Erin Ansfield to
twirl as Purdue’s 22nd Golden Girl
Excitement runs high for AAMB’s 115th season, Drum’s 80th
Possessing the poise, the flashy twirling tricks and the charismatic smile the judges were looking for, Erin Ansfield, a sophomore from Oshkosh, Wis., bested eight competitors to become Purdue University’s 22nd Golden Girl.
The announcement was made by William D. Kisinger, acting director of the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band, at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, at Elliott Hall of Music following a long afternoon of competition that included field tryouts and personal interviews.
For the first time in many years, all the solo twirlers are new to their positions, bringing fresh, new performance styles to Ross-Ade Stadium for the 2001 season. Ansfield, a management and pre-law major, brings 17 years of experience to the position of Golden Girl. Joining her in Purdue’s elite twirling ranks are Robyn Andrews as Girl in Black, and Krista Woodward and Kim Benson as Silver Twins.
Robyn Andrews, a junior, is an apparel design and technology major from San Jose, Calif. Krista Woodward, a junior from Waterford, Mich., is a hospitality and tourism management major, while her “twin,” Kim Benson, a junior nursing major, hails from Dublin, Ohio.
The graduation of three of the four twirlers in solo spots last season made the 2001 competition wide open.
“I am ecstatic. I am so excited. I can’t believe it,” said Golden Girl Erin Ansfield, moments after hearing her name announced.
“I knew about the Golden Girl before I came to Purdue and that’s all I wanted to be,” added Ansfield, who says she’ll be more excited than nervous the first time she performs as Purdue’s top twirler at the Notre Dame game on Sept. 15.
Ansfield, a brunette, looks forward to wearing gold sequins but has no plans to dye her hair. For many years, the Golden Girl was required to become a blond, but times have changed. “I was definitely picked for my twirling ability, not my hair color, and I’m going to show people I can do it,” Ansfield says.
Excitement surrounding the twirler tryouts typifies the emotion surrounding the Purdue Marching Band as it heads into its 115th year on campus.
Adding their own unique sparks to the 2001 mix are Stephanie Swierczek, just the third woman to be drum major in those 115 years, veteran assistant director William Kisinger taking over during director David Leppla’s sabbatical, and more than 125 new freshmen from all over the United States.
“I really am delighted to be directing this fall. The students have been so accepting, so helpful, and the band is as strong as ever. They play well and march well. Coupled with anticipation and eagerness we all feel, I think it’s going to be a great year,” says Kisinger.
Plans to celebrate the 80th birthday of Purdue’s Big Bass Drum in grand style in October, and the return of the Alumni Band for Homecoming, add even more spice to the season. A wide mixture of events is planned including a musical salute to the 1920s, the era that gave birth to the drum at the Purdue Orchestra “Pops” Concert on Oct. 14, a wide range of events for kids at Elliott Hall and Lafayette’s Imagination Station, a community birthday party and a Homecoming celebration. Guest of honor at homecoming will be Marcus Gilbert, a 96-year-old Carmel resident, who was on the very first drum crew in 1921.
Swierczek, who was drum major of her high school band in Illinois, the Waubonsie Valley Marching Warriors, set her sites on being drum major at Purdue from her first day on campus.
“Band keeps me motivated, in shape and active. There’s nothing like it anywhere else. Being the drum major is just the icing for me. The whole band experience is the really great part,” Swierczek says.
“I want to have a real influence on making this band the very best it’s capable of being. We’re one of the best marching programs in the nations, and to have my name associated with it is the greatest thing in the world. I want to give that pride and enthusiasm back to the members of the AAMB by doing the absolute best job I can.”Rounding out the new faces in leadership roles with the “All-American” Marching Band this fall are graduate assistant Matt Conaway, a recent music education graduate from Indiana University, and visiting instructor Boyd Loughrige, a retired Ohio public schools band director.