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Committed to twirling

Beverly Clevenger performed a solo for Homecoming 2010

Beverly Clevenger

Beverly Clevenger performs solo during the 2010 Homecoming pregame. Photo by Nicholas Benner

Beverly Swafford Clevenger is a woman of her word. But when she promised to twirl at the 2010 Homecoming if her granddaughter Julia Bosley enrolled at Mizzou, Clevenger didn’t realize all the elements that would stand in her way.

Not only was she a 67-year-old woman who hadn’t picked up her baton in four years, but she also had broken several bones in her left foot after falling down some stairs in November 2009. The injury required corrective surgery, three titanium screws, two pins and intense therapy.

“I had no idea how this would work out while looking at my cast that winter,” says Clevenger, who was an MU feature twirler in 1961. “But Julia had been accepted to Mizzou, and I had to do it.”

Beverly Clevenger

Clevenger stands with Marching Mizzou members in this 1961 photo. Photo courtesy of Beverly Clevenger

Clevenger, who attended MU from 1961–63 and finished her degree at UMKC in 1989, made the promise during Mizzou’s 2005 Homecoming, when she performed with the alumni band for the third time and took along Bosley, then an eighth-grader.

“As a middle-schooler, I thought it would be neat if we’d go to the same school,” says Bosley, now an MU sophomore sociology major from Excelsior Springs, Mo. “But I didn’t quite realize what a big deal it would be to have the same alma mater.”

Clevenger had performed a solo during her first Mizzou Homecoming in 1961 and thought it would be fitting to do the same at Bosley’s freshman Homecoming. So after regaining her gait, Clevenger practiced marching, ordered a sequined black-and-gold outfit and contacted a champion twirler who helped her develop a solo routine to Marching Mizzou’s music selection: Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

“I had a minute to win it,” says Clevenger, who now co-owns a construction business in El Paso, Texas. “Being a part of Mizzou is something that never leaves you.”

Bosley says the twirling solo created a special Homecoming memory for her and Clevenger, whom she describes as a surprisingly hip grandmother who plays Angry Birds and owns an iPad (but does not typically listen to Lady Gaga). On game day, Bosley proudly carried a sign featuring Clevenger’s photo and the slogan “Tiger Stripes Never Fade.”

Beverly Clevenger

Granddaughter Julia Bosley shows off the sign she made to support her grandmother. Photo courtesy of Beverly Clevenger

“She was the talk of the town, for sure,” Bosley says. “Even later in the year, as I was walking across campus or in class, I’d hear people talking about her.” 
Clevenger, who is already working on her routine for Homecoming 2011, says she didn’t anticipate the crowd’s overwhelming reaction to her performance. She was simply keeping a promise.

"When I left the field and was marching over to the tunnel, the photographers, referees, everyone on the sidelines were reaching out and grabbing my hand, saying ‘loved your deal,’ ‘thanks,’ ‘hope you come back.’ I felt like Lady Gaga!”

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