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Golden Girl takes the gold

BY BEN MARKS | APRIL 22, 2015 5:00 AM

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On a podium in Lignano, Italy, surrounded by her team and a cheering crowd, Whittney Seckar-Anderson finally held the gold trophy she and her team had worked so hard for.

The group competed at the World Championship of Twirling and Majorettes, and it was named the best twirling and parade corps in the world.

Seckar-Anderson is a communication-studies major at the University of Iowa and is perhaps best known for her role as the Hawkeye Marching Band’s Golden Girl.

On stage in Italy however, she was the team captain of the Touch of Silver Twirling Corps.

Twirling runs in Seckar-Anderson’s blood.

Her older sister, Lacey Seckar-Anderson, was the featured twirler at Michigan State, and her mother, Julie Seckar-Anderson has run a dance studio, Julie’s Touch of Silver, for 34 years and twirled at the University of Mississippi.

Whittney Seckar-Anderson’s first dance lessons came when she was 3.

“I would let them do whatever they wanted to do, but they seemed to enjoy it, and they stuck around the studio all the time,” Julie Seckar Anderson said.

Growing up twirling did lead to some sacrifices for Whittney, her mother said.

“When anybody’s so completely involved in a sport like this, you have to make choices,” she said “I know during middle and high school, she chose not to do a lot of stuff the normal kids were doing.”

As she grew up, Seckar-Anderson continued to twirl, gathering an impressive collection of trophies along the way, including first place at the 2012 World Open Solo Championships and third place for her solo in the 2012 World Championship in Switzerland.

The world championship is held every three years, so this was Seckar-Anderson’s first time back after winning bronze.

However, she said, her return was not motivated by her previous third-place win.

“[Switzerland] was the first time I’d every competed individually, so I had no idea what to expect,” she said. “So getting third was like getting gold.”

This time however, she won gold, but it wasn’t easy.

As the Golden Girl, Seckar-Anderson twirls with the Marching Band at all home football games, doing pregame and halftime shows as well as any parades the band does.

Hawkeye Band Director Kevin Kastenspraised her dedication and hard work and said he believed she truly enjoyed creating new twirling routines and performing for the crowd.

In addition to these events, Seckar-Anderson practices with the band two hours a day and by herself for another hour.

She also teaches two-hour dance lessons in the Field House during the week, and somehow, during all of this, Seckar-Anderson squeezes in her homework.

However, to prepare for the world championship, starting in November, Seckar-Anderson began driving back home to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, a four and a half hour drive, every other weekend to practice with her team. In March, a month before the championship, it was every weekend.

This put a lot of pressure on Seckar-Anderson, who said she usually does most of her homework during the weekend.

In Italy, the corps competed in two events — parade corps and twirling corps.

The corps won gold twice before for parade but had never before competed in the more difficult twirling corps.

Although fairly confident they were going to win parade, the members expected to lose twirling, Seckar-Anderson said, so when the scores were read, “everybody stood up and started screaming, and clapping, and cheering.”

“They played the national anthem,” she said. “Then as a team we got to go stand on the podium. It was cool to experience because you always see that happening on the Olympics, and you always wonder what those people feel like.”

While Seckar-Anderson can now sit back and enjoy her weekends again, she said it’s hard to feel a sense of closure.

“I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment, but it’s hard to find a place to end,” she said. “Maybe after I finish my fifth year as the Golden Girl and I’m no longer twirling for school, I’ll feel more of a sense of closure, but as long as I’m still doing that, I feel I might as well continue to compete … But yeah, I don’t know what’s next.”


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