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Former Girls in Black returning
Celebrating 50 years of the “Girl in Black” twirling position at Purdue will be the primary goal of Purdue Bands at Homecoming 2012 on Oct. 12-13. Many of the 20 women who have held that position during those 50 years will return for a banquet on Oct. 12 and to be introduced at the football game on Oct. 13.
For details of Homecoming activities visit www.purduealumni.org/pboac
Of Purdue Bands’ three feature twirling positions, the Golden Girl was established by Juanita Carpenter in 1954 before the name became attached to it. The Silver Twins was created specifically for identical twins Sharon and Karon Roeske in 1960.
The Girl in Black just kind of happened. Fifty years ago, in 1962, Al Wright was infatuated with the twirling skills of June Ciampa but couldn’t offer her the Golden Girl position because it had already been promised to Teddie Darling. So he initially called her the International Twirler and she performed in a black sequin outfit.
A Ross-Ade press box announcer, also taken by Ciampa’s skill, asked Wright, “Who is that girl in black”?
His comment and others led to the “International Twirler” title being dropped and replaced with the more obvious “Girl in Black.” The position was vacant for several years in the 1960s after Ciampa became the Golden Girl, but resurfaced in the early 1970s. The first four-year Girl in Black was Lisa Ross, who graduated in 1979, and the position has been filled ever since.
Twenty women have memories of twirling under that title, including the current Girl in Black, Cecilia Daizovi whose mother and aunt – Kim and Kelli Ratcliffe – both held the same position before her.
Here’s some reminiscences from some of the Girls in Black returning for the Homecoming celebration:
JUNE CIAMPA LAUER, 1962-63: “I was proud to have a new position created for me. Al Wright even commissioned Howard Liva, who was on staff, to compose a new rendition of the well-known “Old Black Magic,” which became the theme song for my features.
Wright made an attempt to have me wear a solid rhinestone costume when I performed at Quebec Canada’s Winter Carnival. When he and Gladys noticed I could barely lift off the ground in a leap, due to the extra 25 pounds the rhinestones weighed back then, Wright suggested I go back to my black sequins and from then on, black was my color.”
LISA ROSS TODD, 1974-78: “I set a new trend in the world of college twirling by wearing my waist length black hair down instead of the traditional bun on top. It marked the beginning of the dancer and free style image of the Girl in Black position as it is known today. I traveled to 15 countries, received a crown from the Queen of Sweden, performed in a bull ring in South America, and taught twirling on top of Mount Fuji in Japan. And the sweetest memory of all was hanging out with heartthrob-to-be George Clooney when he was a young boy and his dad was the M.C. for the Purdue Variety Band performances at the Indiana State Fair.”
ANGELA SWORD, 1990-91: “My best memory by far is when I was able to return to my home state of Michigan and twirl in front of my hometown, family and friends in the Big House as a Boilermaker! The greatest opportunity I had from being the Girl in Black was being able to travel to Peru, South America as a goodwill ambassador with the Lions Club and perform throughout the country.”
KRISTA WOODWARD MURPHY, 2002-03: “My very last Indy 500, we debated back and forth about wearing rain coats as the sky was looking pretty dark. Right before we stepped off, we decided to risk it – how bad could it get? About half way around the Indy 500 track, we were caught in a complete downpour! I remembered twirling my heart out and being completely energized for an amazing last performance as the crowd cheered even louder as we made our way to the Grand Stands in the pouring rain. It made for a very exhilarating and very wet last performance! The 500 was later called-off early due to a huge series of tornados coming through!”
KELLI RATCLIFFE RUBLE, 1989-90: “I think the greatest memory was the day I was named Girl in Black and my sister Golden Girl. Having the opportunity to twirl in the spot light with Kim was everything a sister could want. Kim taught me how to do three baton that summer before tryouts and I probably only twirled three baton about 15 seconds at each performance!! I also remember that year it seemed like anytime we had a special performance, the feature twirlers twirled to the same song. If I remember right it was Batman.”
KIM RATCLIFFE DAIZOVI, 1986-89: “Being part of the All-American Marching Band marching in the Presidential Inauguration parade in 1989 was such a touching experience. The fact that the Vice-President, Dan Quayle, was from Huntington, IN the next town over from where I lived made this extra special. As I marched by the booth where the President and Vice-President were located I felt very proud to be an American. It was also fun having people from my home town shouting my name throughout the parade! There is nothing like being part of history!”
TIERNEY BROWN, 2004-08: “Although I have all of these fantastic memories, there’s one that sticks out to me. Oddly enough, this memory occurred in Bloomington, IN (of all places) my senior football season. The ‘All-American’ Marching Band traveled down to the Purdue vs. Indiana Game and performed on the field. For me, it was as if my performance ‘career’ had come full circle and provided me the opportunity to perform one more time for family and friends that had watched my twirling abilities develop throughout the years. On a side note, it was really nice getting to march out onto the field with the All-American Marching Band this time as the last time I was on IU’s field was in front of the Marching Hundred (major upgrade)! Although the Boilers were unable to hold the Hoosiers off that year, the performance back home was still a personal highlight.”
THE COMPLETE LIST OF GIRLS IN BLACK:
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