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Tonight I got to be a part of Syracuse University History. As the Orange Girl, I have the honor of performing at multiple different sporting events across SU's campus. In the spring, I mostly perform at women's basketball games and tonight, we broke the home-court record in the Carrier Dome with 11,021 fans in attendance! Although Notre Dame walked away with the W (85-80), I could not be happier for our Women's team to be surrounded by the incredible support we saw this evening. I mean, this place was LOUD! And keep in mind, our women's basketball games usually only garner 200-1,000 fans on a typical game day in the Dome. Our Lady Orange put up quite the fight and I was incredibly proud to be able to offer another aspect of Syracuse University pride and spirit to the game day experience for all of those in attendance.

Twirling at basketball games has quite a different dynamic than other performance environments. Unlike a stage or a football field, I can look out into the crowd and actually see the fans' faces and end up making eye contact with them during my performances. And since I am the only person on the court with no other band or spirit team members around me, these are the performances where I realize that literally every single person in the room is watching me. Scary right? Only a little...

Something that fuels my performances, though, is being able to hear a reaction out of the crowd and being able to hear a roar of applause when I catch an impressive trick. This is when I know that my dedication to a (seemingly) lost art is making some type of impact. If that means I'm making even ONE fan pumped up and excited for a basketball game, I am more than satisfied. When I hear that type of reaction, I know that I've done my job and I've entertained/made at least one person smile that day. That alone is one of the most rewarding feelings.

With 11,000+ fans in the Dome tonight, though, this feeling was unlike any others that I've felt this season. Not only did we break the record for attendance, but we did it in pink to raise funds and support women's cancer research through the Play4Kay Organization. This is an initiative from NCAA women's basketball teams across the country and one that the Lady Orange participate in annually to show support for survivors, warriors, and the families enduring the battles of cancer. To show my support, I wore a pink ribbon hairpiece that I got from donating to "Twirling for the Cure" for breast cancer awareness. When I was out there doing my thing during the 4th quarter, I knew exactly who I was performing for among all those people.

Every time I step foot on a field, stage, court or whatever it may be, I am humbled by the opportunity that I have to share my love for twirling with others. I still get butterflies every time I set up to perform and I always have such a rush of adrenaline after it's all finished. No matter the comments I'll occasionally get about twirling not being a "real talent or sport", I know at the end of the day that I have the advantage of making a difference in the lives of others through it. And with my time as the Orange Girl coming to an end in the next few months, I really look forward to the impact I can make from the other side, by paying it forward and giving back to the sport that made me who I am today.

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