Rolling Out

Howard twirlers return to marching band for 1st time in 15 years

The university’s Showtime band added a touch of razzle-dazzle this fall
Howard twirlers return to marching band for 1st time in 15 years
Howard University marching band twirlers perform at halftime of the 2022 Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge. (Photo credit: Rashad Milligan for rolling out)

The Howard University marching band has added a touch of pizzazz to its show this fall.

For the first time in 15 years, the Bisons’ halftime show featured twirlers.

After Howard’s first game of the season against Alabama State on Aug. 27 at the 2022 Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Atlanta, twirling sophomore Najah Adams spoke to rolling out about bringing twirling back to the program and HBCU culture.

How was the first show?

Well, Howard University just had baton twirlers this year. It was our first field show for the first time in over 15 years. It was great being out there. The energy was great. The crowd [was] great. For our first time, we did wonderfully. The energy was amazing. And I love everyone.

How nervous were you knowing it was the first time you guys had that in 15 years?

We’re a little nervous, but we were really prepared with band camp, working well over the summer and in how prepared our routines were. We were nervous as anyone would be, but we felt pretty secure in our routines and our confidence as well.

What was it like performing in a huge stadium in front of a large crowd?

It was amazing. It was a thrilling experience. It was actually all of our first times, all four of us were twirlers, all of our first times performing in front of a crowd like this.

What’s your favorite part of this group?

My favorite part of this group is just the community and the family aspect. I love the Howard University Showtime band. Everyone is loving, everyone has been so nice to us coming in for the first time. I was also a little nervous about being a little bit of an outsider, but everyone has been so welcoming — all the coaches, students and staff.

At what point in life did you want to be a twirler?

I’ve been twirling the baton for 13 years, so since I was 5 years old. My parents just put me in a lot of things — soccer, cheerleading, ballet, tap dance — just so I [could] have something to do, and baton was really the only thing that stuck. I grew up in a predominantly White area, and I did competitive baton twirling. I persevered through the hardships I faced being one of the only Black baton twirlers in the arena, but I just stuck [with it] and I created this group in February of this year so we could be in the Showtime band.

What’s the transition been like going from your hometown of Cleveland to an HBCU school?

It’s very different. The band, the community and the school have very different aspects. Everything is so much different. It’s a lot better than what I was used to growing up.

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