduates on the Tech line.”

The varsity twirlers follow Texas Tech’s lead and support the idea of teaching younger students how to twirl.

Drake said there will be more talent at the varsity level in a few years.

“We are getting a lot more talented girls because by the time they get into high school, they will have a lot more time to learn and they will be more competitive,” said Drake.

If every middle-school student involved with twirling were to continue to the varsity level, the high school would double its twirling line size.

Speer said he welcomes the greater numbers, but will put quality before quantity. Ideally, he would like seven to eight twirlers on the line.

“The more people you add, the higher the chances are that you will drop the baton during the stunt,” said Speer. “It doesn’t look as good if you have a lot of girls but not everyone can catch a toss. On the other hand, it looks very appealing to have a big line and have everyone be able to perform at a high level.”

For now, Frenship will continue promoting twirling to its younger students.

“I have an idea to have camps over the summer,” said Warren. “Other sports do it all the time. We could teach little girls to twirl and get them motivated to do competitions.”

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