WHERE WE BEGAN
The Wheaton Majorettes corps was founded in 1959 by Evelyn D'Anna ("Mrs. D"), who served as the team's first director. The team’s first practices were held in the basement of the D’Anna family home on Aspen Hill Road in Wheaton, Maryland. Her daughter, Kathy (D'Anna) Dougherty, was the first Wheaton instructor and leader. During the corps’ first few years, the Wheaton Fire and Rescue Squad became the team’s biggest supporters and invited the corps to perform in parade events throughout the county. Consequently, the team was named in honor of the local fire department. For the first eight years, the corps, which consisted of twirlers, color guard, and drummers, marched in parades year-round in Maryland, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, and Virginia. In 1967, Wheaton competed in its first national competition (NBTA’S America’s Youth on Parade). By 1968, the team had won its first two national titles.
During the team’s earliest years, the members of the D’Anna family all played a role in making the corps a success: Mr. and Mrs. D supported the team in a management capacity, Kathy spent the majority of her time training the twirlers, Mike traveled with the drummers, Paul was a member of the Wheaton Drum Line champions, Vicky twirled for the team and started her coaching career when she became the team’s senior leader, and Ann was a key member of the majorette twirling line. Over the years, a number of the D’Anna family grandchildren have also carried on the tradition of participating in the sport of competitive baton twirling by competing as members of the team and later joining the coaching staff.
During the 1970s, the team underwent several important changes. First, in 1972, Wheaton began competing in the dance twirl team category, a new event at the time. Second, Ann became head coach and co-director of Wheaton alongside Mrs. D in 1977. That same year marked Wheaton’s first time winning a dance twirl team national title. Most importantly, between 1978 and 1981, the D’Anna family decided to retire the drum line, leaving the corps to consist of twirlers only from this point forward.
In the 1980s, Wheaton won its first show production title and would continue to compete in this category until the early 1990s. In 1985, the team began performing in basketball game halftime shows at the University of Maryland, a tradition which continues to this day. In 1987, NBTA honored the D’Anna family by creating a dynasty award traveling trophy bearing the family’s name. This trophy is still in circulation today and is presented each year to the winner of the Advanced Juvenile Large Twirling Team division.
Throughout the 1990s, the team and its members have gradually gained recognition in the US and around the world by winning numerous national and world championship twirling team, dance twirl team, and individual titles. In fact, Wheaton teams and individual members have successfully represented the nation in every World Championship competition held since 1993. In the late 1990s, the D’Anna family decided to change the team’s name to the Wheaton Dance/Twirl Teams in order to reflect the team’s growing commitment to competitive baton twirling. In 2009, Wheaton celebrated its 50th anniversary by attending the 2009 NBTA World Championships held in Ghent, Belgium, where the junior team won two world championship titles.
The next decade, the 2000s, Wheaton's success continued to reach new heights as the bar was continuously set higher and together, the coaches and athletes leaped over it with locked legs and pointed toes. Kicking off 2000, Wheaton traveled to the World Championships in England...
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