As a member of the elite "Georgettes" baton twirling squad at the University of Georgia, Jane Chalker performed before a huge crowd at the gala opening of the basketball coliseum 40 years ago.
She stood in that same coliseum recently, performing with other alumni and with current twirlers at halftime as part of a basketball commemoration.
Jane Chalker (back row, third from left) poses with other performers from the Athens event.
"It was great. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work," said the Thomson resident who was part of a dance routine at half time of the Georgia vs. Vanderbilt basketball game Jan 22.
A friend from UGA called Mrs. Chalker a couple of weeks ago, asking her to join other twirlers in presenting a halftime program.
"I said, 'Have you lost your mind?'" Mrs. Chalker said with a laugh. But she agreed to do it, and traveled to Athens that Saturday to meet with the group.
"We worked hard that day. We began learning the routine about 2, and worked on it until 4," she said.
The performers, which included current twirlers from the university as well as two groups of alumni, performed a three part program that was well received by the audience.
"It was exciting," Mrs. Chalker said.
Mrs. Chalker recalled the record crowd of 40 years ago, in Feb. 1964, when UGA took on Georgia Tech.
"By the way, Georgia (UGA) won that game," she said.
She had no butterflies then, but said she was a little nervous about the recent presentation. Even so, she pulled off a flawless performance, according to friends who just happened to be at the game.
Mrs. Chalker expected anonymity after the show.
"Nobody knew I was coming. I thought I was 'safe,'" she said with a laugh.
However, as she left the court a large contingent of Thomson residents as well as other friends who just happened to be at the game congratulated her.
Mrs. Chalker began twirling as a student at Thomson High School, when she went out for the team "on a dare." She joined the UGA squad, and twirled through college.
Afterward, she passed along the love of the sport to generations of local girls through summer camps and physical education classes. Currently, she teaches the art of baton twirling one day each week to students from kindergarten to 12th grade at Briarwood School, and she coaches the school's squad, the Bucanettes.