Packed gyms are where performances turn into legend, and nicknames are earned. Makaela Anderson has hers.
"Yeah, that's kind of my name now," Makaela said. "It's 'the baton twirler'."
Anderson-a 15-year old freshman at Fossil Ridge High School--had her new name solidified with an incredible halftime performance at a Sabercats basketball game last month.
"At school, my friends will tell people, 'that's the baton twirler,'" Makaela said. "It's kind of funny, because I look completely different with my hair down. Most people don't recognize me at first. But when they do, they're like, 'oh, you're the baton twirler.'"
In a sport that's not too popular in Colorado, Makaela has been perfecting her craft for seven and a half years. And, at a school with a lot of great athletes, her skills have impressed everyone.
"Some of the basketball and football players will say it jokingly," Makaela said. "They'll be like, 'I can do that.' And then I'll say, 'Want to try?' And then they say no."
While baton twirling is an individual sport, for Makaela, it's also a family event. Her 10-year-old brother, Byron, picked up the baton four years ago and has already turned into a star himself.
"He just immediately did the tricks that I was trying to do," Makaela said. "And I was like, 'How did you do that? That's not fair. I'm trying to do that.' It kind of annoyed me at first, but now we twirl together and it's so much fun."
The siblings practice the sport every day under the direction of a familiar face. Their mom, Heather, serves as their coach during the week.
"Some days are hard," Heather said with a laugh. "Some days they don't like mom being there all the time, but it's a really rewarding experience being able to help them."
Their talents have taken the family across the country. They just got back from Twirl Mania, a competition at Disney's Wide World of Sports, where Makaela placed in the top 10 in all but one event.
Earlier this year, Byron finished in the top three at Nationals in South Bend, Indiana. That means that next month, the Andersons will be traveling all the way to Norway to watch their 10-year-old superstar twirl in the World Competition.
The success of both Makaela and Byron has created a funny sibling rivalry.
"She's always jealous of me, because I have less competitors," Byron said with a smile.
"His division is much smaller than mine, so he wins almost everything," Makaela said. "So, I kind of give him a hard time about that. But otherwise, we get along very well."
Together, the Andersons have made a name for themselves in the Fort Collins community, even if that name is 'the baton twirlers'.