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Knox Catholic High graduate joins UT majorettes

During the first University of Tennessee football game of the 2006 season Elisa Wilhoit was living out her dream on the field.

Fifteen years of practicing twirling paid off April 9 when Elisa was selected to join The Pride of the Southland Marching Band as a majorette.

“Going out there and performing for the first time was incredible because I knew that I had worked my whole life to be a U-T majorette,” Elisa said. “I got this huge rush. It was just so much fun for me to do this.”

Elisa graduated from Knoxville Catholic High School in May 2006. She was a twirler for her school all four years and also made time for football cheerleading, Barbara Wilhoit, Elisa’s mother, said.

Between studying to remain a member of the National Honors Society, Eilsa practiced daily with Kathy McCarrell, her coach of 15 years, Barbara said.

Despite Elisa’s experience, twirling at UT has been a whole new experience.

“When you have to hit a hash mark right in the middle it can’t be a centimeter off; it has to be perfect,” Elisa said. “When you watch the performance on video you see how good it looks and how perfect everything has to be.”

While at Catholic High School Elisa performed her own routines during halftime because the school did not have a marching band, Elisa said.

At UT the whole performance must stay in beat with the band, which was a new experience, Elisa said.

“Most of the freshman girls were with a marching band in high school, but I had never done that,” Elisa said. “We practiced our routine without the band first, so once we were with the band it was just like doing it before. I really love it now.”

In high school Elisa would perform a popular routine that included juggling batons lit on fire while the crowd was screaming in excitement, Barbara said.

Barbara said she placed Elisa in twirling classes after reading articles about the sport. Adding that Elisa became more interested at the sport games she attended with her three older brothers, where she constantly watched twirlers perform.

Later, Elisa attended UT Twirling Camp, which introduced her to college twirlers and the idea of one day being a UT majorette.

Her dream has finally come true, but now it is the reality of daily practices and studying broadcasting, the concentration in her communications major, that is the priority, Elisa said.

“All those practices, no matter how hard they were; it paid off,” Elisa said. “I’m already ready for the next game.”

Although Elisa’s schedule is busy, it is nothing she has not dealt with before.

Elisa was captain of the football cheerleading squad, worship chair for the Knoxville Y-Teens, featured twirler and a member of six other clubs at Knoxville Catholic High School during her senior year.

In 2005, she won the Miss Majorette of Tennessee title, and became the Tennessee State Twirling Champion.

As for Elisa’s future in twirling, it could lie in the hands of other young majorettes.

“I want to help other kids and maybe do that at night or in the afternoon, but I want to do the broadcast thing too,” Elisa said.

Elisa is the daughter of Mac and Barbara Wilhoit of Farragut. She is the granddaughter of Mary and Ralph Conlee of Farragut and Thelma and George Wilhoit of Farragut.


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