DERRY — In the more than 40-year history of the Red Star Twirlers, there have been thousands of trophies, medals and championships tallied both nationally and internationally.
But with all those achievements through the years, it's the Marjorie Gilbert Sportsmanship Award that means the most to Red Stars' founder and coach Gina Hutchinson.
The baton twirlers received the award at a recent competition held at Whitman-Hanson High in Whitman, Massachusetts.
The award is named for baton twirling icon Marjorie Gilbert, who spent her younger years performing overseas with Bob Hope in USO shows during World War II. After decades of coaching and as director of the Miss Majorette of Massachusetts and Mrs. Massachusetts pageants, Gilbert, now in her 90s, is still involved in twirling as a National Baton Twirling Association judge.
The Red Stars have won this award three times, each with teams that were the complete package, Hutchinson said, adding this year's team is also talented, and every member is committed to the team concept.
"Each is an outstanding student with parents who also believe in the value of team," Hutchinson said in a press release. "And that is what makes this year’s award even more special. It was given to the Red Star families as well, for the support they give their twirlers and others also."
In the decades since their start, the Red Stars have produced 36 alumni going on to lead marching bands at major universities or provided entertainment during college basketball season.
The team has also performed in tours to seven countries since 1985, as recently as last summer when they were the first baton twirlers to perform at Disneyland in Paris, France. Red Stars have been awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarships with the help of their unique global resume.
"Not a lot of high school seniors have performed on the Great Wall of China when they were 10 or walked the rows of graves of American soldiers at Normandy, France as the team and families did last summer," Hutchinson added.
The good news keeps coming, Hutchinson said. In two weeks Olivia Bollhorst will audition to twirl at the University of Alabama, where she will be enrolled in the school's pre-med program. On that same day, Katie Carlson, Miss Exeter, will compete for the title of Miss New Hampshire. Carlson was a member of the Penn State majorettes and joined many former Red Stars in paying for college through the Miss America Scholarship Program.
At the recent Miss Majorette of New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont held at West Running Brook Middle School, Bollhorst received the Dorothy Barry Sportsmanship Award. Red Star names are engraved on the plaque, dating back to the 1990s.