Morgan Proctor has had a baton in her hands almost as long as she’s known how to walk. The Buffalo, New York, native spent a lot of time in her mother’s baton twirling gym, dedicating hours each day to the craft.
When she was 10 years old, Proctor placed in the top six at the America’s Youth on Parade competition. That’s when she realized if she really pushed herself, baton could take her pretty far – and that’s exactly what has happened.
Proctor became the 2018 World Champion in the two-baton, the 2018 Twirling Unlimited World Majorette, 2017 Twirling Unlimited International two-baton and three-baton champion and represented Team USA in 2018 and 2019.
She watched her older sister, Miranda, head off to twirl for the University of South Carolina and knew she also wanted to end up at a Division I school.
“There were a lot of schools I had my eyes on,” said Proctor, who wanted to find a university with a good nursing program.
When she had the opportunity to join UofL’s then-feature twirler, Steffany Lien, on the field for a football game in October of 2019, something clicked.
“When I walked onto the field, I knew it was my place and my home,” said Proctor. “I knew [UofL] was where I wanted to be.”
When Lien graduated and the feature twirler spot opened up, Proctor’s decision to audition was an easy one. The process didn’t come without some nerves, though. The mid-pandemic audition was shifted to Zoom, so the high school senior performed her 8-minute routine as her mom recorded in their busy gym.
It paid off. After tryouts, Proctor was named the feature twirler for her freshman year at UofL, despite heavy competition from several acclaimed twirlers.
“It’s really cool when people come up and say ‘I saw you at the football game’ or ‘I saw you at the Cardinal Kickoff’,” Proctor said. “People know my face and my name and it’s just because of baton.”
She has loved her experience so much, in fact, she spends extra time practicing on her own.
“It’s just fun for me and it’s a good way to get my mind off of things sometimes,” Proctor said. “I love making new tricks and just taking time for myself.”
Just as she was quick to pick up a baton, the twirler was quick to find her home-away-from-home at UofL. She was immediately immersed in the work that is band camp and was increasingly surrounded by a sense of Cardinal pride.
“On gamedays everyone chants ‘Go Cards’ or they do the ‘C-A-R-D-S’ cheer and it’s just… that’s what I’m here for,” Proctor said. “It’s so incredible to see all of the red in the stadium and know that they’re watching the band. This is [the experience] I’ve wanted my whole life and I’m just so happy that I’m actually getting it.
During her time at UofL, Proctor is bound to have some unique experiences. Her debut as the feature twirler was at the Mercedes Benz Superdome, she’s quickly become a recognizable face at campus events and as the Cardinal Marching Band’s feature twirler, she will perform at the Kentucky Derby.
“[Being a Cardinal] is so special,” Proctor said. “It means to have a family. I love it.”