Twirling is in Jessica Godfrey’s blood. Her grandmother and mother did it, and she followed their footsteps starting when she was 10.

Godfrey, an elementary education senior from Titusville, joined the UCF Majorettes four years ago and now leads the eight-member team, which will be performing with the UCF Marching Knights during the first football game of the season Saturday.

At 21, she is balancing her classes, studies and an internship along with practicing with her team three times a week and coaching the Titusville Ballet and Jazz Center Twirlers.

Godfrey said she gets a thrill from performing with the majorettes during football games.

“It’s an adrenaline rush when you’re on the football field and hear the fans cheering,” she said. “Being a majorette has made me more sociable and active on campus. It has been a life-changing experience. I love having the opportunity to represent UCF.”

She’s a decorated majorette, too. During the summer, she represented UCF and Florida during the National Baton Twirling Association’s (NBTA) statewide competition placing as first runner up.

Godfrey also competed and placed in the top five in the United States Twirling Association’s (USTA) International Cup competition. Securing a spot gives her an opportunity to represent UCF during the international baton-twirling competition in Porec, Croatia next August.

“I like competing and met my closest friends during twirling competitions. I like improving and pushing myself to do better,” she said.

To get on the team, Godfrey had to try out and maintain a 2.5 GPA as the squad’s section coordinator.

Godfrey took up the sport from her mom. While mom was teaching children how to twirl before a dance class, Godfrey jumped in and tried to twirl, too.

“Twirling was very frustrating at first because I’m one of those people who wants to get it right on the first try,” said Godfrey. “That’s what helped me stay with twirling because it made me work harder, so I could twirl perfectly.”

Her grandmother was an elementary school principal who retired 20 years ago. Godfrey wants to carry that family tradition by teaching first graders and coaching twirlers after she graduates in May. She also plans on pursuing a master’s degree in the future.

“I want to be the teacher that the students look up to and remember for making a difference in their lives,” said Godfrey.

Godfrey has been honored to be a UCF majorette and will always cherish the memories, she said,  including her performance during the Fiesta Bowl in 2014 and the Main Street Parade at Walt Disney World after the football game. She’s looking forward to her last year with the team and said this football season will be a blast.

“This year the UCF Marching Knights’ and Majorettes’ performances during the football games will be upbeat and overflowing with high-energy fun,” she said.