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ELKHART -- What would a marching band be without a color guard and baton twirlers?
The immediate answer: A lot less fun to watch.
If that's true, the Purdue All-American Marching Band must be at least double the fun.
In addition to its single twirlers -- the Golden Girl and the Girl in Black -- the band features the Silver Twins, two young ladies who are (whenever possible) identical. The positions were created in 1960 and designed specifically for identical twins who could twirl. Barring that, the "twins" are close look-alikes.
The new Silver Twins definitely are identical -- freshmen Sara and Chellie (Rochelle) Zou, two young ladies who, according to mom Sherrie, are pretty much always together.
The girls won the title after day-long auditions for freshmen March 1 at Purdue. These included field tryouts and personal interviews. It moved them from their current positions on the Golduster Dance Team to somewhere near the head of the line.
Even though the featured twirlers have to audition every year to hold their positions, "the graduating Silver Twins have served four years," Sara said. "We're hoping we can do the same." (Note: They were the only twins to audition this year.)
The girls, graduates of Concord High School, are no strangers to competitive togetherness. In 2006, Sara won the title of Elkhart Junior Miss. Chellie was second runner-up. The results, however, definitely were not a cause for sibling friction. "Actually, neither would enter the pageant unless they both did," Sherrie said.
At Concord, the twins were in the Marching Minutemen color guard and on the Dance Team. About three years ago, Sara first became interested in the Silver Twins position.
"We had background in dance (they began lessons at age 3) and performing thanks to the color guard," she said. "Twirling wasn't that far off. We started taking lessons."
The lessons continue at Purdue but there is a difference between Silver Twins' twirling requirements and those for solo performers like former Miss Elkhart County Laurie Broderick Berggren who won the talent competition and made it to the Top 10 in the 1985 Miss America Pageant.
"What we're doing is not comparable to competition twirling," Chellie said. "This is more toward performance and twirling together as a duet. They want us to have the whole package."
Sara and Chellie are roommates at Purdue and both are majoring in communications, but Sara wants to pursue law school and Chellie is less definite about her eventual goals. Purdue's solo twirlers receive scholarships and "they are working on scholarships for the Twins," Sara said.
Ahead lie three years of pre-game and halftime shows during football season (and at some basketball games) plus "wherever the band goes, we go, too," Chellie said. This includes a scheduled 2008 trip to China.
"We're nervous," she admitted, "But more excited than nervous."
"We did all the games and band stuff with the Goldusters," Sara concluded. "But now we'll really be out in front."
Contact Marcia Fulmer at email@example.com.