It's been a big year for one little girl in Altoona.
Coming off a big win at the Miss Majorette of Pennsylvania competition in Beaver Falls in late May, 10-year-old Alexis Starr is getting ready for even bigger things ahead as she gets ready for next month's national competition in South Bend, Indiana.
"I like the competition," said Starr who admitted that as much as she enjoys performing, she doesn't always feel like practicing.
Alexis Starr, 10, of Altoona practices for a national majorette competition next month in South Bend, Indiana.
Starr, who will enter fifth grade at St. John the Evangelist School in the fall, is the daughter of Matthew and Jamie Starr. Apart from twirling, she likes what most girls her age like, such as hanging out with her friends, going to DelGrosso's Amusement Park and playing volleyball.
But twirling is something that runs in the family, and according to her aunt and choreographer P.J. Maierhofer, it's something she's taken to quite well.
"For her age, over the last year, she has really improved a tremendous amount," said Maierhofer. "It's a testament to her practice and dedication.
Starr has a lot to live up to. Not only did her mother and aunt twirl competitively, but she competes and learns with ShowTwirlers competitive baton studio in Altoona, which also happens to be run by her grandmother, Pam Maierhofer.
"She's stepping up to the plate just fine," her aunt pointed out, adding that while Starr sometimes underestimates her abilities, at practice she's focused and quiet.
"At home, she's a ball of energy," Maierhofer said. "I wish I could transition that energy into practice, where she's more reserved. But she's an ideal little student."
After taking first among seven finalists in late May at the state's Beginner Juvenile Pennsylvania Pageant, Starr will compete next month at the Beginner Miss Majorette of America Pageant at Notre Dame University, part of a week-long competition that will include seven events.
Along with competing as an individual, Starr also will be part of the ShowTwirlers team. The competition includes one representative from each state, as well as twirlers representing each region of the country, Jamie Starr said.
After the last win, she told her mom she "had tears in her eyes when they called her name," Jamie Starr said. Starr's looking to top the field again in July, but until then, there will be plenty of practicing. The competition is comprised of three parts - modeling, twirling and x-strut - and will be judged in areas such as appearance, difficulty, gracefulness and showmanship.
Starr said she practices a couple hours three days a week and will put in five- hour practices on Sundays.
"It's definitely something you need to practice to get your timing down, and your consistency," her mom said.
Starr said with baton twirling there is always a new spin, catch or other maneuver to learn, and while the competition is stiff at the events, she'll have her "Twirly Bear" good luck charm with her as usual, along with her team and family.