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Her Voice: NDSU baton twirler among top in nation

Shaina Magel, 20, of Fargo is a baton twirler with the North Dakota State University Gold Star Marching Band. Special to The Forum

FARGO – Shaina Magel started twirling batons when she was 7 years old.

Now the 20-year-old North Dakota State University junior is the feature twirler with the Gold Star Marching Band.

“I love the fact that it’s so different from everything else,” Magel said.

She started taking lessons with YMCA of Cass and Clay after she saw a baton twirler at an NDSU football game.

“I was just awestruck,” Magel said.

She started twirling with NDSU’s marching band in 2008 when she was a freshman in high school, and she recently returned from the national America’s Youth on Parade competition in Indiana, where she placed in the top 10 in several events.

Magel competed in 10 events and placed second in flag baton and show twirling, sixth in two baton, ninth in solo (twirling with one baton), and ninth in strut (a strength and flexibility event).

Magel has competed at nationals every year since she started twirling.

“I love going to nationals because you see all the twirlers from around the country,” she said. “Being from Fargo, N.D., there aren’t a whole lot of twirlers around here.”

Magel, a broadcast journalism major, also started taking dance lessons when she was 7 years old to help with her twirling, she said. She’s taken ballet, pointe, tap and jazz.

“Baton twirling, it has a lot of not only flips and tricks, but it has a lot of body work, too,” she said. “The technique you get from dance helps immensely.”

She has been a soloist with FM Ballet and has won national dance competitions.

Magel, who is currently Advanced Miss Majorette of North Dakota, also works with young twirlers.

“It’s great to see their eyes light up when you’re doing flips and tricks,” she said. “Even the simplest things catch their eyes.”

Magel said she typically practices at least two hours a day, especially in the summer. Since her coaches are in Pennsylvania, and she usually sees them twice a year, Magel said motivating herself is her biggest challenge.

“Practicing every day, I have to keep it up otherwise I’ll lose my skill,” she said.

Even with the practice she puts in, Magel said occasionally dropping the baton is just part of the sport. While the idea of dropping it made her nervous when she was young, she said she’s learned to just smile, pick it back up, and continue with her routine.

Even once she graduates, Magel said she plans to continue twirling. She wants to continue teaching and competing as much as she can. Her baton coaches are in their early 30s, and Magel said they still compete.

She said she would also like to spread her joy for baton twirling to as many people as possible because she would like to see more people take it up.

The next session of baton twirling classes starts at the YMCA in September. There are group classes for children ages 4 through 12. Private lessons and lessons for older youth and adults are also available.

Her Voice is a weekly article about women in or from our area and how they make an impact on the world around them. If you know someone SheSays should feature in HerVoice, email Tracy Frank at

Tracy Frank

Tracy Frank is a SheSays, Variety, and Farmer's Forum reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to

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