GVSU majorette twists perception of ‘national champion’

Pete Barrows

Grand Valley State University varsity athletic programs have won a collective 15 national championship titles since the university’s inception.

Mariah Muscaro, GVSU’s baton yielding majorette and Laker marching band feature twirler, took home 10 titles in a single summer.

Traveling nearly every weekend since the 2013 winter semester concluded, Muscaro, who often practices upwards of six hours a day during the summer and has committed 10 to 12 routines to memory, has little familiarity with downtime—or, lately, losing.

Competing in events as far west as Las Vegas, as far east as Maryland and as far south as Florida, Muscaro has consistently placed tops in the nation among BIG 10, PAC 12, ACC and SEC college twirler peers, leaving her mark and expanding GVSU’s growing legacy everywhere she travels. It’s an opportunity to act as an ambassador that she does not take lightly for herself, her school or her sport, competing exclusively in her GVSU garb and putting a positive spin on relatively unknown GVSU and baton twirling worlds.

“I think it’s really fun to get to, as I call, it ‘spread the good news of Grand Valley,’ tell people what a little hidden gem we have and all of the really cool things about Grand Valley,” Muscaro said. “I get to show that by my twirling, so I twirl and wear my Grand Valley uniform and it makes it really fun. We’re going to put it (Grand Valley) on the map in the baton world.”

It hasn’t always been easy—Muscaro didn’t take home her first Miss Majorette of Michigan title until she was in the sixth grade and spends what little free time she has volunteering at nursing homes and shadowing doctors in hopes of one day becoming a physician, but her dedication to her craft has never floundered. A twirler from the age of five, Muscaro wasted little time in pursuing lofty aspirations.

“It’s something that I did in college and high school, introduced it to her and she picked it up at age five,” said Rhonda Muscaro, Moriah’s mother and coach until fifth grade. “Her first contest was in August the summer before she went to kindergarten, and she’s always worked very hard at it. Now through nothing more than hard work, she’s reached the top of the sport.”

Muscaro returns to Allendale from what she notes as her “most successful summer” to date with a treasure trove of accolades including NBTA World Open Strut two-baton and three-baton championships, Miss TU World Majorette, TU International Solo Champion, WTA National Miss College Majorette, Senior Women’s Grand National Solo, Collegiate Halftime Women’s Champion, Congressional Cup All-Around Champion and College Miss Majorette of Michigan and the Great Lakes honors, among other distinctions, designating her twirling prowess.
Muscaro isn’t quite finished yet, either.

A runner-up to win the college Miss Majorette of America two years straight, Muscaro is decidedly inclined to end her second place streak in the event. When Muscaro isn’t performing at GVSU football and basketball games, marching with the band, keeping her skills sharp at the Recreation Center, or applying to medical schools, she works to qualify next year to compete as a member of the American team in world competition.

“I would just like to go out on a high note,” Muscaro said. “I’m going to be applying to med school next summer, so I really only have one more summer and two years left of twirling. I just want to go out knowing that I gave it my all.”

GVSU and Muscaro, both accomplished in their own right and spinning in upward trajectories, have yet to experience championships on a world stage. If both have their way, that lack will be shortly remedied—no stage left too daunting to conquer.

“Moriah’s great and she just came out of nowhere, really, over the past three years because she has the desire,” said baton coach Joe Rowe, who has worked with Muscaro for several years now. “She really decided that she wanted to do it and has great fortitude and perseverance—she knows exactly what she wants. She did a routine five times at Notre Dame University and only one time did she have a drop. She just turned in flawless performances and that’s what makes her great.”