10 Questions with Feature Twirler Matt Freeman
You know him as the veteran Feature Twirler for the Penn State Majorettes. Since arriving on campus four years ago, Matt Freeman has performed in front of hundreds of thousands of Penn Staters every Saturday in Beaver Stadium. Just recently, Freeman became engaged to his college sweetheart, fellow majorette Meredith Semion.
I sat down with the senior marketing major and California native for a 10 questions interview about life, twirling, and dinosaurs.
Onward State: The question everyone reading this is going to want to know: How did you propose?
Matt Freeman: Since it was our two year anniversary [September 7], I told Meredith I’d be taking her out to dinner that night. I sent her on a scavenger hunt through seven places that meant something to us in our relationship. We started at 7 p.m. with Clue 1 “the place where it all began, Snyder and Stone.” As freshmen, we would meet before practice between those two buildings, which were our dorms freshman year. After that, I gave her Clue 2 which led us to the Blue Band Building. Clue 3 was the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center. We are both Catholic so we always went to church together and still do. Clue 4 led us to the Lion Shrine where we took our first picture as a couple. Clue 5 was the Penn State University sign on College Ave and High Street, the place I officially asked her to be my girlfriend. Clue 6 was Beaver Stadium.
Little did Meredith know that not only was this the place I would propose to her, but that I had hired Andy Colwell to hide so he could candidly photograph the proposal. After walking to the Pennsylvania State University sign on Park Ave, I finally proposed to her! Finally I gave her Clue 7 which was a surprise party at dinner with both of our families.
OS: Did she have any idea or was it a complete surprise?
MF: Every year, Meredith and I have unique ways of celebrating which is why this date worked perfectly. Whether I was proposing or not, she didn’t suspect anything since this is something I would have typically done for an anniversary. I also made sure to propose at the 6th clue rather than the 7th because she was under the impression I was pulling out a 7th clue, not a ring. She had no idea there was even a photographer! Her face says it all.
OS: This is one of the greatest stories I’ve ever heard. How did you meet each other?
MF: Meredith and I met through the Blue Band. Freshman year we spent almost every day together and really got to know each other. I always say that by the time we started dating I knew she was the one. Everyone always says that when you know you know, and I never believed it until I knew. It’s such an indescribable feeling that no one else can understand unless you have felt it before.
OS: That’s amazing. A little more about you, how did you start your twirling career?
MF: In the beginning, baton twirling for me wasn’t more than just copying my sister in the backyard with a plastic baton. The two hour drive to her lessons allowed me to have my mom’s undivided attention so that I could beg her to let me just take a private lesson. At 9 years old, I finally started with a coach in California named Debbie Salem. This was just the beginning and it has ultimately led me to attend the most outstanding university in the world, to six World Championships, and meeting the love of my life. There is nothing more I could ask for!
OS: You’re graduating this year. What’s next for you?
MF: Graduating this spring will be bittersweet. I feel as if I have done as much as possible while attending Penn State and made the most of my time here. I made sure to be future conscious and realized that Penn State was just the first step toward the rest of my life. I am honored to be a part of all the organizations that have helped me become who I am today. As a marketing major, I set a goal from the very beginning to have a job by the time I graduated, and after completing a summer internship, I received a full time job offer starting the summer after graduation.
I will always stay involved with twirling. Meredith and I plan to open our own studio and of course, teaching, judging, and traveling for twirling will always be a part of my future. One of the best feelings is being able to enjoy my senior year and not worry about what I will do after I graduate. This mindset has helped me cope with the fact that I will be leaving a place I called home for the best four years of my life.
OS: What is your favorite memory of Blue Band or Penn State (besides the proposal of course)?
MF: Proposing to her will always be my favorite memory here, but I have to say that everything that goes along with just being a student at Penn State and being in the Blue Band is what will always stay with me. As a member of the band you become part of a family full of tradition, pride, and success that is irreplaceable. Living the life of a Penn State student is something no one ever wants to give up. But enjoying every second of it has helped me face the fact that all good things come to an end, but they may lead to even better things.
OS: If you could say one thing to a first semester freshman, what would it be?
MF: Don’t get caught up in your time here and forget to pause and think about what you are experiencing and what you are here for. No matter what you become a part of this place and you know that it is the right choice for you. Never forget that it is just as important to give back to an institution that has given you so much! The people you will meet because of Penn State and the organizations you will become a part of make you realize you will never have this opportunity again. Enjoy every moment you have here.
OS: Twirling is a female-dominated sport. Have you ever faced any challenges related to that stereotype?
MF: The most negative experience I have had was in high school. Not caused by any students, but by the band director and principal of my high school. As a male in a female dominated sport, I have always had to face challenges and overcome the fears of acceptance by my peers and others throughout my life. In high school, I wasn’t allowed to perform for my high school marching band and was told by my principal that I was a distraction and he asked why I wasted time trying to twirl for our school. I told him that I needed the experience to twirl in college and he sarcastically asked me, “What college do you think is going to want a male baton twirler?” I explained the possibility of Penn State University, and with that, I set him off. He laughed in my face and told me to be realistic. From that moment on I was never allowed to twirl for my high school football games again.
OS: You might be one of the most well-known students on campus after all the exposure at games. That must lead to some fun interactions, right?
MF: I am a normal student just like everyone else on campus. I love those random conversations people have with me, it’s a great way to meet people.
OS: If you were a dinosaur, which would you be?
MF: T-Rex. No question!