Three Red Star Twirlers Receive Awards for Character

Derry’s Red Star Twirlers, under coach Gina Hutchinson, have been all over the world and won myriad twirling awards at competitions nationwide. The awards for twirling are exciting but Hutchinson said she takes pride in the many awards the young women have earned over the years for their citizenship, sportsmanship and character.

Twirler Alyssa McLaughlin of Derry attended South Range Elementary School and graduated from Pinkerton Academy and the University of Connecticut, where she led the Husky Marching Band. She is finishing up a Master’s degree while working at Aetna Insurance Company in Hartford, Conn.

In April, McLaughlin received the Dorothy Barry Memorial Award at the New Hampshire State Championships for being a role model, mentor and inspiration to twirlers across the country. “McLaughlin rose from a 6-year-old novice twirler to the number one college soloist in America three years in a row, including her recent win in the solo division of the Miss Majorette of America Competition at the University of Notre Dame,” Hutchinson said. “In her career, she has also had disappointments but has remained a competitor with grace, class and determination. A baton sings in her hands, but it is her character that shines above all.”

Jessica Avelar of Nashua, a junior at Saint Anselm College, took the Miss Capital Area competition crown last year and went on to compete in the 2014 Miss New Hampshire. “She had a disappointing twirling presentation and did not make the top 10, but her character was recognized with an award that is perhaps even more important than Miss New Hampshire,” Hutchinson said.

“When the final award of the evening was called, no one stood taller than Avelar,” Hutchinson added. “The Lisa Cripps Richer Memorial Award is given for character and citizenship. It honors a young woman who exemplifies what the Miss America Scholarship Program is about. But, making the top 10 in the Miss New Hampshire competition pales in comparison to being recognized as tops among 28 competitors, for this award is such an honor.”

Avelar is the seventh Red Star Twirler to hold the Miss Greater Derry title, which she won in June. And she recently made the top five finals in two baton and strut at the National Baton Twirlers Association’s (NBTA) Nationals at Notre Dame.

Another of Hutchinson’s Red Star Twirlers received a similar honor. Emma Convey, 16, of Derry won most of the Northeast Regional Championship awards, but the one Hutchinson is most proud of was Convey’s selection for the Bernice Serafino Traveling Trophy. This award focuses on character and sportsmanship; eight other Red Star Twirlers have won this particular award in years past.

Convey is a senior at Pinkerton. She also won three baton championships at the NBTA Nationals, topping a field of 28 competitors from across the country.

The Red Stars were founded by Hutchinson in Plaistow in 1972 and moved to Derry in 1976. The first trip the Red Stars took to the National Championships was in 1979 with the Pinkerton Academy Majorettes, and the team brought home two gold medals. In 1985 the Red Stars began their European Touring Team.

“If you are a Red Star Twirler, you know that the ability to twirl a baton is trumped by your character,” Hutchinson said. “You will be judged for your entire life, not by your twirling skills, but by your character.”