Blue Band twirlers win another national championship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- When Penn Staters arrive at Beaver Stadium for the football home opener on Sept. 1, they'll have an opportunity to see a national championship squad perform - before either football team takes the field. The national champions are the Penn State Blue Band's Touch of Blue majorettes, and their feature twirler, Matt Freeman. The "Jettes," as they call themselves, competed this summer at the National Baton Twirling Association competition held at Notre Dame, and received the first-place award for Collegiate Majorette Line Dance Twirl Teams. Freeman also won the Collegiate Solo Twirler title, as well as many other first-place awards. In addition, the squad took home an award for the most entertaining performance.

“Winning the championship means a lot more than just the title,” said Freeman. “It was an amazing feeling to show the baton twirling community what Penn State is all about. I had several opportunities to be interviewed in front of a large live audience and every word that came out of my mouth came with passion and pride as I stood tall and proud to be representing Penn State.”

In addition to their first-place trophy, the majorettes placed second in the Collegiate
Majorette Line Half Time Show Twirl Teams category. In 2011, the squad also placed first in the dance category, and second in the halftime category. They have finished first or second in one or the other category every year dating back to 2004.

"I must say I have been extremely blessed with talented twirlers," said Heather Bean, majorette instructor with the Penn State Blue Band. "Our team has been very fortunate the last 10 years we have been competing. We are successful because we have a band director, O. Richard Bundy, who is very supportive, and because of the dedication each student has to do his or her personal best."

Freeman won several individual awards as well, including 2012 Collegiate Solo Champion, the most prestigious of the individual awards at the competition. His other titles are: 2012 Senior Men's Grand National 2 Baton Champion; 2012 Senior 3-baton Champion; 2012 Senior Men's Rhythmic Twirl Champion; 2012 Senior Men's World Open Solo Champion; and 2012 Collegiate Downfield Champion.

“To bring the collegiate title back home to Penn State is an amazing opportunity. This was a perfect year to come out on top and represent Penn State in a positive light,” said Freeman. He added, “I was overwhelmed and humbled. I always twirl because I enjoy it. When you get to the competitive level, twirling is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. The mental aspect came more naturally to me this year as I was displaying a purpose every time they announced ‘representing Penn State University.’ To think that I was a symbol of a school that to me means so much and I always have looked up to is what meant more than any of the awards.”

Bean said during the summer, the majorettes don't have the opportunity to practice as a team as much as they would like. "I rely on the students to practice on their own once they leave school at the end of the spring semester. I schedule two practice weekends, totaling about 24 hours, prior to our leaving for the competition. It always amazes me how they pull together great performances with such little time. It just proves to me how much they appreciate the opportunities they are given. They work hard and give their absolute best," she said.

Freeman said he practiced on his own an average of two hours a day, almost every day, leading up to the two team practices, and then he and his teammates worked long hours together, to accomplish as much as possible in the short time they had to work together.

"From the day the students are selected, I remind them of the long tradition that is the Penn State Blue Band and what it means to represent the University and the Blue Band,” Bean said. “When the team takes the floor in competition, they want to show the judges and spectators why they love the sport of baton twirling and what fun it is to twirl at the college level."

Fans can watch the national champion Touch of Blue twirlers and feature twirler Matt Freeman every home football Saturday, starting Sept. 1 with Tailgreat starting at 9 a.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center, and then inside Beaver Stadium for their pregame, halftime and postgame performances with the Blue Band.

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Last Updated August 07, 2012