While coaches and football players rush by her as they head to the locker room for a halftime break, Taylar Bolds and the rest of the Rebel feature Twirlers, sprint on to the field with their batons in hand to begin their weekly show.
The last four years, Bolds has been the feature Rebel twirler for every home football game, providing halftime entertainment for the crowd.
The senior, child psychology major from Canton, Ohio, has been twirling since she was 3.
“As a little kid, I remember going straight to the dancing studio after class, and I would work with the baton coaches until my mom got off work,” she said.
Her passion and dedication for twirling grew stronger as she got older. While attending middle school, Taylar noticed that the high school she would be attending did not have a twirler performing during half-time at the football games.
So during the first week of her freshman year at St. Thomas Aquinas High, she walked into the band director’s office and asked to twirl while the band played its half time show. The band director was shocked that someone wanted to twirl to the tune of his band and proudly named her the feature Twirler.
But Taylar was not the superstar twirler she is today. She had never twirled in front of a crowd of people before, and her first live performance was going to be in front of her whole high school alone.
“I was the only twirler performing with the band, so I was really nervous, and it was rough for the first couple of games,” Bolds said laughing. “Twirling in practice compared to a performance is completely different, and it took me a while to get used to that feeling.”
Two years late, Bolds faced another obstacle and suffered a gruesome injury during her junior year. She tore her hamstring and calf muscle while performing and needed surgery and muscle rehabilitation in order to be able to perform her senior year.
With the help of her family and friends, Bolds pushed through the pain of the operation and rehab and was able to twirl her senior year.
“I could not have done that without my parents help,” Bolds said. “They really pushed me hard when I was training because they knew how much twirling meant to me, and they wanted to see me happy.”
Upon graduation, Bolds decided to attend Ole Miss instead of the University of Georgia because she wanted to continue her career as a twirler.
Now, Bolds never gets nervous before a performance at the Vaught. She even has a special way she prepares. Her pre-game ritual involves placing three pieces of black tape on her right fingers, a brand new piece of mint gum, and for her baton to be touched by no one.
“No one can touch my baton on game day,” she said. “It’s just bad luck, and I am very superstitious.”
Bolds and her three teammates practice with each other twice a week before a game to perfect the meticulous techniques of twirling.
She spends most of her practice time catching awkwardly flying batons to improve her catching skills.
Her hard work has paid off, as she brags about not having dropped a baton during a performance in over a year.
“I haven’t had a drop since the Mississippi State game last year,” she said. “Plus, it was raining so that doesn’t really count.”
Bolds most memorable performance in her career was this year’s Alabama game. Between the high capacity crowd and energy from the intense game being played, Bolds said, “It was difficult to keep my composure. I ended up twirling my baton up higher than usual because I had so much energy from the crowd.”
“I will never forget that game day,” she said. “It was one of the best days of my life.”
With plans of graduating in the spring, this past fall was Bolds last season as a Rebel feature Twirler. The season was an emotional roller coaster for her, as she knew her days of performing were numbered.
I loved every minute I spent twirling with my girls over the years, but it was also very sad to walk away knowing your never going to perform with them again,” she said.
Bolds used her years of twirling as an expression of her personal identity and wouldn’t trade her baton in for anything.