The girl who twirls: Chapman pep band’s baton twirler

Emily Hanna is a junior biological sciences major and the “Feature Twirler” at Chapman. Originally from El Segundo, California, she’s been into baton twirling from a very young age and now represents Chapman with the pep band at select events.

When did you get into twirling?

I was 6 years old and in the summer, my mom wanted to get me involved, so she enrolled me in some classes in the little recreation center in my town and baton was one of them. Now, when I was a kid I didn’t really wanted to get involved in things so my mom bribed me with a Barbie doll to get me to start twirling and I was down because Barbies were my life back then. I went to the class and immediately fell in love, and have been twirling ever since.

When did you start competing?

I’ve been competing since I was about 12 years old. I’ve had the opportunity to go to nationals and I actually have a nationals’ title too which is pretty cool. I’m not good enough to go to worlds, but that’s OK because the girls who do are unbelievable. There are also a lot of guy twirlers too which people don’t think about.


Hanna has competed in national competitions throughout her baton twirling career. Photo by Bonnie Cash

What’s your favorite thing about twirling?

I just love seeing little kids get excited about it, especially when they’re able to do certain moves like “puppy paddles.’

How did you get the position at Chapman?

When I was applying to colleges, twirling for a school wasn’t my main priority. I’m a biology major and I want to be a pediatrician one day, so I was definitely focused on that and I have the idea that if I get to twirl, then absolutely fantastic, but if I don’t then it’s not the end of the world. So Chapman was my No. 1 school and I wanted to see if it had a band. It didn’t have a marching band, but it had a pep band, and I watched videos of them and they were this awesome group of just music kids who goofed around and played pop songs. So I emailed the pep director the summer before I started and asked about being a twirler for Chapman and if we could meet to see if I could fit with the band and stuff. He was like, ‘Yeah that’s amazing, we’ve never had one but we’ll set up a meeting.’

What’s your workout routine like?

I stretch a lot. That’s something I have to do before every practice and that’s probably the most important thing. I do try to go to the gym but I mostly just do cardio and not really strength because it’s kind of just happened over the years, especially when you start juggling with both of your arms. So I’ve built up my strength over the years just by twirling.

With all the work you put into twirling, having a job and studying, are you able to get involved in other ways at Chapman?

Hanna usually practices baton twirling for at least one hour a day. Photo by Bonnie Cash

I’m extremely involved. My work is as a calculus tutor and supplement instructor, which gets me to meet a bunch of new people. I’m also in the Pi Beta Phi sorority, which has been an absolutely amazing experience. My (sorority) sisters and I get food all the time which is really nice. We’re all such “foodies.” I’m also a Chapman ambassador, and at Winterfest I was one of the elves with Santa so that was really cool. I also have the opportunity to do research with two amazing professors, (biology professor Cassandra) Medvedeff and (biology professor Jason) Keller. Dr. Keller is super awesome because his project is funded by the Department of Energy. I’m also the secretary of the Women in Science and Technology club here.

What would you say about the school spirit at Chapman?

I get an awesome take on the school spirit because I hang out with the pep band kids They have so much Panther pride it’s unbelievable, and it’s so much fun because whenever you walk by somebody or when I’m twirling, it gets people so pumped up and helps with their school spirit. You can see people low key dancing in the seats and it’s really fun.

Where do you usually perform?

We love to perform for the parents at the football tailgates. Apart from that, there are football games, the chili cook-off, Chapman Dog Day, the 5K Chapman used to have during Homecoming Weekend. Disney has asked us to perform at their marathons a few times, so we’ll do the Avengers marathon. We also did CHOC walk with Disney, and basically they had us set up at a certain point of the route and we play some songs and I’m twirling. It’s really fun because people are running by and they hear their favorite song and they’ll stop and film us and get so into it. It’s really funny because we also have some really cool 80s rock songs and these older guys running by know everything and they get so into it and it’s so much fun.

Junior biological sciences major Emily Hanna joined The Pride of Chapman Pep Band during her freshman year. Photo by Bonnie Cash

What’s your favorite food?

I do try to eat healthy, but I’m a really big sucker for fast foods, so I love a really good burger and chicken nuggets. Oh, I’m obsessed with nuggets. In-N-Out’s a good one, too.

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