A chance to twirl

Savannah Necker first dreamed of baton twirling for UNI when she was eight years old.

Savannah Necker

Necker can vividly remember the feeling of running out on the field at the Dome with the Panther Marching Band and hearing her name announced as the featured twirler.

“It was Twirler Day with, at the time, featured twirler Sarah Hythecker, and so I was one of 30 twirlers to come here and I was able to twirl on the football field,” Necker said, recalling her first visit to the campus of UNI as a child.

That childhood experience at Twirler Day left an indelible mark and sparked an interest in UNI that continued through high school, when it become the only college she wanted to attend.

Necker, a senior digital media production and performance major at UNI, has been twirling a baton since the age of four. Her parents enrolled her in classes at a baton studio in their hometown of DeWitt, Iowa, which has a population of about 5,000 people.

From there, twirling became her passion. At eight years old, she was performing in the Walt Disney Parade. Later, she would compete in the Junior Olympics -- where her team would bring home bronze, silver and gold medals -- and even at a nationals competition in Indiana.

But no matter where she competed, all roads led back to UNI.

Once she auditioned and landed the spot as a featured twirler as a freshman, Necker’s first performance with the Panther Marching Band was at Jack Trice Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd as the UNI football team squared off against the Iowa State Cyclones.

“It was a very surreal feeling,” she said. “But it was weird because I felt extremely calm and at ease and more excited, than anything.

“I was actually more nervous when my first home game came around in the UNI-Dome.”

Necker can vividly remember the feeling of running out on the field at the Dome with the Panther Marching Band and hearing her name announced as the featured twirler.

Her childhood dream had come full circle.

Sadly, Necker will graduate later this year, meaning she has twirled her last football game for the Panthers. But twirling at UNI has been an unforgettable experience, from meeting some of her best friends in the marching band to performing at the New Year’s Day Parade in Rome.

After graduation, she plans to pursue a career as a broadcaster.

“It’s kind of funny, because I never really envisioned that growing up as something that I wanted to do,” Necker admitted. “When I was eleven, I wanted to be a dolphin trainer. Then I wanted to be an orthodontist. But then when I got into pageantry when I was about 15 or 16 years old, I realized I could really use my voice to make a difference. And I knew that whatever I was going to be when I grew up, I wanted to be able to make a difference in some person’s life.”

But that doesn’t mean her twirling batons will be collecting dust while she breaks into broadcasting. Necker has already started teaching baton classes back home in DeWitt, driving there every Saturday to work with about ten girls.

“I hope to continue doing it for a very long time,” she said.

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