Whittney Seckar-Anderson has been to her fair share of Big Ten football games.
The 18-year-old high school senior from Oshkosh, Wis., admits she was not much of a Wisconsin Badgers fan growing up, but her family turned up its college spirit when her older sister, Lacey, became one of Michigan State University’s featured baton twirlers.
Now, after four years of cheering for MSU, Seckar-Anderson’s family has new team colors to sport.
Seckar-Anderson has been named the newest University of Iowa Golden Girl and will take the field at Kinnick Stadium with the Hawkeye Marching Band this fall.
“I’ve seen the atmosphere of a Big Ten stadium on gameday, and it’s always been a dream of mine to twirl on the field with a band,” Seckar-Anderson said.
UI’s Golden Girl is one of the most sought-after twirling positions in the country, in part because of the full-tuition scholarship that comes with it, said Kevin Kastens, director of the Hawkeye Marching Band.
UI also is unique in that its twirler does not have to re-audition each year.
Chelsea Russell, UI’s current Golden Girl, has held the position since 2007 but decided not to pursue a sixth year as she finishes graduate school.
“I was really lucky to even be able to consider Iowa,” Sekar-Anderson said. “I’m lucky to be the year in school I am.”
Twirlers must already have a state or regional title crown to even apply for the position. Of the nine who sent in audition tapes, three were chosen to come to campus for a 15-minute audition and interview.
Kastens said Seckar-Anderson’s experience and natural ability stood out.
“When you’re dancing at a place as large as Kinnick, you need to project abilities up to the person in the top row,” he said. “You need movements that are large and dramatic but still maintain flow and grace. She did that really well.”
Seckar-Anderson has been competing since age 5, and last summer won the national title of Miss Majorette of America. This April, she will travel to Switzerland to participate in a world competition.
Once she returns, Seckar-Anderson can begin preparing to be the Golden Girl. She will report for practice with the rest of the band in August.
“I’m looking forward to that,” she said. “I have always wanted to stay in the Midwest. When I visited Iowa, I fell in love with the campus. It seems like a great school.”