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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 18, 2008

To view a QuickTime video news package of Chelsea Russell, the new UI Golden Girl, in action with her students, inspiring a new generation of golden girls, click here.

New UI Golden Girl offering baton-twirling classes, carries on tradition

Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band Golden Girl and baton-twirling champion, Chelsea Russell, is putting her skills to good use with her young twirling students as she lends her abilities to their advancement. Russell offers baton-twirling classes every Thursday night on the main level of the UI Field House through UI Recreational Services. Her hope is to inspire young twirlers in Iowa to improve their skills and have fun.

 “I’m wanting to make Iowa more competitive and broaden what we already have,” Russell said.

Highly skilled baton-twirling has become a tradition for the Hawkeyes, as exemplified by former Golden Girl Diana Reed, who first established the twirling classes. Last year, finding a good replacement twirler and teacher was a big part of the audition for the Golden Girl title.

Russell, a freshman studying English and going for her performance entrepreneurship, now holds the title and is very comfortable in the position.  She has been teaching since the age of 15, following in the footsteps of her coach, also her mother, Kelli Russell, 1979’s Miss New York and the first woman ever to win the talent portion of Miss America for twirling.

Her baton twirling skills have taken her to a global level, with travels to Japan, England, France and even to Peru, where she has done charity work.

Increasing the level of twirling in Iowa will take much time and effort, but Russell says with conviction that she will do so.  The young twirlers already show off their skills in the UI Homecoming parade, but she wants them to do more performing.

Russell’s twirling career began at the age of 3 in Williamsville, N.Y., and it has led her to numerous awards and championships, including capturing the Miss Majorette of America in 2006.  She maintains that twirling is a huge part of who she is and will continue to be in her life after college.  “Once you get into the baton world you never get out,” said Russell.

Most classes begin with a warm-up for the wrists and arms, moving to more complex and intricate maneuvers as the student’s progress.  Students working in pairs are able to exchange batons in mid-air and toss them up over the other’s head, catching them with a grin and a giggle.

Russell says the best part about teaching is when the kids have fun. “When the kids work hard and get a hard trick, the look on their faces is so great!” said Russell.

Her current students range from 4 years old to 13 years old, but classes are open to all ages. Russell also offers private lessons on Sundays and teaches in Williamsburg on Wednesday evenings.

Beginning and intermediate classes at the Field House begin at 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. and run approximately 45 minutes once per week. The cost is $32 per 4-week session.  The last day to sign up for a session is Feb. 21.

For more information please contact Chelsea Russell at
For a complete schedule visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Lois J. Gray, University of Iowa News Services, 319-384-0077,; Writer: Jenna Ely; Video: Jay Knoll.