Story by Kaitlyn DeHaven | Digital Managing Editor, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Sports Director
The Baylor Golden Girls are often seen showing off their talents at Baylor sporting events, but the average fan might not know that some of them also hold national titles, such as San Antonio senior Caroline Carothers, who was Miss Texas 2016.
Carothers began twirling when she was only 6 years old. She came from a military family, so baton-twirling was a talent she could work toward while also staying grounded in the sport. Carothers said at first she was just twirling for herself, but once she moved to Texas, she realized she wanted to twirl at a major university in Texas.
Before Carothers arrived at Baylor, she was involved in competitive baton-twirling, which required hours of practice every day and many detail-oriented corrections. Once she got to Baylor, she said she had to make the transition from being a competitor to a performer.
“Whenever you’re performing for Baylor fans, it’s all about the fun. That’s what they like,” Carothers said. “They like you to take risks. They like you to show them that you’re really having a blast with it. That’s something I’ve really had to learn how to navigate.”
During the summer of 2016, Carothers’ world flipped upside down as she won the Miss Texas title. She had to withdraw from school for an entire year and travel around the country as Miss Texas. Carothers won the talent and interview categories at Miss Texas, and when she competed for Miss America, she was one of the top seven contestants. She said that one of the most valuable things she gained from the experience was the platform she had where she was able to share not only herself, but the sport of baton-twirling.
“It was the biggest honor that I ever could’ve received. I loved it,” Carothers said. “Being able to be on that stage and represent the sport of baton-twirling, showing them what baton-twirling has evolved to be … it was an awesome experience.”
One of Carothers’ main platforms she had while she was Miss Texas was “With Math, I Can.” Through this, she was able to pursue her passion of education by speaking to thousands of students about perseverance and respect, while also teaching them about math.
“I juggle batons, but I was teaching them how to metaphorically juggle life,” Carothers said.
Carothers is carrying this passion into her post-graduate career by planning to attend grad school for educational policy and planning so that she can help get the public education system back on its feet.
Carothers is one of four of the Golden Girls – Carmel, Ind., senior Adaline Bebo; Santa Ana, Calif., sophomore Jillian Taylor; and Gonzales sophomore Paige Glass. Bebo currently holds the title of Miss Dallas 2019 and is also the College Miss Majorette of America.
Carothers said the sisterhood of the twirling world is one of the best parts, and Taylor and Glass agreed. Taylor said that because the sport is unique, it allows them to have a special bond where they can encourage and push each other to be the best they can be.
“Because there are only four of us, the Golden Girls are so much more than a team,” Taylor said. “I’ve always considered them a family.”
Taylor said she looked up to Carothers even before she came to Baylor, and since joining her on the team, she’s been able to bond with her on and off the field, since both of the women are business majors.
Glass said she and Carothers met a while before she came to Baylor because they were in competitive twirling together. She said that having her by her side since the beginning of her journey with Baylor helped her transition into college.
“We borrowed each other’s twirl shoes and practiced together for years,” Glass said. “Seeing her the first day of practice really relieved any nerves I would have felt about the new experience.”
As Carothers finishes up her final semester at Baylor, there are a lot of lasts in proximity. Wednesday night was her last time performing at a Baylor basketball game, and she said it’s bittersweet to leave since twirling at these events has been such an incredible experience. She said overall, even though sometimes the practices are long and oftentimes the games are hot, it’s an honor to perform for the Baylor fans.
“There are no fans like Baylor fans,” Carothers said. “I’m really proud to get to perform for them.”