Making Their Mark series: Freshman Crimsonette joins the ranksBy Will Baggett | 09/12/2017 4:59pm
The stadium noise. The cheering fans. The music from the band. All of it culminates into a true gameday atmosphere that's surreal to freshmen. But what is it like experiencing your first gameday as a University of Alabama freshman from the field itself?
Stepping out under the lights for the first time as a Crimsonette is a feeling only a select few know. With only a couple weeks of practice under your belt, the months of anticipation leading up to that moment all come down to one instant. Each spring, a handful of high school majorettes put in their best effort to audition for a spot on the Crimsonette team, and only a few of them are selected. From there, their first year starts and when boot camp arrives in the fall, the hard work truly begins.
One of the new first year Crimsonette members is freshman Colby Free. She is a graduate from nearby Hillcrest High School, and she is a Family Studies and Human Development major. In describing her first boot camp being a Crimsonette, she said how excited she is to have the opportunity to be a member of the team.
“It was a long week and a half for sure," Free said. "Emotions are high and you’re so sore everyday but looking back I really did have a lot of fun and made a ton of memories. Getting to know all the girls on the team was a lot of fun and a great way to start college.”
The long days at practice were filled with hard work and a lot of focus, she said. She tore a muscle in her calf, which led to a few bumps in the road. However her determination to show up every day helped her to overcome her injury and to keep getting better both physically and mentally.
One of her captains, Courtney Carter, a senior majoring in elementary education, applauded Free and her tenacity to be better every day and to keep working hard.
“She has been doing a great job,” Carter said. “She is a perfectionist and works hard to be at the level she needs to be to perform each Saturday. She has so much energy and gives 100% every day!”
Adjusting to a new environment as a first-year member can be difficult, but veteran Crimsonettes have noted Free's commitment to improving and working her hardest.
Junior Crimsonette, Janna Meeks, studying in the Multiple Abilities Program, has known Free since before twirling together and noted her love for the activity a long time ago.
“Colby has always had big dreams and plans," Meeks said. "She has only been twirling since she was a sophomore in high school when I was her majorette captain at Hillcrest High School. She was always a joy to be on the team with and made others feel confident. I am still thrilled to be twirling with her again, now at The University of Alabama!”
Free performed as Crimsonette for the first time in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium at the opening game against Florida State. Taking the leap from high school stadium to performing for a college football crowd in a professional football stadium was a big deal. However, Free took it in stride and used the large crowd to her advantage.
“In high school, I basically knew everyone in the stands and could see them pretty well, but at the new stadium with 70,000 plus people in it, I couldn’t tell who anyone was or where anyone was,” Free said. “While the thought of that many people is a little scary, it was also good because when performing, all of those people just look like a blur. I’ve always been a performer though, so the more people, the more I’m going to get out there and put on a show!”
While few students will have a parallel experience, Meeks said the group always rises to the occasion.
“What we do is not possible without the others around us,” Meeks said. “The expectations are high, but I always feel like we rise above them because of the dedication our group has. I hope that Colby sees this during her first year as a Crimsonette because this realization made the hard work even more worth it than ever before.”