California native with Husker roots gives marching band, engineering a twirl
When Californian Kimberly Law was winnowing her list of possible college destinations, a number of factors helped make her decision – strong STEM degree programs, school spirit, a love for football.
Just as importantly, Law wanted to give performing with a marching band a whirl -- or more accurately, a twirl.
Now one of the two featured twirlers and one of 32 engineering students in the Cornhusker Marching Band, the freshman who was home-schooled in California is settling in just fine to her first year as a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“I know it’s far away (from family), but it just felt right,” Law said. “Everyone here was so nice. I shadowed a chemical engineering student and got to go into a class and see some of the labs. It was all so appealing.”
The reaction of her family and friends, including a couple former Husker gymnasts, to her choosing Nebraska confirmed the decision.
“Everyone was so excited. That we were so far away from Nebraska and they were so excited about the school really told me how great being here was,” Law said.
Two months into her first semester as a college student, Law has found a routine that allows her the structure she needs to succeed – both as a chemical engineering student and with the marching band.
Every weekday at 7 a.m., Law joins the band for 90 minutes of practice. Then, most days, it’s off to a gym or the rec center for more baton practice before heading to a full day of classes and then lots of homework. The experience gained from taking classes a community college before coming to Nebraska has helped with the transition, Law said.
“It’s nice that band is early in the morning. It wakes you up,” Law said. “I focus on getting to classes on time, waking up at the right time and starting homework early. You just have to stay ahead. I do as much on the weekends as I can to catch up. I’m doing good so far.”
The path to choosing engineering, Law said, was all about finding the right mix of opportunities.
“I do well when I get to do a lot of different things, especially in school. I’ve always loved math since I could remember, and I always did well at it. But when I took my first chemistry class, I loved it,” Law said. “I wanted a balance of the two, and chemical engineering doesn’t make me focus on just one thing. It sounds funny, but that gives my mind a break.”
And, Law said, performing as a baton twirler helps maintain her creative side and keeps her connected to her family -- mom was a featured twirler at the University of Washington and Law’s two older sisters also competed in the sport.
This past summer at the Collegiate Twirling Championships, Law earned the Solo “Wow” Award and a $250 scholarship given to the twirler with the most eye-catching performance.
“The best part was that I got to represent Nebraska. That was amazing,” Law said. “I hadn’t even taken a class yet, and I was helping to get the word out about our band and the College of Engineering so that maybe more people will think about wanting to come here.”
Having been a twirler for many years, being in parades, festivals and numerous stage performances, Law knows the nerves that come with performing in front of an audience. But, Law said, her first Husker game day experience was a shock.
“It was crazy. You get to Westbrook Hall so early in the morning and your adrenaline is pumping all day long, even before you put on the uniform,” Law said. “Then you go out for the Kimball Hall recital (one hour before kickoff), and you see thousands of people there, that’s so cool.
“Then we march to the stadium, we get to sing our band songs and everyone is clapping as we come into the stadium. But standing on that field with 90,000 people looking at you, and the first notes from the band are playing, there’s no feeling like it. It’s a shot of energy into your body.”
Law said she was surprised how calm she felt when it came time to perform her first routine in Memorial Stadium. Despite the strange surroundings, it all felt familiar.
“It would be more nerve-wracking to perform for just one person. In competitions, you have just one or two judges,” Law said. “In the stadium, you can’t see any one person’s face. It just looks like a big sea of color when you’re out there. I’ve learned to zone out the noise and focus on twirling so I don’t get hurt or drop the baton. You have to have a mindset of focusing on what you’re doing.”
Though she hails from a town about two hours from Los Angeles and most of her family lives on the West Coast, Law grew up knowing Nebraska had a special place in the hearts of her relatives.
“We have Husker roots to way back when,” Law said. “My grandma was born in Fairbury. She has been waiting for one of her grandchildren to go to Nebraska, and I’m the last one. When I toured the campus and the College of Engineering, I just thought, ‘this is home.’ ”
ENGINEERING STUDENTS IN THE CORNHUSKER MARCHING BAND
Olivia Boldt, percussion, mechanical engineering, Madison, South Dakota
Paul Circo, trumpet, electrical engineering, Omaha, Nebraska
Austin Collins, trombone, computer engineering, Omaha, Nebraska
Spencer Collins, trumpet, software engineering, Omaha, Nebraska
Hunter Crittenden, alto saxophone, chemical engineering, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Candelario Diaz, alto saxophone, construction management, Grand Island, Nebraska
César Echevarría Méndez, alto saxophone, Electrical Engineering, Bellevue, Nebraska
Adam Eddy, tuba, chemical engineering, Hastings, Nebraska
Elijah Elmshaeuser, trumpet, mechanical engineering, Ogallala, Nebraska
Jacob Evans, tuba, civil engineering, Lincoln, Nebraska
Colm Gill, trombone, chemical engineering, Lincoln, Nebraska
Harrison Grasso, trombone, biological systems engineering, Lincoln, Nebraska
Sam Harre, trumpet, mechanical engineering, Kearney, Nebraska
Dylan Hoppner, tenor saxophone, chemical engineering, Austin, Texas
Nathaniel Iverson, trumpet, biological systems engineering, Omaha, Nebraska
Jenna Knudtson, percussion, electrical engineering, Brookings, South Dakota
Ryan Koch, trumpet, mechanical engineering, Hebron, Nebraska
Kimberly Law, twirler, chemical engineering, La Quinta, California
Anthony McIntosh, percussion, software engineering, Bellevue, Nebraska
Meaghan Pecha, trumpet, civil engineering, Bellevue, Washington
Ryan Regan, alto saxophone, mechanical engineering, Omaha, Nebraska
Ally Richardson, trombone, biological systems engineering, Elkhorn, Nebraska
Troy Scheer, alto saxophone, biological systems engineering, Grand Island, Nebraska
William Semerad, tuba, construction management, Schuyler, Nebraska
Spencer Stream, trumpet, software engineering, Lincoln, Nebraska
Megan Suelter, trombone, chemical engineering, Omaha, Nebraska
Eric Ullman, trumpet, civil engineering, Lincoln, Nebraska
Eric Vander Woude, horn, mechanical engineering, Lincoln, Nebraska
Zachary Vyhlidal, trombone, mechanical engineering, Elkhorn, Nebraska
Marie Wagner, clarinet, civil engineering, Omaha, Nebraska
Jack Wilke, baritone, civil engineering, Lincoln, Nebraska
Jennifer Wynn, tuba, agricultural engineering, Trenton, Michigan
- Follow the Cornhusker Marching Band twirlers on Twitter
- Nebraska Today article about Cornhusker Marching Band
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