2017-08-12 / Sports

Newport baton twirler chasing success

Argus Champion

Danielle Cherry from Newport relaxes for a bit before competing at America’s Youth on Parade twirling contest on the campus of Notre Dame. — COURTESY Danielle Cherry from Newport relaxes for a bit before competing at America’s Youth on Parade twirling contest on the campus of Notre Dame. — COURTESY NEWPORT — At an early age, Danielle Cherry went to a Willey-Perra Christmas Show in Newport, spotted the baton twirlers in action, and thought it was “super cool.”

And that led to the start of her own twirling career in 2009 while she was a fourth-grade student in Newport. Although she still hasn’t quite reached the pinnacle of her quest, it is within sight.

Danielle, a Newport resident and incoming senior at Bishop Brady High School in Concord, got to mingle with the cream of the twirling crop the last week of July at America’s Youth on Parade at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

There, she was just one of approximately 3,000 twirlers in the competition at the Joyce Center, Notre Dame’s basketball arena.

It was her fourth visit to the competition at Notre Dame but this time it was a bit different.

As a 17-year old, Danielle found herself in the top division involving twirlers between 16 and 23 years of age.

“This was my first year in the Big Leagues and it was very hard,” she stated. “I was like the baby of the Division so they liked to beat up on me,” she recalled with a smile.

In her group of 56 girls, Danielle was third in the three-baton competition and by that high finish qualified for the Gold Invitational at Twirlmania Feb. 13 at Disney World. She was eighth in the Show Twirl using 1, 2, 3 and 4 batons. Her specific song for the routine was “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin.

Danielle is also a member of the Red Star Twirlers based in Derry and coached by former Newporter Gina Willey-Hutchinson.

“I’m amazed at Gina’s energy level and not getting sleep. She just keeps on going,” said Danielle’s Mom, Sandra Cherry.

In the 9-15-year old class the Red Stars were in the Top 5 in four of them and in two others finished in the Top 10 at Notre Dame.

“It was the first time ever our team placed in all six categories,” Danielle,” said.

The top team goes to the World competition.

“There were some crazy, crazy teams at Notre Dame who came to play hard, sticking strictly to competition. The Red Stars participate in charity events, parades and shows,” she said.

Prior to competing at Notre Dame, members of the Red Star Twirlers team practiced for three days each week. Danielle said those “competition only” teams generally practice five days a week.

Danielle started out with the Tigerettes of Newport before advancing to the Red Stars. She has marched with the Red Star team in the Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., and was also in the Miss America Show Us Your Shoes Parade in Atlantic City.

In July of 2018 the Red Stars have been invited to twirl in Paris, performing at the Eiffel Tower.

“We have tried for years to get into the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade but without a band it’s hard,” Danielle noted. In past years the Red Stars have performed in China and Russia.

The competition at Notre Dame covering one week started at 7 a.m. on some days and finished at 11:30 at night.

“We also had to fend for our food as there were no vendors open,” Danielle stated.

Their warm-up tops indicate the Red Stars are from New Hampshire, USA and they also have a whole bunch of flags on those tops of countries they have visited.

“No other team had that at Notre Dame,” Danielle said.

Over the years and with countless hours of practice, Danielle has advanced her own repertoire, performing with four batons at once; three fire batons and dong five spins under the single twirl.

All those trips to Derry, two each week for practice sessions, have added up. At about 140 miles round trip, twice a week, Danielle calculated she has used 7.6 percent of her life on the road.

The daughter of Dan and Sandra Cherry of Newport, Danielle is an honor roll student at Bishop Brady where she has taken several advanced placement courses. Right now she is looking at possibly attending Florida State after graduating from Bishop Brady.

“They have a very high ranking twirl team of about 20 girls who march with the band,” she said. After college her goal continues to be a major film producer/director.

Looking back on her recent experience at America’s Youth on Parade, Danielle came away with this impression:

“It’s great that this little team from New Hampshire and someone from a small town like Newport can compete at this level.”

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