Since 2005, P.J. Maierhofer served as Blue Sapphire, Penn State’s feature twirler. The 2007 Q&A with P.J. has been one of the most popular features on this blog. Last month she answered another round of question.
WFY: Let’s start with a question about the Capital One Bowl — how much did you have to perform on that field? I have never seen a college football game in such disrepair.
PJ:The entire band marched pregame on the field… it was pretty rainy/muddy to say the least! I was really glad despite the conditions that we were allowed though considering it was my last one! For halftime, the band stood on the field and did not march. The Majorettes, Silks, and I performed off the sidelines in front of the PSU fans.
WFY: Also, what was with those sunglasses?
PJ: If you knew me, you’d know I’m kinda goofy/quirky. I just like to have fun. Last year at the Rose Bowl I got a pair of 2009 glasses for New Year’s Eve. I wore them around all night. So this year everyone was joking about how I needed to get a new pair! So… I did. I figured it would be fun to put them on during the game and celebrate New Year’s!
WFY: It seems like Blue Sapphires all go for more than four years — you are only the third in the last 15 seasons. So, was the Capital One Bowl was your final half-time performance, or are you on the 7 year plan?
PJ: That was it! I have been blessed and honored to have the position of Blue Sapphire for 5 consecutive seasons. The position takes a year or two or three to really understand and grow into, so staying 5 is really not that big of a deal. I took less classes at a time in school, but did well academically so it pushed back graduation a bit. However, I look at it as this… College is supposed to be the best 4 years of your life – why not make it the best 5? Had I not come back this year, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to compete at Nationals last year with the Majorettes and I probably would have ended my competitive career – which fortunately I didn’t, because it was a great summer 🙂
WFY: Now that you have been to the Orange, Outback, Alamo, Rose, and Capital One Bowls, which one was the best trip?
PJ: First of all, it was truly exciting just to get to see 5 DIFFERENT bowl games. Many schools repeat and I thought it was neat to be exposed to so many new places. They were all great in their own way. The Orange Bowl allowed us to spend New Year’s day on South Beach and I got to see my friends from FSU perform. Outback had some really neat pep rallies including one on the beach and then an awesome Mardi Gra type parade. Alamo was in a dome.. which I loved! We didn’t have to worry about wind, rain…anything – awesome. The Rose Bowl was incredible in terms of the preparation done and the amount of time and number of volunteers involved in making it happen. The 5.5 mile parade is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life – talk about an honor… Leading the best band in the nation down the streets of Pasadena with national TV coverage – so thankful for that opportunity! And lastly, Capital One was a super trip. I knew it was my last one and it didn’t matter if it snowed in the middle of the game, I was going to truly just relax and enjoy the trip/performance …and I did. I loved spending time with my teammates, the band, and soaking up my time left as a Penn Stater!
WFY: What about road venues — which was your favorite? Did you travel to all the road games?
PJ: I didn’t travel to all of them, but of the ones I traveled to… believe it or not I loved Ohio State’s stadium. They have a neat area on the side of their field for people to be able to use for various things. It was a little concreted area where I was able to perform off the field. I know that sounds dorky, but for someone like me it was nice!! And truthfully, I don’t really ever have a favorite venue or least favorite because I just take them in each as a learning opportunity. As a feature twirler you are going to have some times where the space is great and others where you twirl on carpet with 2 inches of ceiling above your head….either way you have a job to do!
WFY: A confession — since my wife and I had a son in 2008, I’ve only been to one home game this year (Akron), and none last year; what routines did I miss? Did you get up to four fire batons?
PJ: I’ve had some pretty fun performances. This year my favorite was our “Picture show” which included a batman routine with capes and eye covers from the majorettes, a Rocky impression from me, Star wars light saber fighting from the silks, and a superman skit from the Lion. It was just so fun to do…. we all loved hearing the crowd cheer as the band made pictures through formations of batman, and boxers, and the superman logo alone with others. We also did a Michael Jackson tribute that was pretty cool. The entire band did the Thriller dance 🙂
WFY: This spring is the first Blue Sapphire Classic. Please share with us what the event is going to be and how involved you are in it.
PJ: The Blue Sapphire Classic was an idea I had at the beginning of my junior year. I wanted to host a baton twirling competition here at Penn State. I may be biased, but I feel like Penn State fans take so much more pride in their twirlers than other schools do. As a result, I am always being asked about baton twirling, how I got involved, where I competed, what a competition is like, etc. Well between that and the fact that Rec Hall is SO HIGH and perfect for baton twirling, I thought of the idea to have twirlers from all over the U.S. come here to compete. Alongside that, the money that we raise will go into the David and Lori Uhazie Feature Twirler Scholarship fund that is an endowment. It currently pays for about a 4th of fall tuition and is only given in the fall. My goal is to raise enough money through this competition each year that eventually there is enough money to pay for the Feature Twirlers fall tuition through this one scholarship. The event should be pretty neat. We have great judges coming and we expect about 150-200 contestants. My goal is to bring an awareness of competitive baton twirling to students and the fans of Nittany Nation and to bring younger twirlers into a school like Penn State where we take such pride in twirling.
WFY: Penn State is known as Linebacker U, but given the national and world championships you and you predecessor Bobbie Jo Solomon won, maybe we should call it Twirler U as well. Does that sound good?
PJ: I’d be honored. 🙂 It’s pretty awesome that we were both able to set goals and achieve them during our Penn State career. Being proud of my school, my band, and my fellow majorettes definitely provided me with the motivation to go out, win, and be able to bring it back here!
WFY: Will you have any influence on the who is the next Blue Sapphire? Or, do you already know it is somebody named something like JoJo Solomaier?
PJ: Funny! I’m not sure yet -I know that I don’t have influence on who makes it, but whether I will be allowed to be at try-outs is still up in the air.
WFY: What is the most rewarding part of being the Blue Sapphire? What is the biggest challenge?
PJ: Just this morning I was working on preparing for an event I’m hosting tomorrow night for THON and I walked out of a meeting and ran into 6 people in a row who said “Hi PJ” and knew me by name. Honestly, at a school where you have 44,000 peers that is the most rewarding and humbling feeling. To think that that many people respect you enough as a person/baton twirler to want to know your name. I can do nothing but smile. I’m the happiest girl. Penn State has provided me with endless opportunities and my involvement with the Blue Band has made me see that if you can dream it, you can become it. There are too many rewarding parts of Penn State to name one. From the people, to the opportunities, to the enthusiasm of it’s community, Penn State is the best.
As far as challenges… I don’t sleep much, I drink wayyy to much Blueberry Coffee from Dunkin’ donuts (they are beginning to know me when I walk in the door as Blueberry coffee girl), I sometimes miss important family/friends/boyfriend’s stuff because of commitments here and sometimes my e-mail box gets a little clogged, but all in all – it’s not a challenge…it’s an opportunity of a lifetime and I’ve tried to live it up!
WFY: How many batons do you go through a season?
PJ: — ehhh 10?
WFY: How many about slippers do you go through a season?
PJ: — yuck they get gross. 3 pairs? My Mom is the best and she gets them cleaned for me.
WFY: What is your favorite College of Communications course?
PJ: Favorite Comm course was Ron Smith’s creative class… we did a lot of designing of ads and photoshop/illustrator work. I loved the challege of being unique and creative.
WFY: What is your favorite Creamery ice cream flavor?
PJ: I really like their strawberry or their Coconut Chip!
HWFY: ave you hiked up Mt. Nittany?
PJ: Yes sir… you start hiking and begin thinking…maybe this wasn’t such a great idea. THEN – you get to the top and your jaw just drops to the ground. The view is amazing. It’s a wonderful reminder of how special our Valley is AND how beautiful!
WFY: What is your favorite gem?
PJ: Is this even a legit question? Blue Sapphires clearlyyyy!
WFY: What are you planning to do after graduation?
PJ: This summer I’ll spend a lot of time teaching baton/job searching. In July I’ll attend the National Baton Twirling championship and give away my title as the 2009 Miss Majorette of America…then who knows. I’m up for an adventure! Pittsburgh? Philly? New York? Not sure… just know that I’m gonna make the most of wherever I go.
WFY: No mere mortal can twirl that many batons at once — you are actually a Jedi, right?
WFY: One last question — your two predecessors were both proposed to on the field, one on her Senior Day, the other at Homecoming one year. Good idea or bad idea?
PJ: Hahah well… I think it takes a pretty tough guy to get down on his knee in front of that many people!! It’s not about where..it’s who. 🙂