You’ve probably seen her alongside the Pride of Oklahoma. You might even know her as the woman who throws fire.
But there’s more to the person behind — or better yet, below — those flaming batons than Sooner sports fans might realize.
Her name is Sarah Harris, and she’s the University of Oklahoma’s one and only twirler. Harris, a broadcast journalism senior in her third year, transferred to OU in Fall 2013 from the University of Alabama to fill the university’s sole twirling position.
While at Alabama, the Knoxville, Tennessee, native had the privilege of performing at a Southeastern Conference Championship. There, she was a member of the Crimsonettes, a twirling line made up of 26 women.
At OU, she’s a one-woman show.
A journey to OU
As a high school senior, Harris knew she wanted to twirl at OU; however, the position was filled by Megan McGeary, who had decided to return for a fifth year at OU. Harris would have to wait for another chance to become OU’s twirler.
So, for her freshman year, Harris opted to make “Roll Tide!” her battle cry instead of “Boomer Sooner!” and pursued her twirling passion at the University of Alabama. Meanwhile, she knew she’d strive for the feature position at OU when it became available.
In joining OU and becoming its twirler her sophomore year in 2013, she turned down scholarship offers from Penn State, Florida State, Baylor University, Texas Christian University, University of Texas and more.
As she puts it: “We don’t do orange, only crimson.” (Don’t you love her already?)
Along with being the feature twirler, Harris is active in her church, Fellowship of Christian Athletes on the OU campus; leadership for the Pride of Oklahoma; and just ignited a pageant career (she’s actually the newly crowned Miss OU and on her way to competing in the 2016 Miss Oklahoma Pageant).
In fact, through the Miss OU pageant, Harris created her own pageant platform around personal empowerment and titled her cause “Be Empowered.”
“Being empowered is taking over your life and overcoming adversity,” Harris said.
Harris, in addition to her twirling obligations, visits Norman-area schools weekly to perform and talk about empowerment and anti-bullying with students.
Former OU twirler Kelli Masters, a 1995 OU graduate, has taken the role of Harris’ mentor. Masters, crowned Miss Oklahoma in 1997, encouraged Harris to participate in pageants.
“She is a great role model,” Masters said of her mentee.
Masters described Harris as a passionate, well-spoken performer who loves OU and the great game of football.
“I am honored as a former OU twirler to have Sarah represent OU,” she said.
Harris is a single performer executing new routines each time she performs. Who creates these routines, you ask? She does. Harris also plans her own choreography and music and creates her own costumes. It’s all her (with a little help from her family).
“Actually, funny story: My dad has designed all but one of my outfits,” Harris said.
What comes next
Although a single performer, Harris pairs her talent with the sound of the Pride of Oklahoma. Director of the Pride, Brian Britt, spoke of Harris being a great contribution to the team.
“Sarah is somebody who takes her job seriously without taking herself seriously,” Britt said. “The Pride serves as an ambassador for OU, and Sarah has invested herself in not only the Pride, but the university also.”
With football season winding down, we have to wonder: Is she done? Not even Harris knows that answer yet. She’s still debating whether to come back for another year.
Harris mentioned getting this good advice from former drum major Dondi Cupp: “You will know if you’re done.” She says twirling is strenuous on one’s body and her body would have to allow her to return to OU if she decides to. Harris says she’s going to live in the moment and when the time comes to make the decision, she’ll know.
Harris says she has no regrets when she looks back at her time at OU. She describes her time here as “something of a dream.”
“I never want to be remembered as the best twirler, but the best role model and representative for a university that has given me so much."