WKU baton twirler named finalist in national social media challenge

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The Western Kentucky University Big Red Marching Band is known for playing at all of the university’s major sporting events, but mainly football and basketball games.

One member of the band, who doesn’t even play an instrument, is a finalist for a national social media award, and it all started with a video posted to Instagram.

“This award is brand new this year,” said Madalynn Alt, the Feature Baton Twirler for the WKU Big Red Marching Band. “It doesn’t even have to do with twirling.”

Alt is referring to the 2019 Twirl Mania Social Media Award Challenge, and she is one of the 12 finalists for the inaugural honor.

In order to be eligible for the award, participants had to submit a video telling judges their “fairytale story” involving Twirl Mania, which is a national competition for baton twirling, held annually in Orlando, Florida.

Alt’s story was centered around her family and her passion for baton twirling.

“In 2013, my family had a really bad car accident on the way to Twirl Mania,” she said. “We didn’t expect all four of us to make it out because it was really bad. It was two drunk drivers. We made it out and everything was good. We went to the competition. At the competition, I won a ‘Mousecar”, which is a coveted Twirl Mania award. That was really exciting especially with what happened. We didn’t expect to have a fairytale ending.”

With applicants sending in videos from across the globe, Alt never thought she would’ve been named a finalist.

“It’s really exciting,” Alt said. “I think it’s just a great way to build up excitement for going to that competition.”

I was chosen to be in the top 12 of the Twirl Mania Social Media Award Challenge finalists! Click on the link in my comments and like my post on Instagram! ????

Posted by Madalynn Alt on Tuesday, February 5, 2019

She will also have the chance to compete in the performance invitation at Twirl Mania, something she’s always had dreams of doing ever since she was a little girl.

“Since I was four, so a very long time,” said Alt. “I’ve been competing since I was seven.”

Some people may get the impression that baton twirling is easy, but Alt says it’s much harder than you’d think.

“A lot of people don’t really understand that it is a sport,” she said. “You have to do so many other things to be good at twirling.”

Some of those “other things” include gymnastics, dancing, hand-eye coordination, and athleticism.

“You have to look the part to play the part,” Alt added.

Alt’s love for baton twirling is so strong that she moved all the way from her hometown in Pennsylvania to continue performing at the collegiate level on the Hill.

“This was my dream to twirl in college, so being able to twirl here at Western is amazing,” Alt said.

Alt’s busy schedule in 2019 is just getting started, with the WKU sophomore also set to represent the United States of America in the Grand Prix baton twirling contest next August in France.